As a teacher, providing a safe, comfortable classroom environment and maximizing opportunities for student learning are the most important factors in governing student behavior. In this statement, I will describe my strategies for establishing and maintaining a well-managed environment to optimize learning opportunities. My strategies are highly influenced by Harry and Rosemary Wong.
To make the room stimulating and visually appeasing, I decorate it with science/math materials as well as examples of student work. The plants and animals in my science classroom are designed to bring in natural life and attract students’ interest. At the same time, to minimize student distraction, these stimuli are positioned on the periphery or in the back of the room. Likewise, formulas, equations, and theories are displayed in my math room.
In order to help all students feel welcome and comfortable, I get to know their names and interests right away and have informal conversations with them. All students’ interests, strengths, and cultural backgrounds are welcomed and valued. I treat all students equitably and interact and communicate with them to make them feel cared for, listened to, and respected. My efforts to respond to all student questions and to remain patient and calm contribute to my comforting, welcoming classroom environment.
At the beginning of the year, I communicate my rules and expectations clearly and directly. I require students and their parents to sign a contract stating that they have read and understand my behavioral and academic expectations and consequences. In addition, my science students sign a safety contract. These contracts help to create a safe, positive, work-oriented environment where students are comfortable and time is not wasted on unnecessary or preventable events; as a result, there is more time available for quality instruction.
To minimize confusion, I find it helpful to tell students what is expected of them and how to succeed in the class.