Classroom Learning Environment Plan (CLEP) – Fall 2013 – This is a link to an assignment that I created for my Classroom Management course. This assignment outlines some of my beliefs about management and my ideas for my future classroom. Some of my ideas have changed over time and they will continue to change as I gain more experience in the classroom but I am always eager to learn the best strategies to help my students be successful.
I believe that good classroom management is essential to having a productive and successful classroom. There are many elements of classroom management that most would not even notice in an effective classroom but these elements make a huge difference. Classroom management includes not only managing the behaviors of the students but implementing routines and strategies to maintain order in the classroom.
During the Spring 2014 semester, I made a goal for myself based on the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices (FEAPs). The goal under FEAP #2: “The Learning Environment: To maintain a student-centered learning environment that is safe, organized, equitable, flexible, inclusive, and collaborative, the effective educator consistently … manages individual and class behaviors through a well-planned management system.” (FEAP 2B). My collaborating teachers and my school have implemented many great ideas for managing behavior. One system that I really like is a color system. The students start the day on “green” and, depending on the classroom, they can move up to colors like blue, purple, and pink or they can move their colors down to yellow, orange, and red. I like this system because it gives students a visual, and since the entire school uses this system, the parents are familiar with the system and can track their student’s progress. One disadvantage to the system is that certain colors gain connotations: green is good and red it bad. This is similar to the idea of red pen marking up papers, which may make students nervous. I personally think that any color would receive this negative connotation and I am unsure if there is a specific way to remedy that situation. I do think; however, that the students should be brought up instead of going down because I want to look at the positives in my students not the negatives.
When I manage the behavior of my students, I do my best to stay calm and assess the situation before acting. I try to give my students a chance to explain themselves before I place judgment on the student. Sometimes when I ask them “what should you be doing” they actually do not understand what is expected of them. In these situations, I do not yell at the students or punish them, I try to prompt the students to think of what they should be doing or I remind the students. Sometimes there have been issues in my classroom between students but I try to see both sides of the situation and make sure the student understand why an action was a misbehavior. Instead of immediately telling the students that they are in trouble, I talk with them on their level so I can help them understand what to do next time. I think that students should not be punished for most misbehaviors, instead I want to focus on helping the student understand what went wrong and how to avoid it. I do; however, believe that some situations do require immediate disciplinary action, for example if one student hurts another student.
I also believe that routines and strategies are extremely important in maintaining a safe and organized environment. One example of a strategy in the classroom is an attention getter. Attention getters are extremely important because they allow the teacher to easily gain the attention of the students through either verbal or nonverbal means. I have seen many attention getters such as “Give Me Five/Ten,” in which the students raise five or ten fingers and look towards the teacher after they here this phrase; clapping in an specific order; or “Drop it Like It’s Hot,” in which the students drop everything and look to the teacher after hearing this phrase. I am not sure which attention getters I would like to implement in my classroom but I think that the attention getters that I have seen during my internship (listed above) are great and they work well. I have personally used all of these strategies and they actually work.
Another strategy for the students that is implemented in my kindergarten classroom is “What would help you feel better?” In my classroom, there are many occasions when students accidentally hurt or upset each other so to deter tattling, my collaborating teachers have taught the students how to communicate their feelings and needs to one another. If Student B accidentally bumped into Student A, they would talk to each other about the issue. Student A would say they “do not like it when” the other student did that action and Student B would then ask “what would make you feel better?” Student A then gets to choose what they would like Student B to do to make them feel better, like giving them a hug, a hi-five, saying sorry or making a silly face. I really like this system because saying “sorry” does not always make the situation better. The students can use this script to help them learn to communicate their feelings and have their needs met. Although this strategy might seem a bit silly, I have seen it work on many occasions. Sometimes a student might be crying, but after both students go through the “what would help you feel better” process, they both feel better and can get past the situation. This strategy allows students to have their feelings acknowledge without interrupting the teacher or tattling. There are limits to this strategy because I think older students might not respond as well to it but I think that a similar script or concept could be implemented in higher grade levels.
Routines in the classroom can include getting ready for the beginning or ending of the day, how to line up, turn in papers, or ask for help. These routines are extremely important because they give the students independence and allow the students to work quickly at the task without constantly stopping to ask for help. For example, in my kindergarten classroom, the students know to turn in their homework in their “team trays” when they are finished and then grab the book box for their table group and read a book. Lining up routines are also important so students do not fight or race each other when they are in line. In my classroom last semester, the students lined up based on the first letter of their first name. In my current classroom, the students line up based on a number system that the students have memorized (although we do keep a list on hand to help guide students into their correct line order).
Managing the classroom is no small task even though it can be done quickly and quietly. In an effective classroom, the students understand what is expected of them and they can perform most tasks without constantly asking the teacher for help. It is extremely important to set up the routines of the classroom in the beginning of the year because as time progresses, the students will know what to do and how to do it. It can be difficult to manage the classroom at times but it is important that the teacher makes sure the environment is safe and organized so the students can focus on learning.