Creating and maintaining a feeling of community is an integral part of any classroom environment. It helps students to feel valued, respected, supported, and prevents them from being afraid to share their individual opinions and engage in discussions. Therefore, teachers who desire to make the most out of teaching and increase the level of productivity in the classroom, constantly work on establishing a sense of community. After receiving permission from my mentor, I had an opportunity to observe and analyze the atmospheres at three different classrooms. In this summary, I will reflect on my experiences by comparing and contrasting the three classrooms.
- Talking about the sharing of class schedule with the students, I would not say that there were considerable differences between each classroom that would affect the feelings of comfort and safety for young individuals. In the first classroom, the teacher wrote down the schedule on the board and read it out loud so that every student would have a possibility to carefully examine it. At the same time, in the second and third classroom, the teachers simple mentioned the schedule in the beginning of the class without putting a large amount of emphasis on it. I do not think that these differences played a huge role in creating a feeling of community; however, the first approach seems to add organization and understanding.
- Communicating classroom rules and behavioral expectations is an important part of a learning process. In the first classroom, the teacher was rather strict about that. She delivered all the expectations in an authoritative tone and did not ask questions or encouraged a discussion. On the other hand, the second teacher was more relaxed and, after talking about the rules, discussed with the class what might be the consequences of breaking those rules. This strategy of brainstorming together with the students proves to be effective since it makes the students feel engaged and important (Shalaway, n.d.). In the third classroom, the teacher clearly communicated the expectations about specific tasks and answered all the questions that students had about them.
- In order for the students to feel like they are a part of a supportive and respectful community, it is necessary for the teacher to implement various techniques, routines, and behavioral reinforcements during the class. One of the ways in which each of the teachers in three classrooms tried to maintain a positive environment was joking. The teachers made appropriate funny comments about the class material or the atmosphere in the classroom which made students laugh and enjoy the learning process. In addition, the teacher in the second classroom always asked for an individual opinion of students whenever any interesting point appeared instead of simply sharing the information from the textbook. By doing this, she made students think collectively, express their opinions, and encouraged to learn to listen to others and evaluate their assumptions.
- Overall, each of the teachers had similar expectations to their students – to be proactive, to learn the material as thoroughly as possible, to achieve academic success, and to engage in discussions. However, there were still slight differences on the things each teacher focused on while delivering information to the students. The first teacher expected students to be disciplined, well-mannered, and pay close attention to whatever she saying to them. The second teacher focused on creating discussions, making students think and reflect on the information they receive, establishing collaboration and mutual support. Finally, the third teacher focused more on individual learning and finding the right approach to every student. This strategy was best presented by the way the teacher responded to every question and encouraging each student to ask questions so that they understood the material right.
- As mentioned earlier, every teacher had their own focus points and goals of the teaching process. Therefore, it can be stated that the technique of every teacher is different and is established on their personal teaching preferences, opinions, knowledge, and experience. It was identified that every teacher, knowing the importance of maintaining a classroom community, tried to establish a positive environment in the classroom, support the students, and make them feel safe and encouraged to acquire new knowledge. The main difference was the level of strictness they had. The first one was the strictest while the second one was the least strict. This contributed to the level of discipline is the classroom as well as the desire of students to engage in discussions and ask questions.
- Since the main goal of my observations was to evaluate the classroom community and the level of positivity in the learning environment, I came up with ways to improve these specific elements. I generally liked how each teacher approached the learning process; however, each of the lacked something to make it perfect. For instance, I would recommend for the first teacher to make a more relaxed atmosphere in the classroom, let students engage in long discussions and make mistakes instead of simply looking for the best answer. In addition, for the second and third one I would suggests using various technology resources, such as interactive boards, online quizzes, and educational videos, instead of simply delivering the information in a spoken manner. In this way, they will be able to establish a more engaged atmosphere since students are interested in new technological developments, incorporate a variety of learning styles, improve collaboration and teamwork (“Top 5 benefits of technology,” n.d.).
- Surprisingly enough, design also plays a huge role in establishing a sense of community and creating a certain level of positivity in the classroom. When studying in a light and well-equipped classroom, students are more likely to feel comfortable and encouraged to learn new material and communicate with pears. Therefore, schools have to pay a considerable amount of attention to creating the design which will be the best for studying. The third classroom was the best one in terms of the design for a positive environment. All the furniture was modern, there were many big windows that allowed a huge amount of daylight to enter the classroom, and the colors used in the design were light and pleasant to look at. Thus, the students felt energized and motivated to learn and engage in discussions.
Overall, this was an interesting learning experience which helped me to understand the importance of community in the classroom. It helps students to feel supported, safe, encouraged, and, most importantly, makes the learn and remember better. There are so many ways teachers and schools can contribute to positive environment; that is why, they have to spend a substantial amount of time on that.
Shalaway, L. (n.d.). Creating classroom rules together. Web.
Top 5 benefits of technology in the classroom. (n.d.). Web.