The basis of a positive and effective learning environment are centered around the ideas of consistency, mutual respect, participation and trust. Without these values no classroom, work, or home environment can function at their true potential. As in any structured atmosphere, a classroom must have participation from its students in the procedures and routines set in place by their educator. It is equally as important for the educator to convey his or her expectations, rules, and consequences in-depth with their students in a way that provides their students with a feeling of trust and respect.
From the moment a child arrives at school and meets their peers on the playground opportunities for learning have begun. Having set routines and behavioral expectations provide students with guidelines that increase their skills in everything from social skills to organizational skills that better prepare them for the years ahead. When developing procedures for your own classroom an educator must consider each moment of the day, each menial day to day task as well as lesson plans and curriculum.
Each time the students perform an in-class or out of class activity there is an opportunity to not only provide a standard procedure that assists in time management, but also to incorporate a number of other skills that the children can master. Two such in-class activities are reading groups and computer use. When students gather for a group reading activity there are many procedures the students must follow. Students must stand up from their seats, where they are seated in groups of four, and individually each group will be called to the designated reading area. Students are allowed to sit where they please as long as they follow the rules.
To begin, a brief discussion of the title of the book will take place with the students and a question/answer session on what they think the book will be about. Students are free to chat with their friends and share ideas openly for a few minutes. This is to build interest in the students about the book and encourage them to be attentive listeners. This can also create a bit of competition among the students, each student wanting to be right about the book, which in turn increases attentiveness. Next, the story begins and the students quiet down. During story time, two behavioral xpectations that the students are expected to follow are attentive listening, no talking or playing with their classmates, no disruptions and students must remain respectful at all times. The second being that students must raise their hands and wait patiently to be called on before making any comments or asking any questions. An in-class activity that can be more complex is computer use. The average classroom has 20 – 25 students, while usually only 5 – 10 computers. In this scenario one member from each seated group will be able to use a computer for 10 – 30 minutes, depending on the specific assignment or reason for computer use.
In every seated group each student will be assigned a number from one to four, a number will be called and each member of a group with that number will go quietly to the computer area and log-on. Computers are essential to today’s classroom and it is imperative that students follow the rules involving computer use. Two behavioral expectations that coincide with this activity are treatment/respect for equipment and visiting only sites that are approved by the educator. Students are required to keep computer stations neat and tidy at all times, they need to handle all computer equipment gently and use proper shut-down procedures when necessary.
This ensures the students will have access to good, working computers throughout the year. After their time on the computer is done, the student leaving the computer area must wipe down keyboard and mouse with a Clorox wipe and make sure work station is neat. It is also very important that students visit sites that are approved by the educator. While most social networking sites and other inappropriate sites will already be blocked, there will also be game sites and such that the students are allowed to visit for rewards and the students are expected to remain off these sites during work time.
Not only does this keep the students on task, it also protects the computers from harmful viruses and other internal problems, again, providing the students with worthwhile machines to further their learning. There are also multiple out of class learning activities that provide students with countless learning opportunities. Two activates that require a firm procedure and excellent student participation are recess and field trips. When it is time for recess students will line-up using group procedure methods, students will first line-up in their individual seated roups behind the desk closet to the teacher’s. Each group is called individually to form one single-file line and students enter the hallway to go to the playground. Students are expected to keep their hands in their pockets or folded across their chest and travel quietly through the hallway as to not interrupt any other classes. Once on the playground students are free to run and play, all the while observing the playground rules. In addition to normal playground rules the students will also have a set of their own rules to follow.
Working with the students on the first day, a set of rules for the students to follow will be laid out by the educator, giving them ownership of their actions and consequences. Two of these behavioral expectations will include being respectful of all peers on the playground and following all safety rules. Recess is a time for students to build social skills and have a release from the classroom; it gives them a chance to recoup before returning to curriculum. While recess should be fun it is imperative that students follow all safety rules and report to the nearest faculty member if they see anything different.
If students are not following safety procedures they can hurt themselves as well as others and will lose recess privileges. Students must also be respectful to all of their peers on the playground. Any bullying or intolerance will be met with a strong reprimand and, again, should be reported to the nearest faculty member. The playground should be a safe zone for students to have fun and reenergize, to socialize and reiterate new information, this cannot be accomplished if a student feels uncomfortable or insecure. Another out of class activity that requires much more planning is a field trip.
Student participation in procedures is a must and students must understand the importance of staying with class and counting and role call procedures to and from the trip. Students will line-up using group methods and form a single-file line where upon they will enter the hallway using previous procedures. Once at the bus students will count, starting with one, until all students are seated on the bus, and role call will then take place. EVERY time students leave or enter the bus counting will take place to ensure no students have been left behind; before returning to the school counting AND a role call will again take place.
Two behavioral expectations while on a field trip include adhering to the “buddy system” and being respectful to the location we are going to visit. Each student will choose a buddy that they are accountable for and vice versa, if for any reason they cannot locate their buddy they are to inform the teacher immediately. Students are to assist with keeping themselves and their buddy with the rest of the class to ensure no students become lost or worse. Students must also be on their best behavior. While a field trip is a wonderful way to get students out of school and use active learning, it is also a fun and open learning setting.
Keeping students under control and making sure they are following the rules ensures students are learning the material they are there to learn and that students will be allowed to return to the location in the future. In order to evaluate student’s understanding of rules and procedures and what is expected of them as individuals one can use recitation. When introducing new ideas and information group recitations and discussions over a procedure, such as the “buddy system” idea for field trips, can be very beneficial.
Having students recite the procedure as well as the importance of it, either seated or using role playing tactics, instills the lesson in the children and gives them a firm grip on how they are expected to behave when on a field trip. Understanding that partner accountability plays a role in each students evaluation gives the students group accountability and in being more critical of each other, they are in turn more critical of their own behavior. When it comes to in-class activity of computer use the educator can prepare a small multiple choice quiz on the rules and procedures concerning computer use.
Once the quiz has been completed by all students the teacher can use checking methods to ensure students’ understanding. Using this method students grade their own assignments in a group discussion led by the teacher, who calls on one student for an answer and opens a group discussion on if the answer is correct or not and reiterates the reasons why each answer is correct. Asking multiple students one question before opening group discussion ensures a better evaluation of individual students.