Positive Learning Environment in the Classroom

Abstract

Teacher conceptualisation of behaviour problems is paramount in choosing what measures to use to avert exigent classroom behaviour. If instructors perceive learners’ conducts as suggestive of the poorly organised classroom, they may look for means to restructure the class setting to exploit conditions for the occurrence of apt behaviour and avoid behaviour challenges. That is, teachers, focus on precursor approaches and try to set conditions for suitable behaviour to happen. They consider the physical arrangement of classrooms in their endeavour to create a positive learning environment. Moreover, they focus on organisation and accessibility, which are two crucial features when establishing a useful learning environment. Besides, instructors establish lucid class prospects to guarantee that scholars know what is expected of them. Classroom schedules should be set in a way that they do not tire students. Creating classroom rules helps to enhance positive relations. Class rules guide teachers in determining which conducts to underpin and delineate behaviours that can attract endorsement from teachers.

In an attempt to promote a helpful learning environment, instructors should deal with awkward classroom behaviours by fostering a suitable relationship with learners that makes them feel secure in learning environments. Teachers should address students using grammar and terminologies that they can understand and avoid using harsh comments on sensitive students. The way teachers communicate with students significantly contributes to creating a positive learning environment. Negative comments may spoil a learner’s self-esteem and affect his or her learning. This article will discuss approaches for establishing antecedent classroom plans intended to avert awkward behaviour and consequently augment classroom management plans.

Introduction

Learners with emotional and behavioural disarrays characteristically display incoherent rejoinders to teacher instructions and portray conducts that are upsetting to the learning environment (Arthur-Kelly, Lyons, Butterfield & Gordon, 2007). Even though teachers prefer helpful intercession to retribution when controlling classroom activities, many classrooms are not affirmative learning environments. Westling (2010), discovered that majority of the teachers did not utilise efficient classroom management approaches and regarded exigent student behaviours as imparting negative effects on the entire classroom environment and successive relationships between learners and instructors. Oliver and Reschly (2010) alleged that superior behaviour control and classroom organisation abilities are essential for both exceptional and general education instructors. Using approaches that create and enhance constructive relationship can “Result in more successful classroom environments for both teachers and students” (Oliver & Reschly, 2010, p. 187).

Teachers should commit themselves to create a positive learning environment, and therefore manage to recognize and engender classroom conditions that may trigger and encourage desirable conducts (Balson, 1992). Hardman and Smith (1999) claim that whenever instructors establish environments of concern, they craft conditions where latent disputes are planned for, regulations and costs identified and productive behaviour is at the centre for classroom support. Besides, an environment of care uses redirection instead of reproach as the channel of behaviour change (Charles, 2008). Learners are given a number of options to select from to achieve an agreed-upon instructional objective. Hardman and Smith (1999) allege “Teachers that create a positive learning environment pay close attention to all of the environmental stimuli that are present in their educational setting” (p. 178).

Addressing Problematic Conducts

Cognitive behavioural theory has come up with self-management skills that people can use to develop positive behaviours. Moreover, the skills improve the effectiveness of other behavioural involvements. Gordon (1974) posits “Competent self-management skills increase student motivation to comply with instructions and directions, and give the student ‘portable’ and readily generalisable metacognitive skills” (p. 76). Teachers can use cognitive behavioural theory’s recommendations to assist learners with negative conducts, especially those suffering from unruly behaviours, poor performance and low self-esteem. Teachers can address problematic behaviours by openly and aggressively teaching pupils positive thinking habits and skills that are in congruence with their social and behavioural self-control. They can achieve this by assisting students to comprehend their judgment processes and widen their self-control abilities. Additionally, teachers can engage students in identifying and selecting behavioural objectives (Honigsfeld, Cohan & Thompson, 2013). Teachers should create a facilitative class setting instead of managing students. Students should be assisted on how to select and maintain their conducts.

Kohn (1993) gives a number of intervention practices that teachers should use to help students overcome inappropriate behaviours. First, teachers should identify students who can gain from behaviour change. These are students who show the desire to change their conducts. Second, teachers should evaluate students and their conditions to formulate plans and aptitudes that guarantee success. They should verify skills deficits and initiate training programs to equip students with missing skills. Third, teachers should run cognitive training programs that intend to transmit natural skills. Last, teachers should make sure that the interventions incorporate activities intended to improve transmission and generalisation of novel skills.

Smith and Misra (1992) argue that classroom organisation is a many-sided and scientific procedure. It is imperative that instructors know how to distinguish between exigent actions that are best solved through incident mitigation and actions that are better managed through other mechanisms intended to change behaviour. Meek but potentially troublesome behaviour challenges may occasionally be as a result of poor classroom organisation. The nature of the class environment may affect learners’ behaviours in manners that do not necessarily require instructors’ involvement, but a reflection of how the learning environment is structured (Lewis, 1997). For instance, instructors may manage mild awkward behaviours during group activities by ensuring that seating arrangements are not congested. Deterrence of challenging behaviours is an indispensable component of classroom behaviour administration. Therefore, pioneer incentives and strategies that support deterrence are primary elements of an all-inclusive classroom management system.

Application of antecedent methods is the initial element of an efficient classroom management system. Instructors should highlight and execute preventive measures to prompt proper behaviours and mitigate troublesome habits in the classrooms. According to Conroy, Sutherland, Snyder and Marsh (2008), experimental studies bear the notion of a certain level of management plans. Conroy et al. (2008, p. 26) state “Active supervision, developing a list of rules, lessons that teach behavioural expectations, and monitoring student progress were themes derived from the studies”.

Physical Organisation of the Classroom Setting

Organisation and convenience are primary features when designing the physical plan of a classroom. The physical arrangement of the classroom helps in the avoidance of exigent classroom conducts by ensuring that learning materials and other auxiliary resources are readily accessible (Emmer & Evertson, 2012). Teachers should create a system for “Issuing, storing, returning, and utilising learning materials in an endeavour to avert confusion. Some propositions for establishing routines include assigning shelf room for dictionaries, basal readers, supplies and all sorts of assignments” (Emmer & Evertson, 2012, p. 42). In addition, teachers should set up practices and establish methods of borrowing materials to ensure that every student has access to learning materials. Moreover, instructors should regularly assign distribution of learning materials to students on a rotating basis to make sure that all students get a chance to share the supplies (Smith & Misra, 1992). Advanced scheduling with respect to assortment and allocation of learning materials maximises learning time and makes learning environment conventional.

Nordquist and Twardosz (1990) claim that seating plans have repercussions on teacher-guided instructions. If allowed to do so, students will in most cases sit near their friends, particularly those that are comparable to them and share common concerns and capabilities. In ordinary circumstances, “Learners who sit in the front of the classroom, in most cases, are more likely to receive reinforcement from the teacher” (Nordquist & Twardosz, 1990, p. 275). Instructors tend to focus most on learners seated in front and forget those seated behind. Teachers believe that these students are more likely to participate in the lesson, respond to questions, and make pertinent remarks than those who sit behind. Learners sitting at the back of a classroom get less consideration and do not gain equally from lessons (Glasser, 1990). Thus, a definite plan of a classroom directly affects classroom coaching and relations. Consequently, instructors should tactically organise the seating plan. For example, teachers can come up with a sitting arrangement that guarantees that every student participates in class. Students who usually sit in front of the class can be arranged such that they are strewn all over the room, and sit next to students who would prefer to sit behind the class. This would ensure that active students help their colleagues who never participate during lessons.

According to Lewis (2008), the physical environment plays a great role in developing a helpful learning environment. The physical environment gives students lucid information about how teachers and society perceive them and how the teachers value learning. The physical environment can encourage autonomous learning. Lee-Manning and Bucher (2012) contend that establishing positive learning environment has far-reaching effects on how instructors and learners interact. Besides, it influences how activities are set, and duties assigned to different students based on their abilities. Teachers can create a positive learning environment after evaluating and understanding how the physical environment influences learning.

Classroom Schedule

Precise classroom anticipations enhance the probability of students discerning what their instructors expect of them. The class program makes it easy for students and teachers to prepare for the next activity. Teachers should consult students before coming up with a class program. Students should be given an opportunity to make decisions on negotiable events. In addition, the class schedule should consider students with different disabilities. Smith and Misra (1992, p. 357) allege “The schedule should be on permanent display in a layout that shows aptitudes and age of different learners”. The class program should follow Premack’s law. The law states “Students are likely to engage in a low probability activity if they know that it will be followed by a high probability activity that they enjoy” (Premack, 2005, p. 221). For instance, many students do not like mathematics, which is a low probability activity. Therefore, teachers can alternate mathematics with a high probability activity like physical education.

Students are unable to concentrate for long hours. Therefore, a classroom schedule should put into consideration the maximum duration that learners can focus on. For elementary schools, class activities should not take more than 40 minutes. Revising classroom schedule may lead to confusion among students. Hence, instructors should avoid revising class programs so that students can predict the next activity. Smith and Misra (1992) posit that class schedule should motivate learners. At times, intended activities end before a lesson is over. In such an event, teachers should engage students in enjoyable activities until the end of the lesson.

Well-known and memorable procedures and habits can reinforce learning. They give a guideline that assists students to know what to anticipate. Additionally, systems and practices can facilitate to “Automate part of the learning process and free up cognitive space to concentrate on something else” (Smith & Misra, 1992, p. 359). Besides, they can reinforce collective relations and create a sense of safety among the learners.

Classroom Rules

Hardman and Smith (1999) claim that creating class rules is an essential step towards enhancing constructive relations and communicating at an early stage the prospects for class actions and their results. Classroom rules help instructors to determine which habits to sustain entirely and delineate the manners that can attract support from the teachers. As a consequence, rules act as a helpful antecedent control system when created and discharged correctly (Hardman & Smith, 1999). Classroom rules should be associated with positive outcomes and not entirely with scolding. Moreover, the rules should be created as early as possible, preferably at the start of the school calendar. It is imperative to state classroom regulations positively and give learners a chance to create the rules. It makes them adopt and abide by the rules since they believe that they are meant for their sake. Students violate rules if they think that the rules oppress them. Hence, teachers should consult learners when developing class rules.

Consultation should start by highlighting safety rules for students and the reason for adopting them. Furthermore, it should identify possible penalties for contravention of class regulations. It is important to come up with a small number of classroom rules. Creating a long list of classroom rules may scare learners and hamper their participation in-class work (Musser, Bary, Kehle & Jenson, 2001). Teachers should make sure that learners understand classroom rules by using the starting weeks of the school calendar to orient students to the rules and their consequences. Instructors should regularly watch the students make sure that they abide by the rules once they are familiar with the regulations.

Musser et al. (2001) maintain that accuracy prevents misunderstanding and abuse of the rules by learners and makes it easy always to implement penalties for violation. Students should not only assist in creating classroom rules, but they should eternalise them. One way to guarantee that students eternalise classroom regulations is to engage them in coming up with the rules and consequences for their infringement. Smith and Misra (1992) state that rule-making should be a concerted exercise where instructors and learners evaluate the benefits of creating a stable classroom environment and partaking in the joint development of the rules. Additionally, teachers should create a program that educates and supports class practices positively and consistently.

It can be tasked to watch and implement many rules. Besides, it is hard for students to memorise and abide by all the rules. Therefore, class rules should be made as minimal as possible. Additionally, they should be readily accessible for simple orientation and to work as a reminder to students to stick to class anticipations. Teachers should re-examine and modify class rules whenever necessary to strengthen automaticity and learners’ rights. Consistency is an essential aspect of an inclusive classroom management plan. When awarding and punishing students based on their conducts, teachers should be confident to use and support the classroom rules by approving learners who abide by the rules and reprimanding those who contravene the rules.

When both learners and instructors participate in the formulation of classroom rules, they take charge of establishing a helpful learning environment. Strengthening classroom rules constantly is the most vital talent that an instructor can employ to create positive relations. Hardman and Smith (1999) state “One reliable method of consistent rule reinforcement is the use of a token economy” (p. 191). A token economy is a ceremonial and logical attempt to promote positive support in which instructors appreciate learners for respecting the rules. Appreciation may be in the form of tangible items or events. Teachers should involve students in determining the kind of awards to give to students who abide by classroom rules and the time to award the students.

Teacher-Student Relationships and Peer Influence

Lane, Pierson, Stang and Carter (2010) maintain that teachers can solve exigent conducts by creating healthy relationships with learners in an endeavour to establish a helpful learning environment. A healthy relationship between teachers and students would make learners feel comfortable in a learning atmosphere. Lane et al. (2010) analysed instructors’ expectations of learners conduct. They emphasised the importance of having a steady relationship between teachers and students. The researchers illustrated the role of “Decisive planning, and building effective communication and suitable relationships in an effort to promote positive behaviour change at all grade levels” (Lane et al., 2010, p. 165). Among the proposals for establishing necessary teacher-student relationship include speaking to learners in real terms, assessing praise and remedial responses, discovering substitutes to proper behaviours, and learning how linguistic and social distinctions affect peers’ and grown-ups’ relationships in the learning environment (Ford & Kea, 2009).

Ford and Kea (2009) posit “At times, teachers may find themselves directing critical remarks toward a particular student” (p. 8). They warn that teachers should regularly use grammar and words that fit the learners. Besides, instructors should use real terms when talking to students to make sure that they understand. It is vital that teachers not only create chances for learners to be successful and acknowledge their effort, but also make use of teachable minutes to give feedback and help students to change classroom behaviours that interfere with learning atmosphere. Therefore, praise and condemnation should be explicit such that students can know which features of their conduct to uphold and which to change.

Assisting students to select replacements to improper manners leads to the endorsement of beneficial behaviour change. Teachers should always remember that the alternative habit must be an incompatible habit and must meet all the functions of the inappropriate classroom habit (Pearl & Knight, 1998). It will ensure that a student does not revisit the inappropriate habit because the alternative habit meets all his or her needs. For example, assigning a student to a particular area or duty will ensure that the student does not impulsively wander in the classroom. It is hard for a student to wander in class and be at a particular area simultaneously. To promote the right behaviour, which can address this challenge, a student may ask for permission to move around the classroom from the teacher.

According to goal-centred theory, instructors should focus on “Need-based explanations for why their students are motivated to misbehave and then negotiate alternative ways for these needs to be met” (Rogers & McPherson, 2008, p. 125). Teachers should focus on individual students based on their misconducts. After identifying inappropriate behaviours, teachers should involve the entire class in determining alternative habits, which can create a positive learning environment. Moreover, teachers should offer overt instructions, restrictions and expectations that students should observe. The theory advocates the use of rational and natural consequences instead of punishment (Tauber, 2007). Instructors can achieve this by ascertaining what motivates each student to engage in inappropriate conducts and helping students to know and appreciate their misconducts and intentions.

Teachers should develop a learning environment that encourages beneficial behaviour change by offering augmented chances of engaging in the right alternative behaviour that addresses a similar problem (Michael, 1990). Creating possibilities for learners to be productive will enhance the probability of students opting to embrace active habits and shunning inappropriate habits. Besides, it will strengthen students’ effort to engage in constructive acts. Hence, teachers should make sure that they come up with alternative behaviours that are equally satisfying as engaging in the unpleasant behaviours (Marzano, 2003). It is the only way that they will encourage students to abandon their inappropriate behaviours and embrace desirable conducts.

Conroy et al. (2008) argue that poor classroom supervision disrupts learning and teaching. Thus, instructors have to confront the truth of addressing varied learning desires of all learners. Rosa and West (2009) explored teachers’ viewpoints on classroom supervision. Their findings reinforced the conventional acknowledgement that teachers always cite classroom management as a critical challenge. According to Rosa and West (2009), creating a successful and supportive learning environment involves discerning non-cognitive disparities and getting to identify with learners.

Ford and Kea (2009) recommend instructors to apply socially receptive instructions that answer proactively and compassionately to learner differences to resolve the varied socio-emotional and instructive needs of students. Linguistic and social disparities add challenges to what can be an overwhelming assignment for the majority of the instructors. Environments that promote inequality and multiplicity are essential entities for developing constructive behaviour change and cultivating appealing classrooms (Wolfgang, 2008). Instructors should endeavour to know social and linguistic distinctions and the related needs of learners from varied educational settings to be culturally receptive (Ford & Kea, 2009).

Appropriate and inappropriate behaviours arise in the course of a student’s attempt to meet existing and future needs. The needs may range from fun, freedom, power, to survival needs. Tutors should apply deterrent methods to deal with classroom behaviours. Slee (1995) perceives all behaviours as constituting thinking, doing and feeling, and claims that all acts depend on personal choice. Therefore, teachers should assist learners to meet their needs through the right behavioural options rather than forcing them to abide by rules. A positive learning environment is one where it is easy and possible for learners to meet their needs using affirmative behaviours (Bear, Cavalier & Manning, 2005). Teachers should know that the locus of misconduct depends on the classroom environment and the interactions between the teacher and students. Restoring positive interactions between teachers and learners can go a long way to managing inappropriate behaviour and establishing a positive learning environment.

Conclusion

This essay discusses antecedent plans intended to avert negative classroom behaviours and establish necessary learning environment. Teachers can select, organise for, and use preventative methods to promote beneficial student conducts and reduce unruly conducts in the classroom. The essay recommends the use of intervention strategies founded on the principles of cognitive behavioural theory to address problematic behaviours and promote positive habits among students. Additionally, the article describes easy and feasible practices that teachers should exercise in order to establish a helpful learning environment. Teachers should come up with a seating arrangement that encourages all students to participate in lessons. Besides, the seating arrangement should ensure that all learners enjoy a substantial level of success.

Classroom rules should be structured in a way that they convey the prospects for classroom behaviour and enhance the probability of learners to be productive. Teachers should involve students in the formulation of classroom rules and their consequences. In addition, teachers should establish a balance between praise and condemnation and know the role of linguistic and social disparities in the conservation of positive learning behaviour. It is imperative to create a clear classroom schedule. It would boost cooperation between students and teachers because it would help students to anticipate the next activities. Teachers should use a need-based approach to determine why students engage in negative behaviours and establish measures to resolve the problem.

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