Establishing a Positive Classroom Climate

November 29, 2015

I think all people can look back and think of that one teacher and classroom that they loved. I think we all learned a little more that year then any other. Why? It’s simple we felt valued, cared for and important.

Creating a positive classroom environment involves looking at all aspects of your classroom and teaching style. It has been proven that when the teacher models respect to their students, students will respect themselves, their teachers and their peers. Bullying and cyberbullying is a big issue in schools. According to Edutopia, Smart Hearts, creating a classroom atmosphere that supports peer problem solving, lowers bullying in the classroom. This is giving each student a voice and to remind them their emotions are important. Weekly classroom  meetings or Tribes can be easily implemented into a classroom. It would be really important to know how to lay out the program and make sure everyone is heard. According to Teaching Tolerance creating a social and emotional classroom is important for students to learn to accept differences and understandings. Students should be reminded to “listen respectfully,” ask questions and “put-downs are never okay”.

In a positive classroom, it is important for all students to know they have  unique gifts, talents and traditions. Students should learn in the classroom that everyone posses different qualities that make them special. I should educate myself about the students different cultures and religions at the beginning of the year. Teaching Tolerance recommends  ongoing learning  and reflections. Students differences should be celebrated and given a platform to educate others. Teachers can put up signs and symbols in the classroom to show that the classroom is a “safe zone” or “bully free zone.” These signs are good reminders that the classroom is standing against bias. Students should understand what the signs and symbols mean and why they are in the classroom. Teachers should also commit to creating a better world in front of their students. I should be held accountable for my promises. Letting my students know my personal goals is letting them get me. This is also helping each student feel connected.

Every morning, I stand at the door to greet my students. I think students perception of their day starts as soon as they walk into the door. It is my job as an educator to create a positive learning environment. Students will learn more and grow if they feel loved. It has been said that the most difficult children need the most love. As a teacher it’s important to find each child’s interests and motivation. All children should feel like they have a teacher who cares about their success.






Planning for English Language Learners

Next quarter I will be teaching a social studies unit on Economics. This unit discusses topics such as  needs, wants, resources, saving, spending and independency upon countries.

The Six Stages of Second-Language Acquisition

Pre-production This is also called “the silent period,” when the student takes in the new language but does not speak it. This period often lasts six weeks or longer, depending on the individual.
Early production The individual begins to speak using short words and sentences, but the emphasis is still on listening and absorbing the new language. There will be many errors in the early production stage.
Speech Emergent Speech becomes more frequent, words and sentences are longer, but the individual still relies heavily on context clues and familiar topics. Vocabulary continues to increase and errors begin to decrease, especially in common or repeated interactions.
Beginning Fluency Speech is fairly fluent in social situations with minimal errors. New contexts and academic language are challenging and the individual will struggle to express themselves due to gaps in vocabulary and appropriate phrases.
Intermediate Fluency Communicating in the second language is fluent, especially in social language situations. The individual is able to speak almost fluently in new situations or in academic areas, but there will be gaps in vocabulary knowledge and some unknown expressions. There are very few errors, and the individual is able to demonstrate higher order thinking skills in the second language such as offering an opinion or analyzing a problem.
Advanced Fluency The individual communicates fluently in all contexts and can maneuver successfully in new contexts and when exposed to new academic information. At this stage, the individual may still have an accent and use idiomatic expressions incorrectly at times, but the individual is essentially fluent and comfortable communicating in the second language.


Kelly- (Early Production) During our economic unit student must sort natural resources and human resources. Kelly would be given pictures that she could place on the chart paper. First we would start with natural resources everything from the earth. I would have a picture of the earth as well. I would model a few examples like wood, air, water and glue them on. I would also pair her up with a friendly student. As a group we would work together. Kelly could use one word, phrase or do this silently. This activity would not need alot of communication but material would still be taught.


Michael- (Speech Emergent) For our needs and wants activity. I would have items in the front of the classroom. To help Michaels vocabulary we would repeat as a class the items. As a group, students would have to pick out the items they need first and put them in order from most essential to least essential. Students would also need to label each item. Then they would pick out their wants. Michael would be hearing vocabulary for different items and be apart of the group moving items around. Students would be orally discussing vocabulary and physically moving items.

Mark- (Pre Production) Mark would be able to observe the interdependency activity. Three students are grouped together they are responsible for making pencils, bottles of water, t-shirts, ect. Each country makes something but relies on another “country” for an item. Students stand together and yarn gets tossed around from “country” to “country.” This activity paints a picture of interdependency without many words. Mark and see the yarn being tossed around the room and understand that each group of people needs something from the other.

Mary- (Advance Fluency) Mary would have the opportunity to share the currency that they used in their country. Other students would be able to share different currency from around the world. Mary would be able to practice speaking in front of the class. These are skill that even English speakers need to practice reguarly.


The Referral Process.

    Joanie Friel, Holy Cross Resource Teacher, often explains the referral process as a team game. The process can’t nearly be done by one person but by the support of all the key players. Identifying the students needed to be tested needs to be done in a sensitive and encouraging way. It is so important for the student to feel supported and intelligent. On the Teach One youtube video, a Teach One teacher talks about the time he heard a student say he finally felt smart and for so long he felt dumb. The whole referral process is intended for the child to get the recourses they need to be successful. Joanie also explains, many times the parents must be shown that the referral process is a good think and does not mean the child is stupid. It’s very important that the parents know the child’s strengths and all the things they are good at. When parents are not on the board the process goes much slower. Joanie says it could take years. She explains having data to back them is very important. For example, having a test that was completed independently and one completed by a scribe. Will show that information and knowledge is in their head but the writing stops the child proving they understand.
     While interviewing the 1st and 5th grade teachers, it became clear struggling students behave different as they became older. Kelly Weeks, 1st grade teacher explains how children show frustration through crying and acting out. Corri Degan, 5th grade teacher, says the struggling student avoids work and turns in incomplete assignments. She says due to the work load, the child falls behind quickly. In Finland teachers are available daily to pull out special education children and ensure they aren’t falling behind. This could be very helpful at Holy Cross. It defiantly puts a strain on the teacher making sure all the children are understanding and constantly caught up, no matter what their needs are. When I teach math their is a support teacher in the classroom. It is so nice to have anther teacher reword what is being taught. I think it benefits the children hearing one objective in two different ways.
      Before referring the child for special education and further testing, teachers go to great extremes to understand how the child best learns. Corri Degan, 5th grade teacher , explains she offers the child alternative ways to prove they understand the information being taught. The students can have a conversation with the teacher, make a video and draw pictures to represent the information. This reminds me of how Teach One teaches students to pick the learning medium that best helps them learn. I don’t think Holy Cross has the flexibility to offer as many learning option but it does prove the understanding that learning and assessments can happen in different ways.
    After the child is tested and receives an Individual Education Plan the special education teacher must monitor their process. Often Joanie will come into the classroom and offer different technology that will benefit the student. Joanie acts as an advocate for the student. It is Joanie’s responsibility to update teachers on the needs of the special education students. In the youtube video inside a special education classroom it demonstrates the huge rewards and difficulties of the job. Joanie must be always communicating with the teachers, parents and administration for success of each child’s IEP.
      Tomorrow’s world is making sure each student is being taught in the way that they best understand. Schools are being pushed to bring in technology in the classroom and differentiate the instruction to reach all levels. The IEP process is expensive and requires a lot of time. It would be nice if a teacher could be present at the school to observe the student in their environment. Teachers at Holy Cross help one another. They are send links to teach math better, learn more about certain disabilities, share great kids websites and more. Online sharing is pushing teacher to constantly improve. U.S  will soon need to adapt policies that push teachers to prepare students for the world they will live in.


Edutopia (Jan. 25, 2012).Finland’s Formula for School Success (Education Everywhere Series) Retrieved from

Social Butterfly LA (Nov. 30, 2010). School of One. Retrieved from

My Career RX(Aug. 2008). A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher. Retrieved from

Education: The end to the cycle of poverty.

Just after college, I journey to Tanzania for an eye opening adventure. I volunteered at an orphanage and a nursery school. Everyday I would walk with a group of children through Kwasadala village. The students were dressed in uniforms, had shaved heads and were anxious for the school day. While I was there I became very interested in the enrollment of boys and girls in school. When I walked to the schoolhouse, I often saw young girls walking to get water, cleaning and taking care of babies. I began wondering about the enrollment gap between primary and secondary school. Education Non Government Organizations are very aware of the growing fall out between students who begin and finish school. Education is so essential for health and career opportunities. In developing countries, NGOS are working to engage students and work with communities to encourage parents to keep students enrolled.

What I observed in the small village Tanzania is happening in developing countries all over the world. “An estimated 31 million girls of primary school age and 32 million girls of lower secondary school age were out of school in 2013.”(“Girls’ education and gender equality”, 2013) Girl’s education is imperative to reaching Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations. Education not only provides career opportunity but also helps stop the cycle poverty. “When all children have access to a quality education rooted in human rights and gender equality, it creates a ripple effect of opportunity that influences generations to come.” (Girl’s education and gender equality, 2013) Social and economic demands cause girls to be married early and begin a family earlier. The challenges for girls are stacked against them.

Education Shines Hope for Girls in Kenya’s Largest Slum is a grassroots organization that is combating extreme poverty and gender inequality. Kibera School for Girls now has 300 girls enrolled, PK-12. The school offers a safe haven for girls to be creative, ask questions and get a quality education. The founder of the organization was born in Kibera and understood the importance of education. The founder explains alongside of the lack of educations, girls became the victims of domestic violence and diseases. Grass root organizations have a place in making strides toward equality of education.

The Education Cluster within the UN Humanitarian Reform Agenda provides normalcy and stability for children who were in a disaster and emergency. This organization targets areas, which needs infrastructure or community outreach. This organization aims to be the first responders. Girls are looked at as vulnerable during times of crisis. The Education Cluster has targeted educational needs and gaps for both boys and girls.

In Tanzania, I witnessed poverty as a brutal cycle. The community as a whole must decide that education is a priority. I saw the young girls doing important household jobs. They are vital to the house structure. NGOs and communities are  needed to see a time where girls are expected to attend school and thrive.

(2013). Girls’ education and gender equality. A list from: Basic education and equality. Retrieved from

(2015). Education Shines Hope for Girls in Kenya’s Largest Slum.  United Nations Girls’ Eduction Initiative. Retrieved from

IASC Education Cluster. An international network for education emergncies. Retrieved from