Instruction is the main course in a classroom, but classroom management is what sets the table. Many educators outline classroom management as establishing classroom procedures, managing student behavior, developing positive relationships, and implementing a culture/environment for student learning.
Classroom management varies from classroom to classroom with similar characteristics revolving around a positive student-learning environment. It’s vital in all classrooms including virtual, gyms (physical activity), music rooms, computer-based, and vocational (Erdogan et al., 2010). Classroom management expands into quality school environments as more classroom’s that have positive cultures breed throughout a school building. There are challenges that face schools and teachers, but positive school environments greatly impact staff/students, as there are many ways that continue improving schools everywhere.
Challenges School Environments Face
All schools regardless of positive or negative cultures face challenges in regards to school environments. A major difference is how schools decide to either succumb to these challenges or attack them. Erdogan et al. (2010) study shows that “the reasons of misbehaviors” are attributed “to family related issues and student related issues” (p.883). These misbehaviors can be divided into two categories, internal and external factors. Internal factors are attributes teachers can contribute to and external factors are attributes that teachers cannot (home life, family issues, etc.). It has been easy for teachers to blame external factors for students’ misbehavior and classroom issues.
Another challenge school environments face is having ineffective teachers. Bland, Church, Clayburn, Neill, and Shimeall (2011) researched why teachers’ contracts were not renewed. Based on the study, school administrators had classroom management skills, including “creating an environment of respect and rapport, managing student behavior, managing classroom procedures, and establishing a culture for learning”, at the top of the list. The challenges shared revolve around need of positive relationships. This seems simple and almost cliché, but it is truth. School administrators face challenges attacking these, but lead the way in doing it as when school administrators sneeze, the school catches a cold (Whitaker, 2002).
How Does a Positive School Environment Impact Students and Staff?
School climate helps set the overall tone inside of a school climate. Every school’s climate is different, but there are common aspects among schools whose climates are positive and those that are negative. School climate is generally defined as the total environment of a school building, in which is grouped into one facet being school climate (Owens, 2015). School administrators help depict the school climate through leadership style, care, vision, supporting teachers/students, and equipping effective teachers.
The importance of having effective teachers in a school lies within the role of the school administrator setting the school climate. It is easy to write a teacher off regardless of how difficult he/she is. It is the administrator’s responsibility to implement change. Negative teachers do not just put negative vibes into a school’s atmosphere, but they also influence some to follow them. If negative teachers/staff impact the school climate, positive teachers/staff make impacts that are infectious also. Positive staff members help students and other staff members want to come to school. The more positivity that pours through a school building, the more turnaround people realize, from attendance to teacher buy-in.
Ways to Make a Better School Environment
As shared, there are ways that school environments plummet through negativity, but they may quickly turnaround through positive lights that shine. Schools become better through a variety of facets including consistency, a clear vision/mission, relationship-building, and school pride.
Consistency goes hand-in-hand with clear expectations and procedures. If a teacher is consistent in their expectations and procedures, the students will know what to expect each day. Students, like most of us, are more comfortable (whether they will admit it or not) in an environment that is consistent, organized, and orderly. The same goes for teachers/staff members. The more consistency shown by school administrators (ranging from implementing policies to being at the school from year to year) teachers/staff members begin to follow that lead and know what to expect.
“Mission, vision and values are supposed to be the North Star of strategic planning, the beacon by which organizations set their strategic compasses and then align their everyday priority setting” (Logan, 2004, p. 1). Vision is the outlook for an ideal future as a mission is the description of the purpose and preparation for the ideal future (Logan, 2004). Values hold the core beliefs that prepare the ground for vision and a mission.
Without a vision and purpose, it will be easy to get caught up in what individuals want rather than what is the best decision for what we are doing. “When an organization lacks a compelling purpose, its people cannot help but be uninspired. On the other hand, a leader committed to a forceful vision focuses the energies of the entire organization” (Jarman, 1992). The administrator’s vision is for students to learn in a way that will make a positive impact on them daily, which in return will make a positive impact on the world around them. The mission is to ensure that all students are able to grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally through a loving, positive school environment that focuses on providing students the best ways to better themselves each day.
Relationship-building may seem like an initiative at times now, but it is the pure essence of making a school environment better. Teacher-to-student relationships are not primarily built around content. They are built around skateboarding, attending extracurricular events, music, expectations, and meeting the students where they are in each moment. I am a firm believer that you may have got suspended yesterday, but you will get a “hey, how are you” and a fist bump today. The same goes for staff members. A valuable resource in education is teachers that educate students throughout school buildings. Teachers learning from one another is based around relationship building is important and positive within a classroom/school. In order for teachers to learn from each other, they must learn from school administrators. School administrators have to take care of these valuable resources through support, consistency, getting to know them, safety, and being the positive leader.
If you are proud of your school, I believe you will do whatever it takes to take care of your school. As an administrator, you will have school spirit through hallways and events. Students and staff that buy-in wear the school gear (shirts, jerseys, hoodies, etc.). I believe displays on school walls from murals to student work are vital in showing off what your school is about.
I am learning everyday that there are negative voices and the positive voices have to be louder. So sharing the great things about one’s school is vital. Some avenues share are through local media, website, social media, community events, and simply doing the right/great things daily even when no one is watching.