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English 401-Advanced Composition

Positive Learning Climate
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Conducive Learning Environment

 

            In order to create and maintain a conducive learning environment, teachers need to know the content of the Kentucky Teachers Standard II, and apply it in their classroom on a daily basis.  Standard II states that teachers must, “create a learning climate that supports the development of student abilities to use communication skills, apply core concepts, become self-sufficient individuals, become responsible team members, think and solve problems, and integrate knowledge.” 

            While doing my classroom observations, I was able to identify several academic expectations.  These expectations are not specified for only certain individuals, but for everyone in the class.  Students are expected to bring their books to class every day, whether they will be working out of them or not.  Mrs. Hargett-Slack requires the students to use their book as a resource or reference if they need to find the answer to a question.  By requiring this of her students, she is trying to teach them responsibility.

            Another academic expectation is that students are required to bring to class, and keep organized, their binders.  Binders consist of a 1 ” white binder with the students name and class period on the front and spine.  The sections inside the binder are separated by dividers and are labeled as follows: pondering pad, vocabulary builder, class information section, DOL/Grammar section, study skills section, essential writing skills section, informational reading section, literature section, and independent reading section.  Students are given a checklist at the beginning of the semester and binders are checked periodically for a grade.  Each section is broken down with a point system that totals 140 points and counts as a test grade.  This binder also helps teach the students responsibility, along with organizational skills. 

            The final academic expectation is that students utilize the TPS, teacher and/or aide for help on items that they do not understand.  TPS is a students “Think, Pair, Share” partner that they are assigned to work with.  This may be as little as one other student, or as many as three other students.  The ideal ratio for this plan to work is three students per group.  The classroom teacher is also present, along with a teacher’s aide who is in the classroom as part of a school program, to assist students and provide guidance.  Through this expectation, students are being taught that collaborating and questioning will help enhance learning skills.

            In order to value and support student diversity and individual needs within the classroom, teachers must encourage positive interactions in several areas.  During my observation, I realize that positive interactions are not always easy, but they will definitely lead to better interactions with students and a greater desire for learning.  One way that this is displayed is through positive reinforcement.  When reviewing homework, tests, or discussing a unit students are always being called on to answer questions.  For correct answers or good questions asked, the teacher will toss a piece of candy to them.  Students can also receive candy for incorrect answers when they demonstrate that they are thinking and trying to arrive at the correct answer.

            Another positive interaction is the presence of a collaborative teacher who works with students who have been identified on their IEP as needing the extra help.  Some of these students require a reader, while others may need a scribe.  Students are all taught in the same environment, but during testing the collaborating teacher will take them to another location so that they are provided with the help that is needed.  The collaborative teacher also continuously works with these same students on the instructional material while they are in her classroom to provide them with the extra help they may need.

            A final positive interaction I have observed is the classroom design.  The teacher has rearranged the desks so that one-half of the room is facing the other half.  This design provides each student easier access for student involvement, accountability, and helps decrease the distance from the main instruction area to each student.  The arrangement of desks also provides each student a better view of the projector screen, which is used daily for agenda, homework assignments, vocabulary builder, bell ringers, review of quizzes and tests, and Thoughtful Education Strategies.  Classroom arrangement such as this helps to provide better interaction so that students are encouraged to participate and learn.

            A positive and safe learning environment is the key to help further enhance academic achievement.  One such observation was positively stated classroom and school expectations that are visibly posted on the classroom walls.  If students are aware of what behaviors are expected of them, they will be more prone to conform to those expectations.   Behavior is learned, just like academics; therefore, it is important to let students know what will and will not be tolerated, and what is expected of them.  All of this can be done in a positive manner and it will help you earn the respect of your students.

            Another key factor that I observed to help promote a positive and safe learning environment was positive feedback.  Everyone likes to be provided feedback and even constructive criticism, if given in the right form, could be construed as positive feedback.  Students are commended for giving correct answers and/or for helping fellow students with problems that they don’t understand.  The teacher also uses incorrect answers as a basis for further learning, restating the question they missed in a way that they can understand and learn from the experience.  I have also been able to help the students with reviews and providing explanations for why certain answers are correct.  Children respond better when they are not embarrassed for providing a wrong answer and are given the proper encouragement.

            The final key to providing a positive and safe learning environment is by keeping the door locked during instruction time and keeping classroom interruptions by outside sources to a minimum.  Children in the hallways going to the restroom, entire classes moving from their classroom to another instructional area, and other sources outside the class door will catch a student’s attention and draw them away from the instructions at hand.  It is also important that students and other teachers do not continuously interrupt the class to ask questions that can be answered before or after school, or during class changes.  

            The Kentucky Teacher Standard II requires that teachers establish and maintain an environment that promotes optimum learning experiences for all students.  There are a variety of ways that this can be accomplished.  There needs to be academic expectations for all students to adhere by.  This may include something as simple as teaching responsibility by requiring students to bring their books to class, be organized, and utilize opportunities afforded to them.  It is also important to promote positive interactions and stay away from negativity to enhance a student’s learning.  This can be achieved through collaboration, classroom design, and seating arrangements to promote accountability.  Finally, a positive and safe learning environment that is achieved through limited interruptions, positive feedback and classroom expectations is imperative to creating a classroom that is student-friendly, yet provides the teacher with access for student involvement. 

 

Veronica M. Johnson   

Introduction to Teacher’s Education-250

Thursday; 5:00-7:45 p.m.