Standard C: Manages Classroom Climate and Operation
Creates and maintains a safe and collaborative learning environment that values diversity and motivates students to meet high standards of conduct, effort and performance.
I am committed to making my classroom a fun and safe environment meant to foster all types of learners. I believe that knowing each of my students and having a loving, friendly, yet professional manner with them is imperative. I want all my students to feel comfortable with their peers and myself so we can have an open relationship where learning is accountable by all. I believe learning should be fun, hands on, and interactive. I believe students learn from one another simply with the aid and structure of the teacher. I feel like I am very calm with my students, and I don’t ever like to raise my voice. I don’t believe in yelling in a classroom, and I feel if you have a system set up correctly, you should never have to yell in a classroom setting. Learning should be something the students want to do. The teacher simply needs to discover a way to engage the students and intrinsically motivate them to discover, which I believe in return will encourages and increase students’ learning. I believe every student can and should succeed in a classroom through clear classroom expectations, positive reinforcement, peer support, and cooperation.
“Hand in hand, together we can.” This motto really stressed the ideology that I believe that teaching is not just the job of the teacher, but also the job of every student in the classroom. All students are expected to behave appropriately. On the very first day of school we create a classroom rule list together, with a few “must haves” from the teacher. (**please see Classroom Rules for a list of the rules) Every individual in the class then signs the classroom rules and understands it is a contract. This “contract” is the guidelines for all expectations in the classroom. It is understood that if you break this contract, there will be consequences.
With this being said, I do not believe that taking something away is the best option. I am a strong believer in positive reinforcement. Good behavior will always earn something, and most importantly whole classroom cooperation and good behavior earns a whole class prize. I believe elementary students need to move and interact with their peers, so my whole classroom reinforces will always include extra recess time, game time, or even dance time. Good behavior will always be rewarded and praised in my classroom.
These rules will always be the basis of my classroom system, but as the school year goes on I will add additional rules if necessary. The students also can add their own rule they believe is important for our classroom. This personal touch forces the students to comply with the policies because they feel they are even more responsible to obey them.
I don’t believe I can say I know the best way to “punish” a student, but I have seen many effective ways that encourage good behavior, instead of discouraging poor behavior. Positive reinforcement is my ideal way of encouraging students. I believe praising students not only boosts the behavior of that individual, but it also tends to increase the good behaviors of the other students. I will always pulling kids aside to talk to them and ask them what is going on before considering punishing the students. Often, there is much more to a story than what meets the eye, and taking this extra time to fully understand a situation will allow the students to understand what they did wrong and why they shouldn’t behave a certain way or say a specific word or phrase. While in a perfect world I would say I never want to provide a consequence or punish a student, but I am aware this is not possibly. I don’t believe in yelling at a student or taking away their recess, but I have come to terms with the fact that certain extreme situations call for these responses.
I will have a behavior chart in my classroom. The behavior chart will have five different colors, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. Every day a student comes to class with a clean slate on the color green, which means “good”. If students behave excellent, they will be moved up to blue. I will give students a verbal warning if they are being disruptive or distracting in the classroom. If the behavior continues, I will have the students move their color to yellow, which means warning, orange, which requires a loss of free time, and then worst case scenario, red. Red means a note or phone call to home, but red would have to be a severe case; continuous rule breaking, or physically injuring a peer. If a student is moved down to yellow, and he or she behaves for the rest of the day they will be moved back up to green. At the end of the day every student colors in their behavior sheet and the students then bring home to have signed by their parents.
This behavior method is really only used for a general classroom without severe behavioral issues. For those individuals I would use token boards where they can earn something when they behave correctly. I have seen amazing results from this method with students with autism. The main idea is positive reinforcement, but the best form of reinforcement for each individual may differ.
I believe the way a classroom is set up, can tell you a lot about a teacher. Personally, I want to be viewed as an open, easy to talk to, and fun teacher. When you walk into my classroom, there are a lot of things you would see. My students’ desks would be set up in sets of four desks facing each other in a rectangle in the center of the classroom. Sets of four make it easy to partner up and gain support from their neighbors if they have questions without making the sets too large and potentially a distraction for the students. Smaller sets also make it easy for the teacher to check in with all students without disturbing their peers. All desks will be set up to easily see the board so the teacher can instruct with the students at their desks. My rug would be set up by the whiteboard and easel for optimal large group lessons. Visuals such as pictures, anchor charts, and key vocabulary, words, or phrases will be posted all around the classroom. Additionally, you would see “bonus questions” throughout the room for students to complete when they are done with their work. Preferably, in the middle of the classroom, against the wall you will see a horseshoe table for me to work with small groups, but also have a good visual of the other students working independently. The student’s library will ideally be an enclosed area for the students to pick out books and read silently, while in another area you would find a large selection of manipulatives such as counting blocks, connecting cubes, coins, die, cards, and many more. It is hard for me to say exactly how my room will be set up without having my own classroom, but I know I want it to be colorful, full of examples of student’s work, open, cheerful, and everything will be easily accessible.
I have an open door policy when it comes to communication with parents and guardians. I believe that understanding what is going on at home will only benefit the teaching styles for the students in the classrooms. The parents and teachers need to stay well communicated for the student to succeed. Whole class emails and/or newsletters will be sent home monthly to update the parents and/or guardians about what we are learning in the classroom. When necessary, additional notes home, emails, and/or phone calls will also be sent home to make sure both sides are kept in the loop of the students behavior and/or academic standings.
Each night the students will color in their behavior sheet that the students need to sign, so I know they are checking in with their students. This will also tell me if the parents are enforcing the students to read at home and encourage learning at the house.
I believe in the use of many different forms of instruction. I will never lecture for an entire subject period. I believe this is just wrong and I don’t believe the students really learn from this. I believe working with pairs, partner sharing, and group sharing helps students actually understand the meaning of what they are learning and not just spitting back the information you want to hear. I will provide whole group and small group instruction, as I feel both are necessary for the initial learning of a new subject, task, or skill. I believe centers and workshops are a fantastic way to apply the knowledge learned in a way that is fun and beneficial for the students. I will use games and music to instruct some of my lessons, and most importantly I will use personal information and connections with the students while teaching, as often as I can.
All in all, my classroom management plan goes back to the idea that playing is learning. I believe students need to play and interact with each other to learn. They need an initial introduction and/or understanding of a topic, but I believe inquiry is the best way for students to truly understand a topic, skill, or task. If I can provide a safe and encouraging environment through clearly stated rules and guidelines, while also giving the students some independence and peer support, I believe they can and will work to their best ability.