Teaching Tuesday: Preparing the Learning Environment for Routines

By Dr. Tracy Vasquez, Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick, and Emily Farkas, faculty

female teacher teaching young students in classroom learning environment

As teachers and students prepare for the fall semester to resume their normal teaching and learning, there may be some hesitation to resume their previous routines in their classrooms. What can you do to ensure a sense of safety in the learning environment? Let us look at some strategies that you can implement to ensure a sense of safety and normalcy for students and their families.

Agenda or a Visual Schedule

Having an agenda or visual schedule allows the students to be informed and prepared for the day’s learning experiences. This will allow the students to look forward to the day’s activities and motivate them for learning. For example, you could schedule an engaging science experiment in the afternoon and link it to an English language arts standard in the morning.

Learning Targets

In addition to posting an agenda or schedule of events, you can prepare the students for the specific content and skills that they will be learning for each lesson. For example, in mathematics, you could post a student-friendly learning target or objective: We will be able to multiply and divide four digits by two digits. For English language arts: We will be able to compose a two-stanza poem using alliteration. Having the students chorally read these objectives will communicate clear expectations for the lesson. It will hold students accountable for their own learning.

Grouping Tasks and Staggering Deadlines

To avoid students becoming overwhelmed with the deliverable for the lesson, you can hold informal conferences with your students. At those individual or small group sessions, you can go over the expectations and together create strategies to organize their time and actions to meet deadlines. For example, you can pair complimentary activities into smaller and manageable sections. To further make students accountable for their own learning and time management, you can lead them in small group discussions where they can create graphic organizers or other tools to self-manage.

Consider components of the learning environment you will prepare for the start of the school year. Providing a sense of safety and normalcy for the students will prevent the feeling of anxiety by students and their families. You can ensure that they continue to feel safe and supported by communicating your class routines and schedules with the students’ families. Be consistent in your expectations and model what families can do in their homes to establish a safe and normal learning environment at home.

At Grand Canyon University’s College of Education, our teaching and learning cycle provides a structure for reflection for teacher and principal candidates. It provides guidance based on research regarding the professional teaching and learning process and is grounded in our rich Christian heritage. Just as the teacher and principal candidates personally move through the practices of learning, leading and serving, they also progress through the teaching and learning cycle. By doing so, they are better able to have a systematic positive impact on classroom instruction and student learning. Learn more about earning your education degree from GCU and return each week for a new Teaching Tuesday post.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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