Four Ideas for Building a Healthier Learning Environment in a Chaotic Classroom

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By Cecilia Ware — As I mentioned in my last post, I have been enjoying the insanity of what is an exceptionally chaotic and out of control classroom. I have discovered that it is by no means the fault of the teacher, she has to control a huge class, but nonetheless I thought up some tips to avoid a stressful situation in a classroom that has potential to be very out of hand.

1.) Downsize the class number.
One thing my cooperating teacher had said to me was, “The only way urban education can be successful is to have smaller classes.” Although I feel I may have to do some investigating into that on my own, I can certainly attest to the accuracy of that statement as it applies to my particular field placement class. The teacher spends the majority of the class trying to control and discipline thirty students who seem to live for creating chaos, so she never seems to be able to get through an entire lesson. If she did not have to worry about so many misbehaving children, she would be able to put much more focus on what they are learning rather than what they are doing.

2.) Separate students who really don’t get along.
Obviously not every single person in the class will be best friends or even get along with each other, but when students become so distraught by the presence and/or behavior of another that they become violent, action must be taken to ensure their safety and the safety of others in the room; even if that action is changing one student to a different homeroom or class. There are two boys in my class who get each other so worked up that there is always extreme language and anger passed between them on a regular basis. The scary part is when a physical altercation ensues, which has happened more than once. When the behavior of one student puts himself or others in the room in danger on more than one occasion because of a sour relationship with a fellow student, it is time then for one of them to change environments. This will provide a safer environment for everyone else as well.

3.) Check into student backgrounds.
There are a few students in my placement who are so violent and emotional and misbehaved that I have to wonder if that is what they are seeing at home, too. For the really emotional ones, perhaps there is an undiagnosed issue that needs looking into. Perhaps getting a feel for where a child is coming from can help you understand and adapt to his behavior in the classroom and handle it effectively.

4.)  Build a relationship of trust between you and each student.
In my EDUC: Teaching Children With Special Needs class today, we discussed building relationships of trust and comfort with our students, especially those who do not enjoy that luxury elsewhere in their lives. By extending yourself as a source of understanding and comfort, problem students may respond in a positive manner as they discover how much they enjoy having a relationship built on trust and support. By showing them you care about them, they may just come around to the idea of learning.

These ideas were a result of some brainstorming I was doing during a particularly chaotic day at field placement, and as I put my ideas and theories to the test, I will hopefully have some substantial answers for my next blog. Stay tuned!

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