In comparison to several other schools that I have worked with I have found the classrooms at Soil Bhride to be of comparable size. The classrooms are all fairly large with a good amount of walking room between tables. All of the classrooms that I have been in, the students sit at table groupings, rather than having their own individual desk. One thing about the classroom setup that differs greatly from most younger elementary classrooms I have been to in the States is the lack of rug space, or floor space for teaching. From my experiences I have noticed that many classrooms in America, especially the younger elementary grades, have a carpet area where students often sit in a circle for reading or during mini lesson instruction. My clssroom at Scoil Bhride does not have this, however. Prior to being in this classroom I had always really liked this typical setup and found it a good way to get kids to move around. However, after watching many lessons without this added element my feelings towards this design have weakened. I think there are benefits to both models and from what I have seen in the classroom, it seems to work well not having this extra space because no time is lost to transitioning students from their seats to the rug and redirecting attention as they make such transitions. My CT takes advantage of the setup of the classroom with the group tables, and often will have students work together with partners or groups at their tables. My CT also has taken advantage of the great amount of wall space and has created a bright and welcoming classroom environment. The walls are decorated with many student projects and helpful resources for the students to refer to. In addition a SMARTboard covers one wall and a whiteboard covers another.
So far I have been very impressed with the classroom management techniques that my CT uses. The children in my classroom are very well behaved. Initially I thought this might be attributed to the school as a whole, but the more I have been involved at the school I have noticed that not all the students seem to be as well behaved. In my time at Scoil Bhride volunteering at the homework club I have noticed, and heard from my peers that also participate in the homework club, that there have been a good deal of behavior problems. Initially I was very surprised to hear this as I thought the students we very well behaved. However, after more time at the school I noticed that much of this good behavior must have been because of the classroom management techniques and respectful community environment my CT has created in the classroom. She never really raises her voice, because she rarely is given a need to. She addresses behavior issues with the individuals or the class in a very calm way, explaining to them why their behavior is not acceptable, or how they are not meeting the expectations. This is all done in a very respectful manner and the students therefore receive this discipline respectfully and take responsibility for their actions, changing their behavior to meet the expectations she has made clear. I have seen this style of classroom management to be very successful and I think it is a valuable style for me to observe, given that I am a much more soft spoken person, and often use a similar approach when working with students in the classroom.