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Standard 4: Effective Learning Environments

Management and monitoring of time, relationships, students, and classroom to enhance learning including the ability to:

A. Engage students in meaningful learning experiences while maximizing the use of instructional time.

Part of the art of teaching is being able to prepare for the unexpected. Although in my classroom I have an established routine, this routine is often interrupted by a variety of assemblies, birthday celebrations, fire drills, or other unexpected events. During the course of a day, despite uncontrollable circumstances, it is important to maximize the learning time that I am given. Each day, my students undergo the same routine. They know that when they come in this sit down and work independently on their bell-work. They then are expected to gather their materials and prepare themselves for the morning calendar.

After calendar, the students complete their individual calendars. calendar, the students complete their individual calendar at their desks. The students anticipate math after calendar and therefore finish their calendars in a timely manner in order to be prepared for math. The establishment of routine has allowed me to maximize my time during the day because I do not spend access time explaining to the students what is coming next.

Each and every day, teachers are presented with “teachable moments.” These “teachable moments” give me the opportunity to expand on a given subject area that interests my students. During a lesson on Abraham Lincoln, I explained that Abraham Lincoln was a special man because he freed the slaves. My students, however, did not know what slavery was. The majority of my students are African American, making slavery a very important part of their culture and identity. I quickly altered my lesson to center around slavery. I shared with them pictures of slavery and stories of slave families. This was not only an impactful, but also important lesson for these young students. Although I try to stick to my lesson plans, there are few days when lessons go exactly according to plan.

B. Structure the classroom environment to promote positive peer interactions and positive self-esteem, to ensure that each student is a valued participant in an inclusive learning community.

In every classroom that I have worked in, I have tried to establish a positive learning community in which students can feel safe to express themselves freely. In my classrooms this happens in a variety of ways. Students are encouraged to work in groups or pairs across subject areas. Student pairs and groups are carefully selected in order to match students up, as best as possible, with classmates who are at their ability level, above their ability level and below their ability level. Students will rotate between various leveled partners. This teaches students to function as both learners and teachers, equipping them with the confidence to succeed in future endeavors. Each student has areas of strength and areas of weakness, because of these natural differences, partners and groups change across subject areas. I have also created a group work rubric in order to assess the ability of students to work together.

The way in which the partnerships are structured can pair all students with similar ability levels together at the same time. This allows me, as a teacher, to differentiate instruction without drawing attention to the fact that some groups are more advanced. Those students who are more advanced are given additional tasks to complete. Those students who need more assistance are isolated and given the opportunity to receive greater teacher attention. Those who complete the tasks in a timely fashion are also given the opportunity to become the teacher. This not only boosts the self-confidence of the students, but also reinforced the concepts that were learned.

My students are encouraged to interact with their peers in a positive way daily. My students actively participate in group celebrations of learning. It is a time for students to share personal works or achievements. Students are given the opportunity on a daily basis to showcase their reading ability. At the end of every unit of writing, we also have a
group celebration of writing
in which each student corrects and rewrites their favorite work and shares it with the entire class. Daily, my students are encouraged to work closely with their peers in a safe and productive learning environment.

All Standard 4 sub-standards

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