Learning Environment

        The classroom must be a good environment in which all students feel welcome and comfortable. This teacher has set up her classroom to be a place where students can take risks and be themselves. It all adds to their success.

        This teacher has high expectations for her students not only for behavior in the classroom, but for academic success. Physically, the room is set up to ensure that when the teacher is working with one group of students, she can still monitor the progress of the other students in the classroom. Two different activities can be happening at one time throughout the day. The teacher is able to move freely, back and forth between the groups if needed to answer questions or offer guidance.

        The students are very aware of the daily routine and it is posted on the board for all to see. The teacher has developed this routine so that there is usually no "lag time" or extra time where the students might be tempted to misbehave. Each student enters the room and begins that day's task without a lot of supervision or reminders. Since the room is so well run, students are able to complete their work as expected.

        The teacher uses a unique behavior management plan, wherein she awards tokens to the students for good work or good behavior. What makes it unique is that the students are able to "buy" time with one of the teacher's dogs that she brings to the school as part of her positive reinforcement behavior plan. She is involved with a program called the Delta Society (http://petsforum.com/deltasociety/default.html) where they use pets as therapy and visit nursing homes, hospitals, etc. The dogs are trained to work with people and respond well to the affections of the students. The students love to work in order to spend time with the dogs.

        If the students happen to act out or misbehave, the teacher asks them to get back to work or points out model behavior from another student in the classroom. If this does not work, a time-out warning is issued. It this still does not curb the misbehavior, the time-out is written down on a piece of paper with a brief reason for the time-out. The teacher and the student both sign the paper and the time-out must be served either that day during lunch recess time or the following day. There are no idle threats in the classroom, which makes for a very organized and well-run classroom.

        Classroom management is an important part of the teaching process. A classroom that is well-run helps to keep the students on task and the more time they spend on task, the less time you have to use to discipline and the more time you have to teach the students. This teacher has an excellent program in place that is effective with her students. They all respect her classroom rules and they know of her expectations. It is a very comfortable and pleasant classroom.