5. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.
Teachers must provide a safe learning environment that takes into account the physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being of all students. Managing a classroom and maintaining respect and caring for all will promote higher student achievement. Without a safe learning environment, students are less likely to participate and more likely to become disengaged from learning and behave inappropriately.
Demonstrating concern and caring for each student can help build a sense of community in the classroom. According to Marzano (2007), several behaviors with students can increase academic achievement including making eye contact and friendly gestures, smiling, encouraging, and generally increasing the amount of time devoted to each interaction. Figure 1 below illustrates the various effect sizes for each teacher behavior. Having the appropriate mixture of concern, cooperation, guidance, and control in the classroom can help maintain an effective relationship with students.
During my internship so far, I have observed my mentor showing caring and compassion for students, as well as defusing potential problems and providing guidance. She accomplishes this through a variety of actions. One way is through setting expectations with students on appropriate behavior. For example, she has several posters on the wall that list how students want to feel at school (figure 2) and the acronym RULER, which stands for the social emotional learning curriculum that public schools use in my district (figure 3). She indicated that she discussed these expectations at the beginning of the year. She is also reviewing the classroom charter and the mood meter chart (figure 4) this week to reinforce the idea that students should feel safe and happy at school.
Another way she promotes a safe and caring learning environment is by monitoring student behavior at all times. There is one student in the classroom that has anger management issues and I have observed her quickly helping the student calm down by either redirecting or having the student wait in the hall until calm enough to reenter the classroom. My mentor also makes eye contact and maintains composure in tense situations in order to calm down the student.
Through my observations so far, I have learned that promoting a friendly and respectful classroom is important for the teacher-student relationship. In my own interactions with students, I have smiled and made eye contact with them and shown appreciation if they complimented me on something. I have also shown an interest in what students have to say and even used humor when appropriate. In addition to these interactions, I also attended an after-school open house event related to World Cultures where I interacted with several students on a more informal basis.
Providing a safe and welcoming classroom environment can increase student learning. As I continue my internship, I hope to notice more ways I can demonstrate caring for students and discuss these ideas with my mentor.
Marzano, R. J. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.