How important is the Classroom Environment?

The best way to develop classroom management is to develop an effective learning environment for the pupils. Many teachers wish that pupils would behave better, show respect, use the resources available in the class e.g dictionaries but none of the above can happen without an organised and stimulating environment within which to work.

The first step to success is to consider classroom organisation. This will often depend on the type of room, shape, size and age. Ultimately, it is essential to clearly identify and label classroom resources. The worktops should be clear and tidy. Unfortunately, many classrooms tend to be cluttered and therefore create a number of difficulties. My first Headtecher was a stickler for neatness. He felt that the teacher should set the standard for the pupils. If we respected and made the best use of our resources then the pupils would follow our lead. Unsurprisingly he was absolutely correct.

Secondly, he would expect furniture to be positioned in order to allow easy access, room to sit with a clear view of the blackboard (sorry showing my age) and clearly identified areas for maths and language resources.

Thirdly the displays had to stimulate and develop learning. This is very much dependent on you School display policy but during the first ten years of my career it meant a maths display, language display, an exciting and organised book corner, role play area and a theme display. The theme display had to be positioned on the first wall that you saw as you entered the classroom. It was a cross curricular display containing skills from many different subject areas.

I have actually used the above standards as I have developed into a school leader.

Cartoon-kids-Illustration-3

The cartoon has a definite feel of a classroom in America and in the world today many countries have different perceptions of the ideal classroom. I would argue that the greatest influence isn’t about funding but the effective use of the resources available, not how many or how few but how we use what we have to the best of our ability.

‘An appropriate environment is key to both safety and effective learning And development’ – DFE 2006

There is no doubt that the DFE are perfectly correct. In my role as a Systems leader and Peer Inspector I have witnessed how cluttered classrooms by there very nature do not allow freedom of movement and thus prevents pupils ability to gather resources and show respect to them. I quite like the manner in which ‘Scholastics’ have organised this;

http://teacher.scholastic.com/professional/selfassessment/checklist/classroom.htm

Classroom Environment
A well-organized classroom sets the stage for teaching and learning. Evaluate the effectiveness of your space.

  • The layout of your classroom reflects your teaching style. (For example, if your instruction includes lots of group collaboration, did you arrange your students around tables or clusters of desks?)
  • The physical environment reflects you and your personality. Don’t hesitate to give the room your personal touch with plants, art, rugs, posters, etc.
  • Frequently used items are easy to get to. Easily accessible materials and supplies can eliminate delays, disruptions, and confusion.

In Wales, with such a great emphasis on Literacy and Numeracy we have the opportunity to make the best of every space available to develop understanding and promote the use of certain skills. The image below looks at auditing Literacy in the classroom.

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The link below should take you to a checklist that I feel is very appropriate and easily adapted.

http://www.leics.gov.uk/learning_environment_checklist_-_2007_version.pdf

As a teacher you are under the guidance of School policies but that shouldn’t prevent you from being creative and stamping your own identity on the room.

I have always believed that displays have a duel purpose, to celebrate completed pieces of work and to show how they reached that stage. To inform, to inspire and to stimulate discussion.

Perhaps the obvious question to ask is the most powerful and the best audit tool,

If you were a pupil would you be happy, stimulated by the environment and understand how to collect resources?

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