How Changing Your Classroom Environment Can Increase Learning and Make Classroom Management Easier

How Changing Your Classroom Environment Can Increase Learning and Make Classroom Management Easier LS4K

Changing Classroom Environment for Easier Classroom Management

As a practising educator, it is good practice to reflect on your classroom environment on a regular basis to increase learning and to make classroom management easier.  It can be so easy to set your classroom environment out at the beginning of a school year and then work with the space, just as it is for the rest of the year (or longer!)

There are many situations where you can improve your classroom management by changing your classroom environment – either through a total overhaul or by tweaking certain areas of your room to facilitate improved  learning.

Easy classroom environment changes

Look at Seating

  • As your students grow, keep in mind that their seating needs may change.  We all learn better when we are comfortable and in alignment with the chair that we are on.  At a minimum, make sure that a student has a chair which is big enough and fits well with the table that they are at.
  • You may find that with students who have sensory issues, the challenge of sitting on a regular chair can be an overwhelming one.  This potential overwhelm will prevent the best learning possible.
  • Have a look at our article on Alternative Seating to help you with ideas of how to improve your classroom environment
  • Alternative seating that you can consider could include:
      • Therapy/Exercise balls
      • Bean bag chairs / floor cushions
      • Work “floor” space
      • Standing desks
      • Lap desks
      • Wobble stools/Rocker chairs
      • T-stools
  • Your students will work best and learn best if they can problem solve for themselves and work out which area of the classroom environment is the best place for the particular learning that they are doing during any given lesson

Look at Visuals

  • At LifeSkills4Kids, we are passionate about providing alternative means of communication so that the whole class can be included in the daily timetable and daily routine
  • Many of the students in your class can benefit from using visuals to inform them of what is happening next, how their school day looks, providing them with choices and allowing them to make sense and understand their routine
  • For further information, have a look at our article about the use of visuals in the classroom
  • Visuals can be used effectively in a classroom setting for many curriculum areas, they can be especially useful for:
    • The daily routine:  all kids like structure and the most effective way to enable learning is to have a visual, supported by words and sounds.  A daily routine can be as simple as a class timetable on the wall or as complex as individualised timetables for each child.
    • Phonics:  it is important to teach phonics in a structured way and flash cards, written notes, charts and diagrams work best for many students to learn something new.
    • Learning Tools:  there are a wide variety of learning tools out there which can promote communication and understanding for your students.
    • eg, Colourful Semantics is aimed at teaching kids to develop their grammar.  It works by cutting sentences into their thematic roles then colour codes them.
    • eg, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) can be a very useful visual tool to help children learn functional communication. It was developed in 1985 and it is used worldwide with kids who have various cognitive, physical and communication challenges
    • Promoting “good” behaviour:  Using visuals in the classroom to help with behaviour management is an ideal way to engage all of your class.  Visuals can also teach students to self-regulate – the Just Right Kids Technique has been developed to encourage kids to learn about and self-manage their feelings so that they are “just right” for being able to access an activity.

Look at a multi-sensory approach to learning

  • With a class of 30 children, there will be some kids who have sensory needs and it is important to help them learn too.  Our Sensory Checklist can help you to best accommodate their needs.  Another useful article to have a look at would be our Sensory Issues that Impact Learning.
  • You can make small changes to your classroom environment which will have a big impact on students who have sensory needs:
    • Some students need help in managing their sensory needs so that they can access learning opportunities effectively.
    • In our school environment sensory check list, we highlight areas for you to consider such as:
      • Glare
      • Fluorescent lighting
      • Visual clutter
      • Noise, both internal and external
      • Seating arrangements
      • The importance of movement
      • Proper playground equipment
    • It is also important to consider natural lighting and where your students are seated in relation to the light that is in your classroom.  Some students will benefit from being closer to a window, whilst others will need a seat closer to the front of the room or at the side of the room.
    • You are the experts when it comes to your class of students.  It is worth taking the time to consider individual kids and whereabouts in the room their optimum learning environment will be.

What sensory environment is perfect for work and concentration for you … and your students?

Take a moment to consider what your perfect working environment is.  We are all individuals and will all have different preferences – this goes for you as a teacher too.  A classroom environment is likely to reflect the teacher’s learning style and to some extent their personality too.

It is absolutely 100% ok to make your classroom environment a unique one that enables you to operate at your optimal potential.  It’s also equally important to consider the needs and learning styles of your students – what does their perfect work environment look like?

Knowing exactly how to assess and make changes in your classroom can be very daunting to start with, and you still can be unsure of what to do.

So, we put together a program where you can find all the information you need to improve your own classroom sensory environment in one place.

The 20-Day Classroom Detox is an accredited program for teachers (in NSW) which steps teachers through what to look for when taking a fresh look at their classroom sensory environment. It is also useful for other professionals such as Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists and other members of the multi-disciplinary team

As a practising educator, it is good practice to reflect on your classroom environment on a regular basis to increase learning and to make classroom management easier.  It can be so easy to set your classroom environment out at the beginning of a school year and then work with the space, just as it is for the rest of the year (or longer!)

There are many situations where you can improve your classroom management by changing your classroom environment.  This can be either through a total overhaul or by tweaking certain areas of your room to facilitate improved  learning.

Easy classroom environment changes

Look at Seating

  • As your students grow, keep in mind that their seating needs may change.  We all learn better when we are comfortable and in alignment with the chair that we are on.  At a minimum, make sure that a student has a chair which is big enough and fits well with the table that they are at.
  • You may find that with students who have sensory issues, the challenge of sitting on a regular chair can be an overwhelming one.  This potential overwhelm will prevent the best learning possible.
  • Have a look at our article on Alternative Seating to help you with ideas of how to improve your classroom environment
  • Alternative seating that you can consider could include:
    • Therapy/Exercise balls
    • Bean bag chairs / floor cushions
    • Work “floor” space
    • Standing desks
    • Lap desks
    • Wobble stools/Rocker chairs
    • T-stools
  • Your students will work best and learn best if they can problem solve for themselves and work out which area of the classroom environment is the best place for the particular learning that they are doing during any given lesson

Look at Visuals

  • At LifeSkills4Kids we are passionate about providing alternative means of communication so that the whole class can be included in the daily timetable and daily routine
  • Many of the students in your class can benefit from using visuals to inform them of what is happening next, how their school day looks, providing them with choices and allowing them to make sense and understand their routine
  • For further information, have a look at our article about the use of visuals in the classroom
  • Visuals can be used effectively in a classroom setting for many curriculum areas, they can be especially useful for:
    • The daily routine:  all kids like structure and the most effective way to enable learning is to have a visual, supported by words and sounds.  A daily routine can be as simple as a class timetable on the wall or as complex as individualised timetables for each child.
    • Phonics:  it is important to teach phonics in a structured way and flash cards, written notes, charts and diagrams work best for many students to learn something new.
    • Learning Tools:  there are a wide variety of learning tools out there which can promote communication and understanding for your students.
    • eg, Colourful Semantics is aimed at teaching kids to develop their grammar.  It works by cutting sentences into their thematic roles then colour codes them.
    • eg, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) can be a very useful visual tool to help children learn functional communication. It was developed in 1985 and it is used worldwide with kids who have various cognitive, physical and communication challenges
    • Promoting “good” behaviour:  Using visuals in the classroom to help with behaviour management is an ideal way to engage all of your class.  Visuals can also teach students to self-regulate – the Just Right Kids Technique has been developed to encourage kids to learn about and self-manage their feelings so that they are “just right” for being able to access an activity.

Look at a multi-sensory approach to learning

  • With a class of 30 children, there will be some kids who have sensory needs and it is important to help them learn too.  Our Sensory Checklist can help you to best accommodate their needs.  Another useful article to have a look at would be our Sensory Issues that Impact Learning.
  • You can make small changes to your classroom environment which will have a big impact on students who have sensory needs:
    • Some students need help in managing their sensory needs so that they can access learning opportunities effectively.
    • In our school environment sensory check list we highlight areas for you to consider such as:
      • Glare
      • Fluorescent lighting
      • Visual clutter
      • Noise, both internal and external
      • Seating arrangements
      • The importance of movement
      • Proper playground equipment
    • It is also important to consider natural lighting and where your students are seated in relation to the light that is in your classroom.  Some students will benefit from being closer to a window, whilst others will need a seat closer to the front of the room or at the side of the room.
    • You are the experts when it comes to your class of students and it is worth taking the time to consider individual kids and whereabouts in the room their optimum learning environment will be.

What sensory environment is perfect for work and concentration for you … and your students?

Take a moment to consider what your perfect working environment is?  We are all individuals and will all have different preferences – this goes for you as a teacher too.  A classroom environment is likely to reflect the teacher’s learning style and to some extent their personality too.

It is absolutely 100% ok to make your classroom environment a unique one that enables you to operate at your optimal potential.  It’s also equally important to consider the needs and learning styles of your students – what does their perfect work environment look like?

Knowing exactly how to assess and make changes in your classroom can be very daunting to start with, and you still can be unsure of what to do.

So, we put together a program where you can find all the information you need to improve your own classroom sensory environment in one place.

The 20-Day Classroom Detox is an accredited program for teachers (in NSW) which steps teachers through what to look for when taking a fresh look at their classroom sensory environment. It is also useful for other professionals such as Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists and other members of the multi-disciplinary team.

Written By Deb Hopper, Occupational Therapist

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