Creating Healthy Safe and Supportive Classrooms

How to implement in your classroom using resources, tips and strategies.

This series will en-devour to provide resources, tips and strategies for implementing a safe, healthy and supportive classroom or school.

“If you have the end in view of … children learning certain set lessons, to be recited to a teacher, your discipline must be devoted to securing that result. But if the end in view is the development of a spirit of social co-operation and community life, discipline must grow out of and be relative to that aim’.” (Dewey, 1943)

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As educators we need to take into consideration the larger picture of what it is that we are teaching. Every teacher has a set of belief systems and goals for their classroom which extend past the everyday curriculum. This teaching is what we do under the surface of our teaching. We help students learn to be better people, make healthy life decisions, organize themselves along with their thoughts, learn to be polite and have empathy for others, be productive members of their school, community and world. Educators touch on all aspects of life with their students, helping to shape their beliefs and values. If you haven’t formulated your own set of beliefs, values and goals for your classroom I urge you to do so.

My Belief Statements

1)Instill a passion for learning

Without the drive and excitement of learning students will not get much from school. I believe that to facilitate actively engaged learners you must first nurture the desire and passion to learn.Through using Discovery Learning “ a method of inquiry-based instruction,

Belief1discovery learning believes that it is best for learners to discover facts and relationships for themselves.” allowing students to experience learning firsthand rather than having someone tell them how it should be I will encourage my students to explore learning. I will create a safe and open classroom for them to embrace mistakes and individualism. Through the use of collaboration I will help my students learn from each other and see that learning can happen anytime in any moment. I will encourage my students to enjoy the process of learning by showing them that I am always learning with them and on my own time.

  2) The teacher must facilitate individualized learning for their students

Belief2Individualized Learning

I will use UDL (Universal Design for Learning) when planning my lessons for my students. “An orientation intended to shape teaching to provide all students with access to the curriculum right from the planning process.”(Hutchinson) This method fits with ease into my believe that all students can learn. It helps the teacher facilitate learning for all students through planning for every type of student in their class from stage one of the planning. While in the classroom I will use DI (Differentiated Instruction) and IEP (Independent Education Plan). “Differentiated instruction is best thought of as an organizing structure or framework for thinking about teaching and learning.”(DI) By using DI teachers are able to take into consideration the individual students they work with: What do they enjoy ? What do they want to learn? What do they already know? The teacher then prepares lessons and has multiple ways for students to be able to achieve the outcomes based on their students. IEP’s I will ensure that all students can achieve and learn within my classroom. When I plan lessons with these two tools I am able to provide opportunity for all of my students to learn. The choices I provide for my exceptional students help to improve my class for every learner. Options for students with exceptionalities are also helpful for students without. I will offer equity within my classroom allowing each learner to use the tool, modification or adaptation they need to achieve the outcome. By actively being aware of my students different needs, using UDL and IEPs I will be able to provide the best opportunity of individualized learning.



3) Student’s unique qualities help foster a better learning environment

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http://stephenmccarthy.ca/tag/classroom-environment/

To facilitate a learning environment which both supports and values the unique characteristics of my students I will start by discussing and understanding the language we use together. “ What are some alternative ways of expressing the same thoughts without using disability as a “put-down””(Connor) This idea will help me create a classroom where we are conscious of how our words can affect others, setting the stage for further discussion. “Introduce the notion that differences are often perceived subjectively.”(Connor)Once we see value in our differences we are able to learn from each other more freely. More than students who have exceptionalities can contribute. If one student LOVES sports and the other hates sports but we can see each others points of view and have discussion then the two are able to learn from each other. Translate this into stronger differences such as cultural, political developmental or physical there are major areas where students can help the others learn. Potentially the classroom is the only environment where they can explore their differences openly. According to the Differentiated Learning Scrapbook 2010 being sure to create an environment to support DI learning includes students having a say in what they are working on and providing choice to the students.(DI) Setting up the class to reflect the unique aspects of your students can help expand student’s thinking and open them up to perspectives aside from the ones they grew up with. I would set my class up to reflect my students by allowing them to have a say in what we were covering, showing their artwork, stories and photos (when permission is given), encouraging discussion, respectful debate and being sure to give opportunities for all perspectives to be illustrated.

4) Teachers must allow choice in their classrooms

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More ideas for choice in the classroom There are many ways to incorporate choice into a classroom. I will ensure that when I am teaching I provide choices to my students. I can do this by gathering my students input when making decisions about what we will focus on during our lessons, providing options for work to be done individually, in small and in large groups, having my assignments allow for students to choose the best way for them to show their progress. I will be using constructivism within my classroom to give my students choices with what they are learning. This method will also help my students develop better problem solving skills. “constructivism states that learning is an active, contextualized process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it. Knowledge is constructed based on personal experiences and hypotheses of the environment.” This theory allows the students to work from what they already know and grow from that point. I will provide opportunities for my students to choose what they would like to learn and with guidance be able to research that area of interest.

 

 

5) Open door policy within your classroom with facilitate deeper learning

Listening to what my students have to say is important at all times including when it comes to discipline. I will incorporate Progressive Discipline into my classroom,  a term defined by the Ontario Ministry as “a whole school approach that utilizes a continuum of prevention programs, interventions, supports, and consequences to address inappropriate student behavior abelief5nd to build upon strategies that promote and foster positive behaviors.”(Caring) Where possible I intend to encourage and help my school make use of this technique. Through using restorative circles to help all affected learn from their behaviors and help mend the relationships. “The restorative conference or circle offers a pathway to restoring the relationships that have been breached by the offence.”(Caring) This method encourages communication at all levels and helps mend relationship which traditionally would not be focused on being repaired. I want my students to know they can speak up if they are encountering any issues. When students feel safe and supported they are able to learn. I will create an environment which supports the individuality of my students and celebrates our collective differences. I will be sure to give my students ample opportunity to share their thoughts on the lessons through: exit/entrance cards, communication box, circles and through asking questions.

Begin with yourself, develop a picture of what you want to have within your classroom. What are your goals, values and belief statements which will rule how you interact within your classroom? Once you have found your ideals you can begin to implement strategies within your class which match your goals.

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