Creating a safe learning environment

For the beginning of this school year, I’ve been really focusing on creating a student-led environment where students feel safe to take risks and to feel valued for who they are and what they bring to the class.

To build  a positive classroom environment, I have been doing a few different activities.

The first activity was a class treaty. I had decided to let the students come up with the way we were going to do this activity to promote student voice and engagement. We had a few options for how we could achieve a class treaty and it was decided that in small groups, the children would brainstorm different values and statements for how they’d like our classroom to be this year.

The students then decided to write these on post-it notes and to organise them into categories of ‘yes, no, or maybe’ and a final list of ideas were formed. A group of students who wanted to do the display then created a class scroll (still to be finished) which has really encouraged a big sense of ownership.


The next thing is that I’ve created a ‘Room 17, Class of 2017’ magazine/book. Here, we included some information on each student so they can get to know each other a little deeper. This will also be a home for class photos and other things the students want to include as a ‘year book’ of sorts.


Next, we created florets – a Pasifika flower that shows the following things:

  1. Name
  2. Family
  3. Dreams and aspirations
  4. Our interests and hobbies.

This was a great way to promote discussion between students and to see where there are similarities across students. The students said they felt a real sense of pride in who they are and that it made them feel more valued as a member of the class – that they were valued.

Glasser Behaviour Management

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On a daily basis, I use the Glasser and choice theory principles to engage with students. I use choice theory and the 7 connecting behaviours to discuss student behaviours. This has helped students to take more responsibility for their behaviours and to see how their choices create both positive and negative consequences. 

This has been particularly successful for dealing with student issues as a way to remedy the friendships.

I am still learning how to use this most effectively, however, I think I have already come a long way in my behaviour management approach. Now, when I deal with behaviour situations, I am more kind in my behaviour management and it is more of a discussion between all parties involved rather than a top-down approach.

Karakia

Each day, as a collective, the class say a well-known karakia, He Honore, to begin and end the day.

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This has been embedded in our daily class culture and even when I am not at school and there may be a reliever, the children still say the karakia.

 

Gathering Student Voice to Inform My Teaching Practice

In Term 2, I noticed that my students’ interest and motivation for Writing was decreasing. Students seemed bored and when I said it was writing time, would respond negatively.

This prompted me to create a writing survey to help me get a better gauge on their attitude towards writing and to see how I could make it better for them.

survey

I created a Google Form for students to fill in and said they would have free reign to write what they truly felt. I had made sure that students knew I wouldn’t get upset if they admitted they didn’t like what was currently happening in class.

From this, I found out that almost all students wanted to write made up stories which prompted me to plan and implement a narrative unit in Term 3. I also found out that my students wanted to do more free writing each day. As a result, I implemented 20 minutes of free writing 3 times a week. The students responded really well to this and love it when they see ‘free writing’ or ‘writing’ on the daily timetable.

I would like to take a student survey now to compare the results and attitudes towards writing.

Use of assessment – diagnostic

At the beginning of the year, we did our schoolwide testing in Term 1 as a diagnostic tool to see where the children were at in their learning and where possible learning gaps were.

I used the STAR test results to see the gaps in my classes learning and I used this to form my reading groups. I also used the Reading P.A.T test to see areas of focus for their reading comprehension. I then focused on the ‘gaps’ in their comprehension and used these as specific learning intentions and focuses for each guided reading session.

In maths, I used the math P.A.T to see where there were gaps in the students’ knowledge in all math strands. I also used the students’ GLOSS results to inform my teaching of number strategies I needed to teach as well as concepts. For example, I noticed from my GLOSS interviews that a lot of my class were unsure about decimal place value and how to use strategies on decimals. I then used this as the basis for my teaching in Term 1, 2 and continued to develop in Terms 3 and 4.