Students from Weber Middle School, Port Washington Union Free School District in Long Island work in small groups.
How to head off problems before they happen.
We have all had that one student who isn’t meeting our expectations for good classroom behavior. In some cases, this misbehavior only detracts from that student’s learning experience, but in other cases, it is disruptive to the whole class. Disruptive behavior is a drain on class time and resources, leading many educators to conclude that the best solution to disruptive behavior is to prevent it before it occurs.
Establishing a dynamic classroom environment is one way to head off problems before they happen. Dynamic classrooms stimulate engagement and foster cooperation, so that students are less likely to act out.
“In a dynamic classroom, students can connect to one another and feel safe in their environment. Learning becomes the priority goal,” said Tricia Calise, an ELT instructor and member of the Middle Country TA. In her course, “Creating the Dynamic Classroom Environment,” Calise helps teachers develop spaces that keep students on-task and out of trouble. Here, she shares her strategies for creating a dynamic classroom:
Creating discrete spaces in your classroom for different types of activities can enhance students’ ability to read, concentrate, or work in groups. Consider putting comfortable seating like beanbag chairs in your classroom library. Create learning centers for hands-on lessons that provides for students to progress physically and mentally from unit to unit. Pull desks together for large group discussions or break them into groups of three or four for smaller teams at work.
Flexible seating, which includes the use of different types of chairs, stools, and desks, allows students to choose the seating arrangement that works best for them. Giving students choices helps them feel secure and contributes to their overall sense of wellbeing, which in turn, primes them for participation. Every child is different, and tailoring seating to their needs removes barriers to learning.
Design your classroom in a way that reinforces the rules and processes you have established. By looking around the classroom, students should be able to tell where lines form, where supplies are, and what comes next in their day. Make it as easy as possible for students to retrieve and use the tools they need throughout the day. “The classroom should permit orderly movement, make efficient use of space, keep potential disruptions to a minimum, and provide a well-organized area for learning,” Calise said.
ELT coursework is offered year-round and can be used for undergraduate, graduate and in-service credit as well as to fulfill Continuing Teacher and Leader Education requirements. For more information, go to elt.nysut.org.