STRAND 4: EFFECTIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS

Management and monitoring of time, relationships, students, and classrooms to enhance learning, including the ability to:

a.  Engage students in meaningful learning experiences while maximizing the use of instructional time;

In a seventh grade classroom I planned an activity where students searched for French vocabulary words around the room.  Students became more engaged in the activity than expected so I extended it for another day to give them more time.  This activity operated at many levels because it engaged students visually as they searched, socially as they compared answers, and creatively as they used a dictionary to add vocabulary words of their choosing.

b.  Structure the classroom environment to promote positive peer interactions and positive self-esteem, to ensure that each student is a valued participant in an inclusive learning community;

In my literacy placement I had students complete a reading on geometry in everyday life.  After they had finished and written about it I made a chart on the board of how they thought geometry related to their lives specifically.  I took an answer from every student and was sure to thank them and support their answers, especially those which were less obvious.  Many students mentioned career goals and I encouraged them to pursue those in an effort to support positive self esteem.

c.  Construct a learning environment and grading process where both teacher and students have high expectations and mutually understand what is expected of each other to foster optimal achievement of all students;

My geometry classroom included space for both individual and cooperative learning in the form of the homework and the labs.  In the case of the homework students were encouraged to first work individually, but if a question arose to seek help from their classmates before the teacher.  Labs were a chance to learn cooperatively and promoted achievement for all students. The final project was entirely driven by student interests and choices.  It was in itself a problem-solving activity where the problem was the current needs of the community and as such was particularly meaningful to the students.

d.  Design and implement a classroom management plan that utilizes respectful disciplinary techniques to ensure a safe and orderly learning environment, (e.g., instructional procedures utilizing the concepts presented in the State Board of Education’s Positive Behavior Support Policy 2006), which is conducive to learning and takes into account diverse needs of individual students;

My classroom management is based on respect between student and teacher and between student and student.  Any student who fails to show respect in any way must either correct their behavior or will be removed from the classroom.

e.  Understand and uphold the legal and ethical responsibilities of teaching (e.g., federal and state laws and SBE policies pertaining to positive and effective learning environments, appropriate behavioral interventions, student retention, truancy, child abuse, safety, first aid, health, and communicable disease);

In accordance with state regulation I am trained in first aid and when an accident occurred in my geometry class I was able to deal with it appropriately as a result.  Reports were filed and students were talked to about the situation.  Both accepted responsibility and relationships were mended.

f.   Use a variety of teaching methodologies and techniques (e.g., lectures, demonstrations, group discussions, cooperative learning, small-group activities, and technology-enhanced lessons), and objectively assess the effectiveness of various instructional approaches and teacher actions for impact on student learning;

In my 90-minute geometry class I tried to each day allow time for questions, lecture, small group activities and independent work.  This combination gave me a chance to meet the needs of many students in the way they were most comfortable working.

g.  Establish a learning environment which invites/welcomes collaborative teaching practices; and

During my algebra II class if I noticed a student explaining something to another student during my lecture I would ask that student to come to the front and share their insight with the class.  Students saw this as me valuing their ideas and insight and saw the classroom as a place where anyone could be teacher or student.

h.  Differentiate between assessment and evaluation procedures and use appropriately.

I evaluate students based on what I observe on in class work and assess based on daily quizzes.  The in class assignments allow me to see not only what students understand, but how willing they are to ask for help when they need it, and what type of questions were asked.  In class assignments were graded based on effort where as quizzes were graded based on correctness.