Shaping the Learning Environment

For Mentors to Share

Fundamental to successful and joyful classroom practice is remembering this: Our end goal is not managing student behaviour or insisting on compliance. 

Our end goal is our students learning and that is why we intentionally use the phrase ‘shaping the learning environment’ rather than behaviour or classroom management. 

Shaping the learning environment positions us as active and agentic rather than passive and reactive. This approach focuses our attention on the pedagogical choices we make even before our students step into the classroom. Key considerations in this approach include:

  • Create a welcoming, hospitable environment for all students. Make sure your smile reaches your eyes as you welcome them at the door and they know you really are glad they made it today. Be willing to accommodate the individual needs of students – that is what hospitality is all about.  
  • Know your students, including their data, so that you plan teaching and learning activities that meet their needs. Students who are experiencing success (even when it’s hard) are more likely to be engaged, positive and persevere.
  • Be proactive, deal with small issues before they escalate and always be looking to de-escalate potential conflict.

SUPPORTING RESOURCES

As I noted above there is no shortage of material available in this area. Be selective and look for approaches that fit with your end goals.

One nugget: this podcast interview with Tom Bennett is extended, but it is full of gold. (You might want to skip through the introduction.)  All the experienced teachers I know who have listened to it have responded, “I wish I’d heard this when I was a beginning teacher!” So enjoy!

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