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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Classroom Design and Management

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.


  1. Hi Emmy,
    After reading your post I have also found very similar things in my 5th grade class room at Scoil Bhride. Although my kids are older, I student taught in a 5th grade classroom in newton and my CT had a section of the room designed for independent reading and classroom meetings that seemed to be very beneficial for the students. In my classroom in Galway, although the room is extremely decorated with student work and student friendly bulletin boards, there is no rug or area for the kids to get away from their desks and come together. i think it would be beneficial for them, because they definitely get antsy and get up and walk around a lot throughout the day. My CT gives all of the students plenty of time during the day for independent work and independent reading, and I think a rug would probably encourage more students to actually grab a book and go read. My teacher also seems very similar to yours in that she has created a very safe and successful learning environment for her class, and she manages them with discipline in a way that the students respect her and behave well for her or any teacher in charge of the class. She always remains very calm, which the students seem to really respond to. I wonder if all of the teachers throughout the school use similar management tactics of not. It's so interesting how similar a 2nd and 5th grade class can be!


  2. I definitely agree with both of you. My class is senior infants, age 4 or 5, and although my teacher does her best to get them out of their seats, there is no rug or designated area for this. My CT has them stand at their seats for activities that involve movement, and this seems pretty effective. However, it would be great for them to come together and sit in a circle comfortably. When she has them on the floor, as you can see in my post about lesson planning, they sit on these little rug squares. This creates a distraction for them to play with, and it takes time for them to get their rugs and get settled. Therefore, my CT does this as sparingly as possible. I think it would be great if they had a rug and structured some of their lessons around the rug, so there would be some change and excitement for them throughout the day.

    My teacher similarly has created a safe, community, feel in her classroom. I have observed that her management style is quiet and never stern. Once in a while, she will be firm or raise her voice a bit, but for the most part, she is calm and smiling. The students seem to respond to this well. She also needs to do this because sometimes when the students have negative consequences, such as losing a point for their table, they start to cry at their seats. I have been very impressed with how my teacher handles these situations. She never rescinds their punishment, but she will hold their hand and explain to them why they lost a point. My CT also is very respectful towards them. I have been impressed with the way she listens to their silly stories from home and responds with stories about her own son, then switches easily to work mode. It is very interesting reading the similarities between the teachers at this school, and makes me wonder if this is indicative of all the teachers at Scoil Bhride.


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