Classroom Climate Plan
August 21, 2008
A. Action Research and Diagnosis
Phase I- Problem Identification
name is Elizabeth Resendiz and I am a fourth grade teacher at Saint Louis of
France School in the city of
Focus Question: How can I create a greater sense of community in my classroom?
Phase II- Plan of Action
I will work towards creating a greater sense of community in my classroom throughout the entire school year. I will dedicate the first months of the school year to get to know my students and to create activities which will provide opportunities for students to get to know each other. I will also have the students participate in group activities for different subjects throughout each school day so that over time the students will get use to working with each other. I will model the appropriate ways to act when working in a group. I will give positive recognition when I observe students cooperating within their groups and attentively listening to all the members in their group. I will also try to incorporate classroom discussions so that the students can learn to communicate as a whole and learn to be united. I will teach the student games to play outside in which everyone can be involved and have fun. I will reflect on my observations of the class throughout the year to see whether the students are acting more like a community.
Phase III- Data Collection
Phase IV- Analysis of Data
After collecting all the data, I have found out many valuable things about what is needed to create a classroom community. The student interviews and surveys at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year were very interesting and the student responses provided a clear pattern as the year progressed. I learned that providing a safe environment for the students has a positive impact on the students’ attitudes of coming to school and learning. Furthermore, the videotapes taught me ways to improve the group activities and discussions so that all the students could feel at ease sharing with each other and cooperating. The daily field notes that I recorded helped me focus daily on new findings and ways to improve the classroom setting. The students’ journal responses where also very helpful in providing evidence on how the student were feeling after every group activity and discussion. The journals also provided evidence of how attentive listening and respect really made the students feel comfortable sharing their thought and opinions openly. Furthermore, the data showed that as the year progressed the students realized that they were responsible for their actions and for the stability of the community.
Phase V- Plan for Future Action
I will do many things differently in the classroom as a result of this study. I will put more effort into providing a safe learning environment for my students. I will do this by not tolerating any form of verbal or physical abuse inside and outside my classroom. Student behavior such as name calling or bullying will have consequences. I will also take the time to get to know my students individually. I will model positive recognition so that my student can begin to take it upon themselves to provide positive recognition to their classmates. I will also model ways to interact in a group activity and discussion so that the students will see the importance of listening attentively to their classmates, cooperating in their groups and respecting each others opinions. I will provide students with different jobs to be done in class, so that everyone can feel that they are responsible for a certain task that needs to be done in order to help the classroom run smoothly. I will constantly let the students know that we are a family and that we need to stick together and work as a team.
I have learned that classroom community has a major impact on student learning. If students feel like they belong in their classroom they will learn more. They will feel accepted and valued by their classmates and teachers, and this will make it easier for them to get involved in the lessons being taught and engaged in the group activities and discussions. I also learned that if students are taught to be attentive listeners while working in groups and class discussions they will implement that skill when the teacher is teaching a new lesson and even out in the playground with their classmates. Furthermore, I learned the importance of emphasizing that we are a family and that we all need to work towards the good of the entire family not just ourselves.
B. Goals and Vision Setting
Goals for Classroom Climate
It is my responsibility as a teacher to provide a safe learning environment where students feel accepted. I will teach my students to be respectful attentive listeners and to take responsibility for their actions in improving their classroom environment. I will provide my students with positive recognitions and clear expectations.
C. Technical Management Plan
Cue Technique and 100% Attention Strategy
As a teacher, I must put my best efforts into implementing a good technical management plan for my classroom. My students depend on a successful technical management plan in order for them to learn as much as possible during the school year. My technical management plan is thought through before the school year begins. I take into considerations my expectations for how I want the class to run and I also think about what worked or what did not work the previous year. I think about how I am going to gain students attention, give directions, teach transitions and procedures. During the first few weeks of school besides getting to know my students, I spend a lot of time teaching the attention cue technique, the way to transition from one subject to the next, and the different procedures that need to be learned in order for the classroom to run smoothly and above all so that the students will have a positive learning environment.
The first thing I make known to my students is that I expect 100 % attention when I am talking or someone else in the classroom is talking. I want to teach my students to be active listeners and to learn to respect their teachers and their classmates. When I need the students’ attention I use a cue technique to make them aware that I need 100% attention at that moment. The cue technique that I use is chanting. I chant the phrase “1,2,3 eyes on me” and the students respond “1,2 eyes on you.” I expect my student to chant back their response, look at me, and put their hands together. The reason why I want them to have their hands together is because I have noticed that it is harder for students to listen to directions or explanations if they have things in their hands. I teach my students the cue technique the first day of school and we continue practicing the chant for the first week or two until the students automatically respond to the chant. While my students learn the cue technique I give a lot of positive recognition to the whole class for remembering the cue and for providing me with 100% attention. The students like it when I acknowledge how well they do things and over time they exceed my expectation and do a great job at giving 100% attention. There are however some students that will try to get away with some talking while I or another student is talking. When I see this happening I stop and wait until it is quiet and I start over. If I notice a student talking while he/she is suppose to be listening I stand close to him/her and this usually works. If the student has a habit of talking I talk to him/her privately and explain my expectations, ask that he/she tell me what he/she will do to improve, and give him the consequence for talking while others are talking which is sitting on the bench for 5 minutes during recess or lunch.
Directions, Transitions, Procedures
Getting students to listen to directions is another process that needs to be taught as soon as possible. Once I have 100% attention from the students, giving directions becomes easier. When I give directions, I expect my students to make the effort to understand them and to follow through with them. At the beginning of the year I inform the students that when I give directions I expect them to be still and to listen attentively. I teach them that they may begin the task as soon as they hear me say “you may begin.” The purpose for having the student wait for those words before they start the task is so that they are more alert and not moving around getting materials out while I am still explaining the directions. I try to be as clear as I can when giving directions. I also write the directions on the board while I am going through the steps. This helps students who are visual learners to be more successful in understanding the directions. Before I allow the students to begin the task I ask if there are any questions. At the beginning of the year students are hesitant to ask because they might feel that others will think they are dumb, but I let the students know that in this class I expect them to ask questions openly and I also make it clear that no student needs to laugh or make negative remarks about the student asking the question. I also give positive recognition to the students that do ask questions to clarify their misunderstanding so that other students will be motivated to ask questions as well. After I am done answering any questions the students might have, I randomly ask students questions about the directions that I just gave. This helps me see if the students understood and whether or not I need to clarify something. If the student I asked a question too does not know the answer I clarify what the student did not understand and I encourage him/her to ask questions the next time he/she does not understand what to do. Once there are no more questions and I have done my random check I say the words “you may begin” and the students begin their assigned task.
I dedicate the first weeks of school to teach transitions and procedures. If I want an orderly classroom with smooth transitions I need to drill and practice what I expect my students to do for transitions as well as for all the different classroom procedures. When I explain how to transition from one activity to another and how to do procedures I try to be very clear as to how I expect things to be done. I then model the way transitions and procedures should be done. I first model myself and then I have a group of students model for the class. Then we practice the transition or procedure as many times as is necessary until the students know exactly what to do. If I see noticeable improvement, I give positive recognition to the class. When transitioning from one subject to the next I give the student a certain amount of time to get their materials and be ready for the next subject. I usually count off from 10 on down to motivate the students to be quick. If a certain procedure is not done properly I have the student do it again until they do it right. As the students successfully transition from one activity to the next and do procedures properly I let them know how impressed I am about how fast they are learning and how well they are doing things.
The first day of school as I assign homework I explain to the students that they are accountable to do their homework every day and to turn it in on time. I write the homework daily on a specific place on the board and I expect the students to record the homework on their planner book at the end of the day. I teach the students the procedure that is used in class to turn in homework. First, I teach the student how to head their paper. I have them write their name on the left hand side of their paper, the date on the right hand side, and their student number on the top right corner. Once the students come into class there are bins in which the students turn in their homework as they are unpacking. I have two homework monitors that are responsible to gather the homework and put it in number order. Once they are in order, the homework monitors record the numbers that are missing on a paper and give it to me. I call on those students and let them know that they have to finish their homework at recess and lunch and if they still need more time to finish they have to stay after school to finish. The students do not like spending their recess or lunch time doing homework so therefore they are pretty good at turning it on time. If a student consistently does not turn in homework I call the parents to let them know what is happening and usually the student begins to turn in homework on time.
D. Motivation, Expectations, Emotional Climate
Motivational Goals and Philosophy
It is important for me as the teacher to be motivated to teach every day and to find ways to motivate my students to learn. Students need a teacher who is excited to go to work everyday, who is patient, who is caring, and who they can depend on to provide a safe learning environment. One way I try to motivate my students is by providing them with creative lessons in which the students can learn and have fun at the same time. I also find opportunities to praise students for trying their best and working hard.
Satisfying Basic Needs
As a teacher, I am expected to teach grade level curriculum in a safe and welcoming learning environment to all the students that walk into my classroom. That means that I need to accommodate all students no matter what ethnic group, learning style, or academic need they might have. I can do this by providing differentiated instruction to the whole class. I can dedicate time throughout the day to work with groups of students that need extra help on different subjects while others are working independently, and I can provide more challenging work to students who grasp concepts quickly and finish their assignments early. I can also teach lessons on different cultures around the world so that the students can learn to appreciate all cultures.
Strategies for Motivation
I use different motivational strategies in my classroom to get the students excited about learning. The motivational strategies that I use are mainly short term and extrinsic. For example, I give my students good grades and rewards when I notice that a student has worked hard to do an assignment or followed directions or procedures very well. In my class I give my students tickets when I notice that the students are on task or are being respectful and kind to their classmates. At the end of the week the tickets are used for a raffle in which the students win different prizes like stationary, candy, or small toys. I also have a marble jar which is meant to motivate the whole class. Every time I see the class as a whole follow through with a transition or procedure very well I give the students marbles. Once the jar is full of marbles I give the students an ice cream party, a chance to play a class game of Pictionary, or a movie and popcorn. The students are very motivated to fill the jar and as a result they try very hard as a class to be on task the entire day. I also give my students personal praise when I see a student working hard and following directions.
I implement long term intrinsic motivational strategies in my classroom more towards the middle of the school year. I begin with short term motivational strategies to get the students excited about following directions, doing transitions and procedures properly, and being responsible and respectful students. As the year progresses, I move towards long term motivational strategies. I do this by providing more positive recognition to my students instead of rewards when I see them making good choices and being responsible students. For example, when my students do a good job at going to an assembly and the principal or other teachers comment on how nicely they are behaving I ask them how it makes them feel that others are noticing how well they are acting. They realize how good it feels to be noticed for doing a good job and then they look for those positive comments instead of the rewards. I think that it is important for my students to be driven to be on task, to be respectful, and to be attentive in class for the purpose of feeling good internally about what they are accomplishing and not because of the rewards they will receive from me.
Emotional Climate Expectations
My classroom expectations are meant to provide a safe and positive learning environment for my students. I expect them to be kind and respectful to their classmates and teachers. I expect them to be attentive listeners to both teachers and students. I also expect them to try their best in school, to ask questions when they do not understand something, and to be accountable for the things that they are responsible to do. I also expect them to follow through with transition routines and classroom procedures so that we spend as much time as possible learning.
E. Whole Class level Goals and Strategies
Social Bonds, Class Coherence
In order for me to provide my students with a safe learning environment I need to promote social bonds within the whole class. As a class we need to be like a second family to each other. I need to provide the students with many group activities so that the students can get use to working together. Also, I need to have classroom discussions in which all student feel safe to say what they feel without the fear of being laughed at or yelled at. The students need to learn to respect each others opinions and listen attentively when others are speaking. This will take a while, but if I work at it every day by giving positive recognition when noticing acts of respect and attentiveness to others my students will become a big family.
Consequences for misbehavior need to be enforced or else the students will not take the teacher’s expectations seriously. Students need to see that if a student breaks a rule there is a consequence that follows. As a teacher, I need to be clear about the expectations I have for my students and consistent to implement consequences if students decide to go against what is expected. The consequences that are given when breaking a rule include the following:
2. Sitting on the bench for 5 minutes during recess or lunch
3. Note sent home and reflection letter signed by parents
4. Schedule a conference with the parents if misbehavior continues
I currently give my students a warning when they break a rule the first time, but I have come to realize that warnings really don’t work as a form of consequence. Students are simply left off the hook the first time they break a rule. As a result, the students do not fear breaking a rule the first time because they know nothing will happen and therefore they will not take the consequence seriously. Furthermore, warnings will only lead to student misbehave more often.
Dealing with Difficult Students and Extreme Cases
When dealing with difficult students, I will need to be patient and positive in order to get through to the student. I first will need to find a time to speak to the student privately because I do not want to embarrass or shame the student in front of the whole class. I will need to remind the student of my expectations. I will be firm and give the student the consequence for his/her misbehavior and then I will ask him or her to tell me what he/she plans to do differently from now on and every time I see the student following the rules or being on task I will give him/her positive recognition to encourage good behavior. However, if the misbehavior continues, I will send a note home and have the student write a reflection letter to me about what he/she did and what he/she needs to change. If the misbehaved student does not improve on his behavior, I will have a conference with his/her parents and we will write a behavior contract together. If there are extreme cases of misbehavior and nothing I do seems to work, I will ask the school principal for advice.
Creating Community and/or Responsibility
Creating community in my classroom is one of my main goals. I intend to work very hard all year to help the students experience positive relationships with all of their classmates. I want to have them interact as much as possible by doing different group activities, discussions, and games. My students will learn more if they feel that they belong and that they are respected by their classmates and teacher.