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Classroom Environment Plan Allison Geerlings Grand Valley State University


In order to set students up for success I believe the classroom must be a caring and accepting community of learners. I believe students must feel safe and have a strong sense of belonging in order to reach their full learning potential in the classroom. If students feel safe from physical and emotional harm and view themselves as valued members of the class they will be more comfortable sharing their ideas and attempting new learning. Linda Albert states that students urgently want to feel that they belong in the class. It is when students don't feel a sense of belonging that they begin to act out because they mistakenly believe their inappropriate behavior will afford them the sense of belonging they are seeking (Charles, 2008). According to William Glasser survival and belonging are two of the five basic needs that must be met in order for students to reach their highest potentials. He states that classroom misbehavior is a result of the students five basic needs not being met (Charles, 2008). To create a safe classroom environment where all students have a sense of belonging I would create a social contract with the students within the first week of school. I would initiate conversations with the students about the type of classroom they want to have; what it would look like, how students would treat one another and the teacher, as well as how the teacher would treat the students. The social contract would be signed by all members of the class as an act of commitment to abiding by the agreed upon rules and consequences. The social contract would remain displayed in the class all year and be referred to when necessary in an attempt to extinguish or redirect misbehavior. The social contract acts as a tool to ensure clarity of the rules and to protect the dignity of the students (Curwin & Mendler, 1988).


Consequences for breaking the class social contract would reflect Coloroso's explanation of good disciple. Good discipline should teach students to take positive charge of their own lives and allow them to take ownership of the problem. It also should teach them ways to solve the problems that perseveres the dignity of all involved (Charles, 2008). Students would be responsible for resolving their own conflicts and I feel that it is my responsibility to model cooperative problem solving skills for the students so they can gradually reach a place where they are able to successfully resolve most conflicts without the assistance of adults. Choice is an important aspect of discipline and students would have the chance to choose how they will respond and resolve their misbehavior. I agree with Coloroso who stated a teacher's role is to help students who have encountered difficulties by asking them how they plan to solve the problem, thus giving the students a chance to own their responsibility in resolving the problem (Charles, 2008). Consequences would be related to the offense and serve to help the student reflect on their behavior, how they could act better in the future and not be used as a form of a punishment (Charles, 2008). To help create a culture for learning I believe students need to have many opportunities to work with and collaborate with others as well as explore areas of personal interest or relevance. To accomplish this I would provide many group and partner learning opportunities as well as include many inquiry-based lessons. Glasser describes quality curriculum as consisting of topics that students find enjoyable and useful. The basic need for fun is met in the classroom by allowing students to talk and work together on projects of interests and to share accomplishments (Charles,2008). I feel it is vital to hold high expectations for all students and to make these


expectations well know. The expectations placed on students will greatly influence their achievement in the class. The students that expect to be successful are always alert and conscious of opportunities to help them be successful. (Wong & Wong, 2009) A learning culture also includes a well-managed and organized classroom with all materials ready before instruction, creating little wasted time or student confusion. The students would also take responsibility for keeping the environment clean by tiding up their work spaces and returning materials to the correct locations. Routines and procedures would be consistent allowing for students to be work-oriented and relaxed at the same time. This means creating a predictable environment where not only the teacher, but all the students, know what to do and what is suppose to happen within the classroom. (Wong & Wong 2009). Students should know what behavior is expected of them at all times and in all situations. I feel that short simple lists of proper behavior for different types of activities should be created, taught, displayed and referenced when needed. There are different behavior expectations for different activities such as; group work, partner work, silent reading, lining up, carpet time, exc. and student should be aware of what is expected of them at all times. It is better to tell students how they should behave in contrast to telling them how not to behave (Curwin & Mendler, 1988). Also knowing what is expected may help eliminate student confusion or frustration (Wong, 2009). I would have chances for students to get individual recognition for making positive choices, like moving up a clip chart and earning a reward, as well as chances for the whole group to earn recognition for working together and making positive choices, such as earning points towards a fun class activity.


To help create an environment of respect for all I would include Flip Flippens Capturing Kids Hearts elements of EXCEL (engage, explore, communicate, empower and launch). To do this I would engage with my students every morning by meeting them in the hall and giving each student a personal greeting and the choice to give me a hug or a high five. To help students feel valued and personally connected to the class I would have a few students share an interesting story about themselves or a good thing that has happened in their life with everyone. I would also have an end of the day routine that included an inspirational quote or positive message to send the students home on a good note. In order to reach a child's mind you must be able to reach their heart (The Flippen Group, 2012). To go along with the community feel of the class I would group students together at tables of four or five. Students would store all their materials in designated container on and under their tables. Each student would be allowed to keep a water bottle at their table and I would have certain times of the day that students would be allowed to have a snack at their table. I feel having the choice to get a drink when thirsty and the freedom to eat in the classroom at prescribed times helps create that safe and welcoming environment where hopefully students feel they are cared for and seen as individuals. I would include a carpet area where all students would be able to sit comfortably and participate in lessons. The classroom would also have a couple larger tables so more students could work together at a table. The walls would be filled with age appropriate sight words, posters for all subjects and positive behavior reminders. I would always display work from every student in the room to help them feel a sense of belonging (Wong & Wong, 2009).


To keep parents involved and connected I would email or send home weekly a newsletter updating parents on what their children have been doing and what is coming up. I would love to be able to give the option to send out text alerts to give special reminders of big assignments, special dates, volunteer needs or class trips. If accessible to many families I would create a CourseSite for the class and include a place for students or parents to post questions. It would also be a great place to give homework help examples and links.



Charles, C.M. (2008). Discipline through belonging, cooperation, and self-control. Building classroom discipline (pp. 93-99). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Charles, C.M. (2008). Part 2. Barbara Coloroso INNER SELF-CONTROL. Building classroom discipline (pp. 99-104). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Charles, C.M. (2008). Three bridges to twenty-first-century discipline. Building classroom discipline (pp. 73-78). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Curwin, R.L, & Mendler, A.N. (1998). Discipline with dignity. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum.

The Flippen Group. (2012). Capturing kids hearts. Retrieved from:

Wong, H.K. & Wong, R.T. (2009). The first days of school (4th ed.) Mountain View CA: Harry K. Wong Publications, Inc.