is one common goal among teachers: to see every one of their students who walk
into the classroom to succeed and to improve their academic performance. “It is
in the classroom that teachers have the greatest control over conditions that
affect learning and behavior” (Stewart and Evans, 1997, pg. 53). Every
classroom and teacher is different, as each teacher has her own techniques in
keeping her students engaged in her lessons. Teachers have unique ways in which
they keep their students mesmerized by their never ending knowledge, artistic
abilities, humor, and discipline techniques. Each teacher also has a different
approach in how she seats her students, what kind of classroom management she
prefers, the emotional approach she employs and how she creates an environment
that best works for her. If every teacher has her own style of teaching and
learning, doesn’t that mean every student has his own environment that works
best for his academic achievement, satisfaction, wellbeing or survival?
to Charles Darwin (1959), any being can be affected by the environment. If the
environment is profitable, that being will have a chance of survival. (p.
18). Every day, children are walking
into classrooms filled with sensual as well as academic stimulation. Not only
are the students impacted by the physical environment of the classroom, but
they are also affected by the communication between peers and teachers.
Jonathan C. Erwin states (2004), “from the time students line up at the bus
stop to the time they get home in the afternoon, students are impacted in one
way or another” (p. 23). The accumulated effect of the school environment can
produce either a negative or positive impact on that child’s life.
every class, students are taught how to act appropriately, what objectives they
will be expected to learn, and are assessed on achievements of both. Most of
the time, students do not have choices in how they learn new concepts or ideas.
The students rarely have the power to choose anything they do, or how they do
it. According to Jonathon C. Erwin (2004), “one of the most effective ways to
help students meet their needs for power in the classroom is to help them
experience success through producing competent, or even better quality, work”
(p.118). When a child does not feel successful in a class or subject due to
lack of power and choice as well as academic competence, generally what
happens, is that the child gives up or moves onto distracting others. This promotes
the question, how does the environment affect students’ learning achievements?
There are multiple ways a child can be affected by his environment and multiple
ways a teacher can accommodate her students by creating a conductive and
motivational learning environment.
examples of how the environment impacts a child’s learning, scenarios follow:
The first scenario depicts an over stimulated environment and an inappropriate
response by the teacher, while the second scenario displays an inviting, non-threatening
atmosphere accompanied by an encouraging invitation by the teacher.
young student walks into her first grade classroom nervous, excited and ready
to begin a new chapter in her academic schooling. As she walks into the
classroom she is overwhelmed by the neon colors placed with on the walls and
unusual seating arrangements. She doesn’t know where to sit and she can’t seem
to find her name tag. The teacher tells the students, “Good morning friends and
welcome to first grade. Before we get started, I want you to pick a spot where
you think you will work best. There are wobble seat for students who like to
move around, standing stools for students who like to stand while learning, and
floor mats for those who like to sit on the floor and learn”. The young first
grader is anxious and unable to find a seat that makes her feel comfortable. On
top of the strange seating, the walls are filled with colors, posters, and
writing she can’t seem to stop looking at and it’s distracting her from
listening to her teacher. Her teacher gives her a stern look and asks her, “Why
haven’t you found spot yet? I have given you directions and you need to follow
them please”. The young girl becomes teary eyed because of the over whelmed
feeling of being trapped in a cluttered classroom and doesn’t know how to
respond to her teacher’s remark.
in fourth grade, a young boy is settling into his fourth grade classroom. He
notices that the teacher has seating that is not the same as his third grade
class. There are standing tables, tables with bouncy yoga balls and a table
near the floor with patted mats. He also notices that the walls are nearly
empty with minimal amount of color, a few posters around the room, but each
wall is labeled for subject areas they will be learning. The classroom feels
larger than any classroom he has ever been in. The teacher tells the students,
“Before you sit down, you will pick a card out of my bucket, and this card will
tell you where to sit. Once you have found your seat, I will hand you your name
tag and this will be your seat for the week. Each week you will move seats to
figure out which seating arrangement you like best in which to learn.” The
students take their seats and the teacher tells the students why the walls are
labeled. She tells the students, “The walls are labeled by subjects because
everything you do, during the course of time you are with me, will be put up on
the walls. When we move to another chapter or unit, the new information will be
put up for you to look at”. The student is already feeling confident about
fourth grade and is ready to take on the journey to come.