Creating Positive Learning Environments (working copy)

 

Welcome to Creating Positive Learning Environments (copy)

Introduction and Purpose

What is Social and Emotional Development in VPK age children?

Social and Emotional Development is the process of developing the social and emotional skills needed to control one’s emotions and interact with other children, adults, and the environment. When a VPK student has these skills they have the:

  • Confidence and competence needed to engage with others and classroom activities
  • Ability to develop good relationships with peers and adults/make friends/get along with others
  • Ability to persist at tasks
  • Ability to follow directions
  • Ability to identify, understand, and communicate own feelings/emotions
  • Ability to constructively manage their strong emotions
  • Ability to develop empathy  

Why Social and Emotional Development in Classrooms Matters

One of the main goals of early schooling is to teach children social and emotional competence, the set skills and behaviors that allow children to interact successfully with others in a way accepted by society. Social and emotional competence has six elements:

  • Social values, such as caring, honesty, and responsibility
  • Interpersonal skills, such as maintaining relationships, communicating feelings, and agreeing to compromises
  • Cultural competence, such as interactions with those of different backgrounds, the recognition of unfair treatment, and actions
  • Positive self-identity, including sense of worth and sense of purpose
  • Planning, organizational, and decision-making skills, such as listening, following directions, and solving problems
  • Self-regulation, including reflecting on feelings, controlling impulses, and resisting peer pressure

All these skills are required for school readiness and have the highest correlation to school success over any single academic skill.

Promotion and Prevention: The Key to Balance

         

Description and Organization of Courses

Overview of Promotional and Preventative Practices – Edited Video Clip

 

The Creating Positive Learning Environments Course is organized into five sections: Welcome; Importance of Responsive and Reciprocal Learning Environments; Creating Safe, Secure, and Supportive VPK Environments; Developing Classroom Structures that Promote Prosocial Behaviors; Summary and Charge, and Resources. The three instructional topics include:

  • Responsive and Reciprocal Caregiving/Instruction which incorporates activities that utilize every opportunity during the school day to enhance relationship and interaction skills.
  • Creating Safe, Secure, and Supportive VPK Environments incorporates strategic review and planning of the classroom environment that promotes children’s use of prosocial skills and reduces potential challenging behaviors.
  • Developing Classroom Structures that Promote Prosocial Behaviors examines the preexisting classroom expectations, rules, and rituals to reinforce the prosocial behaviors you would like to see children access readily.

All three prevention strategy topics are equally effective for increasing positive and prosocial interaction in young children as well as, reducing the likelihood of challenging behaviors.

Course Goal:

At the conclusion of this course, participants will be able to apply developmentally appropriate strategies to create positive learning environments and reduce the likelihood of challenging behaviors in the VPK classroom.

Course Learning Objectives:

Upon course completion participants will be able to:

  • Respond effectively and reciprocally to children to promote learning and engagement
  • Create safe, secure, and supportive environments using principles of a well-designed physical environment and a  well prepared VPK classroom settings that promotes learning and engagement
  •  Identify and use the key strategies of  well managed classrooms to promote learning

Importance of Responsive and Reciprocal Caregiving and Instruction (copy)

Overview of Responsive and Reciprocal Practices in the VPK Classroom

Responsive and reciprocal relationships are fostered through authentic interactions. These interactions are fostered by:

  • Creating meaningful and authentic relationships between teacher, child, and peers: Intimate and reciprocal relationships (ones in which each partners values each individuals unique gifts and talents) are at the foundation of healthy development for both children and adults.
  • Promoting Positive Classroom Climate: Reflects the overall emotional tone of the classroom and the connection between teachers and students. Classroom climate considers the warmth and respect displayed in teachers’ and students’ interactions with one another, as well as the degree to which they display enjoyment and enthusiasm during learning activities.
  • Module Goal: Participants will be able to respond effectively and reciprocally to children to promote learning and engagement
  • Module Learning Objectives:
    • At the end of this module participants will be able to:
      • Describe the importance of building relationships with their classroom VPK children
      • Identify strategies that can be used to build positive relationships within their daily learning activities

What are Reciprocal and Responsive Classrooms and their Practices?

There are two key elements in creating these types of classrooms. They are

  • Creating meaningful relationships between teacher, child, and peers

Audio: There are many benefits to building relationships with children. They include helping each child feel accepted in the group, assisting children in learning to communicate and get along with others, as well as encourage feelings of empathy and mutual respect among children and adults. When you, as the teacher, make an intentional effort to build positive relationships with children, your potential influence in children’s behavior grows significantly. Additionally, the children you teach develop positive self-concepts, confidence, and a sense of safety that help reduce the likelihood of challenging behavior. This means more learning can occur.

  • Promoting Positive Classroom Climate

Audio: When there is a positive classroom climate it reflects the overall emotional tone of the classroom and the connection between teachers and students as positive, inviting, and kind. This is easily assessed when you consider the warmth and respect displayed in teachers’ and students’ interactions with one another as well as the degree to which they display enjoyment and enthusiasm during learning activities. An environment like this provides a supportive environment in which children can learn and practice appropriate and acceptable behaviors as individuals and as a group. Leading to gains in cognitive, as well as social growth. 

What are the benefits of a Responsive and Reciprocal Classroom?

Effective, engaging interactions and environments are at the foundation of development and learning for all children, especially prekindergarten age children. There is significant evidence-based research that supports the reciprocal and responsive classroom approach

  • Increases outcomes for children
  • Improves academic tasking
  • Increases engagement
  • Decreases incidence of Challenging Behaviors 

How to be Responsive and Reciprocal in Our Practice with Prekindergarten/VPK Children: The Strategies


There are two major elements that drive our strategy choices in developing responsive and reciprocal classrooms. They are Teacher Sensitivity and Regard for Children. Let’s review what these terms mean and then put them in context with the use of evidence-based teaching strategies.

Teacher Sensitivity 

Audio: Encompasses teachers' responsiveness to children’s needs. It includes an awareness of students’ level of academic and emotional functioning so that they can, in partnership, plan learning and promote interactions. The highly sensitive teacher helps students see adults as a resource and creates an environment in which students feel safe and free to explore and learn

Regard for Student Perspective

 

Audio: This is the degree to which the teachers’ interactions with students and classroom activities place an emphasis on students’ interests, motivations, and points of view, rather than being very teacher-driven. This may be demonstrated by teachers’ flexibility within activities and respect for students’ autonomy to participate in and initiate activities.

Meaningful Connections are at the heart of what we do as teachers. We want to children and families to feel connected to our classrooms. We want them to view us a resource and a place to come to celebrate the accomplishments in their lives.  To do this you simply need to be open and genuine with both the children and the families with which they live and grow. Here are some specific and varied way to accomplish this in the context of your daily work with children and their families.

  • Pay attention to each individual child and their families.
  • Be joyful, smile, and laugh with children and their families.
  • Show respect for children’s and their families cultural, linguistic, and religious beliefs.
  • Listen to children and adults when they speak to you, and respond appropriately to their questions.
  • Know what interests each child and talk to the child about that interest.
  • Learn and remember personal information about children (e.g., best friend’s name, pet’s name, type of pets, sibling, activities they do outside of school), and use this information in your conversations with them.
  • Spend time with children doing what they love to do.

When you do these things, you develop deep meaningful relationships with people. Additionally, you are better able to positively influence their lives. Every time you do something to build a connection with a family you are making a deposit so that the next interaction is richer and more rewarding.

Watch the video provided below, look for the techniques this teacher uses to build a relationship with the child.

 

 

Adult Child Interactions are essential elements in classrooms. Interactions with children should be reciprocal, meaning both people are engaged. They are listening to one another. They genuinely care about what the other is saying. They are connected by the conversation. To create these types of interactions teachers must be sensitive and responsive to children’s cues, interests, actions and communications, develop “Withitness” – Presence in the moment, remaining constant and consistent, and speak positively. In short, you should CONVEY:

 

Here you will see demonstrated the three steps in creating Child-Oriented Adult Interactions:

  1. Participate in children’s play
  2. Encourage children to describe their efforts, ideas and products
  3. Acknowledge children’s work and ideas

 

Knowing if you have created a Reciprocal and Responsive Environment

“Every child needs one person who is crazy about him.”

In order to do this, you as the teacher, must have many and varied strategies to assist you in creating meaningful relationships between teacher, child, and peers and that promote positive classroom climates. Remember these strategies included building connections with children and families and meaningful adult-child interactions.

If you have created a reciprocal and responsive VPK classroom, the following will be present:

  • Children and teachers will have and continue to build trusting relationships
  • Teachers will know more about what children know and need to learn
  • Child will feel valued and confident
  • Teachers will be better able to prepare academic tasking that is relevant to the learner
  • Challenging behaviors will be significantly decreased
  • When challenging behaviors occur, children will trust that the teacher can assist them in resolving their concern

Quiz: Importance of Responsive and Reciprocal Relationship

  1. Responsive and Reciprocal Classrooms describes
    •  An approach that is founded on the idea that the child and the teacher are equal partners in the process of learning.
    • The communication style of urban early care and education settings
    • A theoretical framework that drives assessment decision making in the classroom
    • The philosophy of remaining business oriented when interacting with children and families
  2. Learning occurs through
    • Rote memorization
    • Directed tasks
    • Independent tasks with no teacher or child disruptions
    • Social interaction
  3. When building positive relationships with children, your potential influence on children’s behavior
    • Is limited because they have a foundation of trust with you as the teacher
    • Grows significantly because they have a foundation of trust with you as the teacher
    • Is limited because they do not have a foundation of trust with you as the teacher
    • Grows significantly because they do not have a foundation of trust with you as the teacher
  4. Positive classroom climate
    • Is a statement made when the teacher is doing a good job with her day to day tasks
    • reflects the overall emotional tone of the classroom and the connection between teachers and students
    • describes the temperature of a classroom
    • None of the above
  5. Reciprocal and responsive classroom approach
    • Increases outcomes for children
    • Improves academic tasking and engagement
    • Decreases incidence of Challenging Behaviors
    • All of the above
    • None of the above

6. Which one of the statements is untrue when asked this question, what are some ways to create meaningful connections?

  • Allow children to enter your room, put away their belongings and go to centers without checking in with you
  • Pay attention to each individual child and their families.
  • Show respect for children’s and their families cultural, linguistic, and religious beliefs.
  • Listen to children and adults when they speak to you, and respond appropriately to their questions.
  • Know what interests each child and talk to the child about that interest.

 

Creating Safe, Secure, and Supportive VPK Environments (copy)

Overview of Safe, Secure, and Supportive VPK Environments

 

 

To do this you need a well-designed and prepared environments that is ready for children to learn and engage with both teacher, peers, and the learning material. To do this we will focus on:

  • Organized and Designed Spaces
  • Consistent Schedules with Established Rituals and Routines
  • Developmentally Appropriate Play and Learning activities

Module Goal: Participants will be able to create safe, secure, and supportive environments using principles of a well-designed physical environment and a  well prepared VPK classroom settings that promotes learning and engagement  
  • Module Learning Objectives:
    • At the end of this module participants will be able to:
      • Identify strategies that can be used to design environments that promote child interaction and success
      • Structure developmentally appropriate schedules and routines
      • Lessen the impact of transitions and increase student learning time
      • Promote children’s engagement during learning activities

Well Designed Physical Environments

Well-designed environments make classroom life easier for teachers and children. Well-designed environments do two specific things: 1) promote engagement and 2) reduce the likelihood that challenging behavior will occur. They do this by building a calm and supportive environment in which children and the teacher can navigate the space with ease. It promotes interaction by building spaces and materials that bring peers, children and teachers together for rich conversation. It has provides for both success and challenge to assure that children receive support children where they are developmentally as they learn the VPK content. 

What are the Components Well Designed Physical Environments

What are the Benefits of Well Designed Physical Environments?

When teachers take a proactive role in reviewing their classroom design for potential challenges and then take appropriate action, they reduce the likelihood challenging behaviors or incidences from occurring. This quote accurately sums up this approach.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” 

This means that preventative care prevents the likelihood the problem will ever occur. By planning a classroom design that is organized and focused on utilization of space in thoughtful ways teachers will ultimately promote children’s engagement with learning, interaction with all children and adults, and avoid challenging situations that can distract from the learning.

How to Create Well Designed Physical Environments: The Strategies

When considering creating a well-designed physical environment for your VPK classroom, you must consider three essential elements:

  • minimizing large open spaces in which children can run, overpower, or become distracted and disengaged,
  • minimizing both visual and physical obstacles, and
  • considering environmental arrangement as it applies to children with limitations that are either physical or sensory.

Now we will review each of these elements in detail, identifying purpose of considering each of these elements and strategies for addressing them in easy ways.

Minimizing large open spaces: 

Consider the space in the below image . Notice how the space is visually organized for specific tasks, where children can work in small groups, pairs, or alone. Additionally, all materials have a location and children can freely move without being overwhelmed by too much space.

Audio: The obvious reason for doing this is to limit the space in which children can run, overpower, or become distracted and disengaged. The other reason is by creating more intimate, welcoming spaces children are natural attracted to enter, stay in those space, and become engaged. Children are products of their environment. If the classroom, with which they spend the majority of their day is chaotic, poorly organized, children will be unsure where to go and how to behave. In contrast, if a child is surrounded by calm organized space that allows for them to become focused in their work, then that child is more likely to feel safe and secure. When children are safe, secure, and comfortable they are better able to interact and react appropriately with their classroom, peers, and teachers.

 

Minimizing both visual and physical obstacles:

Looking at this classroom we notice that there are no visual or physical obstructions to keep children or adults from seeing or accessing the materials.

 

Audio:  The best way to assure a person doesn’t use something is if they can’t see it or get to it easily. This holds true in VPK classroom design. Since our classrooms are filled with learning opportunities and material for children to use, it is critical that we give them access to these items. Therefore, there are two things to consider, how are the children and the adults able to 1) see the materials and each other, and 2) get to the people and materials they need.

Audio: Seeing & Accessing – Children and adults need to be able to see one another. This assures that the teacher is able to monitor children’s needs in the classroom. Further, when children are able to see one another and active adults they are better able to monitor their own behavior and the expectations if peers and adults. By building a classroom that doesn’t limit visual of physical access to the aspects of the room or the materials, children will be less apprehensive to enter groups situations or use materials offered. The ability to see the aspects of the classroom also helps the teacher know when materials need to be replenished, paired down, or when instructions need to be posted to assure children know what to do in specific spaces. The ability to see the materials and all aspects of the room helps a teacher know how to use the space and maintain it so children continue be engaged and learning.

 

Build environmental arrangements that support all children:

When considering how to build a classroom that promotes prosocial behavior and limits challenging behavior you must consider your students and all their varying talents and abilities. Additionally, you want to build a classroom that supports their varying needs as well. 

Audio: This includes making a room design that accommodates children who may have limitation or special needs, either physically or sensorial. This may sound overwhelming but there are small things you can do to meet all the varying needs of students.

You have already heard of one technique, making sure there are no visual barriers for children or the teacher. This technique proves very beneficial when assisting children with auditory or vocal impairment. They are able to see you and you are able to see them; thus promoting the opportunity to communicate using gesture and non-verbal communication methods.

Additionally, earlier the removal of physical barriers was discussed. This assists directly with children who may have limited mobility issues or require assistive devices.  Having wide open entries to centers, providing seating where students may need to sit to work with manipulatives, and making sure materials are provided for varying abilities in containers that can be easily accessed is all part of building an environment that supports all children.  

Quick Look: Take a look at this room and notice that the areas are well sectioned off. Additionally, noisy areas are next to other active and louder spaces. Further, the teacher does a remarkable job helping the spaces transition from much physical activity to less active centers. To do this teacher placed dramatic play and blocks far from the quiet area. Moreover, the teacher placed the manipulative center in the middle to absorb large distractions and larger gross motor play.  

Taking a Closer Look: Summarizing the Large Ideas

 

Examining an Environment

Take a look at this floor plan below. Take a moment and jot down the ways:

  1. It clearly identifies the space and the purpose for the space, avoiding large open undefined spaces
  2. It promotes engagement with peers, adults, and content by avoiding physical or visual boundaries
  3. It meets the needs of all children through thoughtful design

Knowing if You have Created a Well Designed Physical Environment

To assure you have created an environment that is well designed you will want to have the following pieces evidenced in your design

  1. Have clear boundaries so that children know where the center begins/ends, and so children are not crowded together.
  2. Make sure that all children are visible to adults and that adults are visible to children.
  3. When learning centers are closed for some reason, indicate that the centers are closed by using visual prompts such as sheets or blankets, circles with a slash through them, etc.
  4. Have enough centers for the number of children in your care and enough materials within the centers so that children are engaged and not continually arguing over materials.
  5. Consider the size of centers and the location of centers. For example, it is best to avoid having a center that is likely to have a high level of activity in it (e.g., block center, dramatic play) located close to a center where the teacher wants quieter activities (e.g., listening centers, computer, etc.) to occur.
  6. Use developmentally appropriate and creative ways to limit the number of children in centers if this is necessary (e.g., laminated cards containing children’s names that can be moved into pockets at the center as opposed to a sign saying “2 children only”).
  7. Organize materials and keep them in appropriate places, taking into consideration children’s development of independence skills.
  8. Have centers organized and ready to go when children arrive.

Well Prepared Settings for Learning : Scheduling, Routines, Transitions, and Learning Activities

As a professional and adult we know how important our daily routine is to having a good day and getting done the necessary tasks to enjoy something fun. Just think about your morning routine. What happens if it is thrown off by a late clock, no coffee in the house, or a dog that ran away? These small annoyances can have a huge impact on your schedule, the transition between home and work, or your ability to concentrate and stay engaged at work. Children are very much the same way. They benefit from logical and predictable schedules, smooth transitions, and activities that keep them focused and engaged. Like you, when a child’s routine is disrupted they can find it difficult to engage appropriately. This means they may exhibit more challenging behavior making everyone’s day more difficult.

Today we will discuss ways to improve the schedule, routines, and activities in your classroom to help children maintain expected levels of engagement and to make your classroom life easier and more enjoyable.

What are the Basic Components of Well Prepared Settings

There are four major components to well-prepared classrooms. They include

  • logical scheduling,
  • predictable routines,
  • smooth transitions, and
  • engaging activities.

Now, we will discuss these overarching ideas to prepare for a discussion of strategies

Schedules are a basic time-management tool, that consists of a list of times or time frames at which possible tasks, events, or actions are intended to take place. Basically, it is a sequence of events in the chronological order in which such actions are intended to take place. The process of creating a schedule - deciding how to order these tasks and how to commit resources between the varieties of possible tasks - is called scheduling.

Schedules should be designed to promote child engagement. As we have talked about earlier, when children are engaged with a material, a peer, or an adult, they are less likely to be engaged in challenging behavior. Therefore the scheduling process should be taken very seriously.

Transitions are the processes or periods of changing from one state or condition to another. This sounds quite daunting, but for VPK teachers we know this a regular and consistent part of our day. The key is to make these as few, seamless, and routine as possible to limit disruption. By minimizing the number of transitions and preparing for them through instruction and practice teachers will find that these moments are less of draw on their time and more of an opportunity to engage with their classroom students.

 

 

 

Learning Activities

Creating meaningful and engaging learning activities for young children is a VPK teacher’s greatest and most important challenge. Learning centers need to be meaningful, engaging, and interesting to children. This is important for two essential reasons. When children are offered meaningful, engaging, and interesting materials, 1) children will persist at learning tasks and meet greater academic outcomes, and 2) they will engage in far less off tack behavior resulting in fewer challenging behaviors and classroom disruptions. 

What are the Benefits of having Well Prepared Settings?

Schedules, routines, transitions, and engaging activities can be the key to a calm, collected classroom. They provide predictability about expected behaviors and opportunities

How to Create Well Prepared Settings: The Strategies

Schedules and Routines

One significant strategy that keeps children engaged is balancing the activities so there is a mix of small group and large group activities and a mix of teacher-directed and child-directed activities.

Here is an example of how to prepare a balanced schedule for the VPK classroom. Your schedule, of course, will vary depending on the programmatic demands for your early learning program. However, this provides some concrete examples that can be used when you evaluate your own schedule.

Audio: Here is an example of how to prepare a balanced schedule for the VPK classroom. Your schedule, of course, will vary depending on the programmatic demands for your early learning program. However, this provides some concrete examples that can be used when you evaluate your own schedule.

Once your schedule is established, teaching children the routine is such a simple but often missed step. You can’t expect children to follow the routine if you don’t teach it to them. Schedules and routines provide some security and a sense of what comes next; children are able to anticipate what will happen, and thus feel more secure. This is especially important for children whose primary language differs from that spoken in the classroom.

Here are some strategies for teaching the schedule and making them classroom routines.

  1. Teach it during circle using visual cues that all children understand. The expectations for the activity on the schedule. 

2.  Post your schedule visually, and refer to it frequently throughout the day so children learn what will happen next.

 

3. Provide individual instruction to children who need more assistance, and use individualized picture cues, like these shown below for arrival to support children's departure from their parents.

4. Be consistent with your schedule and routines. Children will be more likely to learn to follow a schedule if it is implemented consistently and referenced throughout the day.

5. When changes are necessary, prepare children for those changes. You can prepare children by making announcements at opening circle, using visual prompts on a posted schedule indicating a change (e.g., a stop sign on top of an activity that is not going to happen as planned), and reminding children about the changes as often as possible

Transitions

Here are some simple supports and effective strategies that can be implemented with ease to assist young children and their teachers with transitions in the classroom.

Minimize the number of transitions that children have during the day. You can do this by evaluating your schedule and grouping activities by location and the required preparation times. Additionally, put these principles to use

  1. Minimize those transitions during which every child has to do the same thing at the same time (Does every child have to go to the bathroom at the same time? Could snack be part of center time?). An example is pulling small groups during center time eliminates the need for a group transition.
  2. Structure the transitions so that children have something to do while they are waiting (e.g., finger plays, songs, guessing games). An example is allowing children to listen to a story, as other children wash their hands in preparation for lunch. This builds time on task and elimainates wasted time waiting for all children to finish
  3. Provide some children with chores, and give children helping roles during transitions (e.g., handing out the paper towels, holding the door, helping a friend). An example for avoiding group bathroom times. Instead use students to notify other students when it is their turn to use the restroom before rest.

 

Plan transitions so that there is a minimal amount of time spent in transitions and that children are highly engaged during the transition. Here is an example of a teacher who keeps the children engaged by moving through the transition quickly while maintaining child engagement.

Give children a warning before a transition occurs. Here is a clear example of using cue cards to assist children with focusing on the expectations of the transition.

Teach children about the expectations for transitions. This instruction can occur during a group time and should be reinforced throughout the day.

By using these four straightforward strategies you will be able to reduce the amount of transition time and increase appropriate behavior during transitions. This will lead to a well prepared classroom ready for learning. 

Learning Activities

 

Choosing the right learning materials is based on four general principles that focus on material use, type, and change.

  • Materials within centers need to be meaningful and relevant to children’s needs, interests, and lives (e.g., within the dramatic play area, materials that are culturally appropriate should be available; the pictures on puzzles and in the classroom library should reflect the diversity within your community, etc.). There should be culturally meaningful activities and materials (e.g., within the typical water table, you can alternate materials that have a similar consistency such as beans, rice, pasta, and potatoes). Also, consider using labels in multiple languages around the classroom

  • Centers need to be highly engaging and interesting to children. Build on children’s interests by including materials and activities that children enjoy or express an interest in. If children all tend to stay in one or two centers that would suggest that the other centers are not engaging or interesting to children.

  • Provide a variety of materials in each center. For example, related books can be put in every center (e.g., books on animals can be placed in the reading center; magazines can be placed in the dramatic play area that is designed as a veterinarian’s office; a book about the post office can be placed in the writing center). Writing utensils and paper also can be in a variety of centers (e.g., in the dramatic play area, the writing center, or near the computers). Be creative.

  • Change the materials or themes in centers on a regular basis. The post office set up in the dramatic play area might be interesting and engaging at the beginning of the year but will be old and uninteresting if it is still there in the spring. Listen to what children are talking about. Create centers that build on their interests. Rotate materials within a center so that the same materials are not out all year. Let children help you choose the materials.

Watch this video to review your understanding of the role of choosing relevant content activities.

Finding right types and kinds of learning materials is based on some simple principles

  1. What are my students interested in?
  2. What am I covering in the curriculum?
  3. With which tasks/activities do my students struggle? With which tasks/activities do my students exceed?

Then the formula becomes easy.

  • You want to choose interesting materials (things they like) +
  • Activities they want and need to know (the curriculum) +
  • Tasks that will challenge them (things that are hard but doable) –
  • Tasks that will make them feel defeated (things that are too hard) =

Awesome Learning Activities

Activity: Test your knowledge about Well Prepared Settings for Learning

Examining the Prepared Setting:

Jot down your thoughts on the following:

You are a VPK teacher who is having trouble transitioning from circle to center time. What techniques will you use improve this transition so you have execute your schedule as a calm collected routine?

(The answer in the hoover pop will say…Creating a story about how we transition from circle to centers, rehearse/model the story with cue cards, and then practice it until it is a refined routine )

Knowing if you have Created a Well Prepared Setting for Learning

Creating a well prepared setting takes time and preparation but the reward is immense. If you have a well prepared setting, you have created a classroom that has:

  1. logical scheduling – meaning a balance of active and less active times, as well as provided for required programmatic elements
  2. predictable routines – meaning you stick to your schedule and students know what is coming next and the expectations for the next activity
  3. smooth transitions – you have practiced with your children the types of transitions you will have and how to proceed as a class or individual
  4. Engaging activities – you have evaluated your children’s interest, the content the curriculum you will cover, and the activities that will challenge but also allow your children to succeed. Further, you have taken this knowledge and incorporated these into the learning centers in your classroom. 

Quiz: Safe, Secure, and Supportive VPK Environments

  1. Well-designed environments make classroom life easier for teachers and children. Well-designed environments do two specific things:
    1. promote engagement
    2. reduce the likelihood that challenging behavior will occur
    3. spread joy and happiness
    4. A and B
    5. B and C
  2. What does “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” mean with relation to classroom design?
    1. Avoid future problems by taking care of potential problems before they become a problem
    2. Monitor your surroundings and react in advance of a situation
    3. Plan in advance
    4. All of the above
  3. When considering creating a well-designed physical environment for your VPK classroom, you must consider the most essential elements:
    1. How much time and money you have
    2. Minimizing large open spaces in which children can run, overpower, or become distracted and disengaged
    3. How aesthetically pleasing the space is to parents
    4. What is trending with young children at the current time
  4. Schedules are
    1. Rigorous, controlled, and inflexible
    2. For teachers
    3. Basic time-management tools, that consists of a list of times or time frames at which possible tasks, events, or actions are intended to take place.
    4. All of the above
  5. Predictable Routines
    1. Encourage participation
    2. Upset children
    3. Usually cause challenging behaviors
    4. Are only for children who can read
  6. Choosing the right learning materials is based on
    1. material use, interest, type, and change
    2. what children want
    3. what was recommended in your latest training
    4.  space, durability, and interest

Developing Classroom Structures that Promote Prosocial Behaviors (copy)

Overview of Classroom Structures that Promote Prosocial Behaviors

Module Goal: Participants will be able to identify and use the key strategies of  well managed classrooms to promote learning

Module Learning Objectives:

  • At the end of this module participants will be able to:
    • Identify appropriate behavioral expectations for VPK age children
    • Develop rules and rituals that promote child interaction and success
    • Identify implementation strategies that help children learn rules and rituals 

What are the Basic Components of Well Managed Classrooms?

 


Consistent and Realistic Expectations for VPK age children

An expectation is a feeling or belief about how successful, good, etc., someone or something will be at a task. This simply applied in the VPK classroom means, that we as teachers, will have beliefs and feelings about how our successful classroom will work, how children will work within this successful classroom, and how we will achieve this as a teacher. The trick to doing this well is in having realistic and informed perspectives for what children can and should be doing in a prekindergarten classroom. 

Rules that are Relevant, Clear, and Understood

It is important to have well developed rules that are meaningful and important to young children. Rules help for classrooms to run smoothly by building boundaries of conduct in which children and teachers will interact. 

What are the Benefits of having a Well Managed Classroom?

When children know the expectations for how to work and engage with others in the classroom, they are better able to interact in ways that predict success and self-regulation. That means children are able to make friends, learn alongside the teacher and their peers, work in groups or alone, ask for helps and seek solutions to problems before they become distracting to themselves and others. In short, when children are part of a well-managed classroom they know the expectations and are able to meet them because they have been taught the skills necessary to react and interact as expected. The benefit is children meet success and teachers meet less distress. 

How to Create a Classroom Structure that Lead to a Well Managed Classroom: The Strategies

Consistent and Realistic Expectations for VPK age children

Anyone who has spent time with four and five-year-old children understands that they have limited attention spans. Typically, they have the most difficulty with activities that require sitting and listening for prolonged periods of time. They can sit and listen to a story or watch a science demonstration that precedes a hands-on activity for about 10 to 15 minutes. Anything longer, and they are fidgeting, looking around the room, or talking to a friend. In order to keep on task and focused, four- and five-year-olds need to be actively engaged in their learning.

Watch this segment of a large group lesson. Notice how the teacher breaks up the content so that it matches the children’s developmental interest and abilities.

Things to remember when working with VPK age children:

1. VPK children need to be active

Audio: Four-and five-year-olds are filled with energy and need to be active and to have productive avenues to direct this energy. Keeping a steady and even pace to the activities in the classroom will help channel children’s energy in the appropriate direction. Too many activities that require prolonged periods of sitting and listening will result in the children losing interest. Also, there needs to be age-appropriate transitions for one activity to the next. Using a familiar song, jingle, or physical movement to indicate transition from one activity to the next can help reduce the confusion in the classroom.

2) Keep directions clear and simple

Audio: VPK age children can follow simple two-step commands with success. When a teacher asks her VPK class to clean up the center activity areas and line up to go outside. The children scurry because they are anxious to play on the playground. However, when children are given too many directions to follow, they will not be able to process all the information. Situations that request more than what a child can do will result in frustration and give the appearance that children are not following directions. This is especially true when children are transitioning from one activity to another, as following directions can be difficult with the added activity in the room.

 

Rules that are Relevant, Clear, and Understood:

Every teacher runs into situations in which children do not follow the rules. One of the most important parts of social education is teaching children that communities, such as the classroom, have rules that must be followed. This helps children develop self-discipline, so they will better follow these rules in the future. How do you plan to make these rules, communicate them to the students, and enforce them?

There are three important aspects to creating rules that are relevant and clear. First, you must create the rules. Next you need to practice the rules so they are easily recalled and applied when needed. Lastly, you need to have a response for when the rules are broken. These will be discussed in the depth below:

1) Creating Rules:

Audio: When developing classroom rules and expectations, make sure they are realistic and obtainable. For example, you may have a rule that whenever children use markers, they must replace the cap when they are done. For older children, you can ask that they replace the correct color cap, but for younger children, this may be difficult, so it may be an unrealistic rule. Every child should be able to follow all the rules without much trouble, and the rules should be similar to rules they encounter in other classrooms.

2) Teaching Rules: The Basics

Audio: Here are some general ways to assure you provide rules in a relevant way to young children in you VPK classroom:

  1.  Make sure you have the child’s attention before you give the direction. Many times, the child may not even hear the direction or realize the direction is being given to him. The teacher can begin a direction to the whole class by saying, “I need everyone to listen” or the teacher can begin a direction to an individual child by tapping him on the shoulder or saying his name.
  2. Minimize the number of directions given to children. Research shows that teachers give a very high number of directions to children, many of which teachers do not follow through with. It is important to give only directions that you want the child to comply with, give directions in a positive way that tells the child specifically what to do, and give the child time to respond before giving another direction. Also, it is important to follow through if the child does not follow the direction.
  3. Individualize the way directions are given. Some children may respond well to verbal direction, while others may need physical prompts or pictorial prompts to follow the direction
  4. Give clear directions. Tell the child exactly what you want her to do. Avoid directions that are vague such as “be careful” or “settle down.” These directions could be substituted with “hold on to the railing” or “sit quietly.”
  5. Give directions that are positive. Maintain a positive tone when you give directions. For instance, saying “Walk” instead of “Don’t run!”
  6. Give children the opportunity to respond to a direction. Avoid giving multiple directions at one time without giving the child a chance to respond and without acknowledging the child for responding
  7. Follow through with positive acknowledgment of children’s behavior. It is important that children understand when they are following directions.

3. Practicing the Rules and Expectations:

Audio: Always teach expectations to students before implementing consequences. If students break a rule they did not know about, it is unrealistic to punish them for it. One of the best ways to make sure students know the rules is to involve them in the process of defining these rules. Gather all the students together and ask them for ideas for classroom rules. Students may suggest rules that they have had in other classrooms, rules that they have at home, or rules that they make up themselves. At each suggestion, explain why it would or wouldn’t work, and write down the ones that work, with some modifications as necessary. If students don t think of a rule that you think is necessary, guide them toward it, or suggest it yourself if they can’t think of it. If a student objects to a rule, make sure to address that concern and explain why it is necessary.

The importance of practice:

Just because children can say the rules doesn't mean they will follow them. Far from it. Young children are just beginning to learn self-control, effective communication, responsibility, empathy, and the myriad other skills needed to live and learn peacefully with others. To be successful, they need lots of encouragement, support, and practice in applying the rules to a wide variety of classroom situations.

How to Practice: The Strategies

There are three key ways for VPK children to practice the rules are modeling and role-playing.

  1. Modeling the rules

If we expect students to walk when moving around the room, put away the equipment, show interest when a classmate is speaking, or settle into their seats quietly when they come to circle, we have to show clearly and directly what these actions look like.

Modeling is a good technique for doing this. It typically includes these steps:

  • The teacher names the expected behavior and connects it to a classroom rule.
  • The teacher (or a student) demonstrates the behavior.
  • The teacher asks students what actions and expressions they noticed.
  • The teacher asks for students (or additional students) to demonstrate.
  • The whole class practices the behavior.

 

Watch the Video to see how this techniques is used in a VPK Classroom

 

      2. Role-playing the rules

Role-playing is useful for practicing appropriate behavior in more complex social interactions where students must choose from a wide range of possible behaviors. Good topics for role-playing include sharing materials, including classmates in activities, and supporting someone who makes a mistake. Role-playing allows the teacher to acknowledge the complexity of these situations and give students practice in making responsible choices. Here are the steps:

  • The teacher brings up a situation, connecting it to classroom rules.
  • The teacher describes a scenario.
  • The teacher starts the action, freezes it before the negative behavior occurs, and asks for suggestions of positive behaviors.
  • The actors act out students' suggestions.
  • The class role-plays the same issue using a different scenario.

3. Be a "practice coach" for learning and for life

Will practicing the rules guarantee that students will live by them? No. There will still be times when children forget or choose not to follow the rules. But when teachers allow students time to think about and practice the rules, students pay more attention to the rules. It sounds simple, but it’s true. Practice is as important to social learning as it is to academic learning. As teachers, one of our greatest services is to be a "practice coach" for learning and for life.

Watch this video to see how to be a “practice coach”

 

Responding to Rule Breaking:

The first time students break a rule, make sure they understand not just that the rule exists, but why it is necessary. The punishment for breaking a rule should fit the rule as well as possible. If the student doesn’t put a cap back on a marker, for instance, you should certainly start with a reminder of the rule; take away marker privileges only after the student repeatedly ignores the rule. If a student is verbally or physically abusive toward another student, the consequences should be more severe. Always talk to the child about the purposes of the rule, and why it is wrong that the rule was broken.

Knowing if you have Created Classroom Structures that lead to Well Managed VPK Classrooms

A well-managed classroom focuses on teaching the expectations and rules of the classroom. The teacher does this in ways that assist children in making them apart of their daily actions and interactions with others. By making rules ritualistic, children will value the procedure as part of a living classroom.

Focusing on the strategies listed below will assure your classroom is well-managed, happy, and productive classroom:

  1. Examine the rules you have and determine if they are developmentally appropriate expectations
  2. Make sure your rules are stated briefly and positively
  3. Make sure the purpose is relevant and meaningful to children
  4. Teach the rules
  5. Practice the rules in a variety of ways

Activity: Test your knowledge about Classroom Structures that Promote Pro-Social Behaviors

  • What is one behaviors you would like to see increase in your VPk classroom setting?
  • What changes might you make to your expectations and rules that will increase the behavior you just identified?
  • What two reinforcing strategies will you use to promote this new rule implementation?

Classroom Structures that Promote Prosocial Behaviors

  1. To develop a well-managed classroom and maximizes children’s learning opportunities, you must
    1.  minimizes distractions
    2. Build large spaces that permit every child access at once
    3.  Create a classroom atmosphere of productive and high turn-over in child tasks
    4. Allow children to do anything they choose with no boundaries
  2. Developmentally appropriate behavior management means
    1. Treating children as adults with meaningful consequences
    2. Effective teaching methods that prevent and redirect misbehavior
    3. Presenting multiple behavioral expectations
    4. Maximizing the time you spend correcting behavioral issues
  3. To use developmentally appropriate behavior management you must focus on which of these most critical elements:
    1. Consistent  and Realistic Expectations for VPK age children
    2. Rules that are meaningful to the teacher
    3. Consequences that include time-out, dismissal from activities, and punishment
    4. All of the Above
  4. Teaching Rules the Basics:
    1. Make sure you have the child’s attention before you give the direction
    2. Maximize the number of directions
    3. Generalize the way directions are given
    4. Tell the child exactly what you don’t want him/her to do
  5. Learn and Practice the Rules by
    1. Explicit Instruction
    2. Practice
    3. Priming the Event
    4.  Reinforcement
    5. None of the Above

Final Thoughts (copy)

A Review of Creating Positive Learning Environments

 

As promised, this has taken you through the elements of creating a positive learning environment that every child and teacher deserves. The emphasis has focused on using prosocial promotional practices and easy, effective preventative practices that promote quality early learning environments. Additionally, the suggested practices we provided are simple methods that can be done every day in the context of your busy classroom with limited preparation.

 

As you may recall we have discussed three key areas on which to focus when building a positive classroom environment.  They were:

  • Respond effectively and reciprocally to children to promote learning and engagement
  • Create safe, secure, and supportive environments using principles of a well-designed physical environment and a  well prepared VPK classroom settings that promotes learning and engagement
  •  Identify and use the key strategies of  well managed classrooms to promote learning

Further, we examined each of these areas by looking at:

  • Ways to build interactions with children to creating meaningful relationships and build a positive classroom climate that reflects an emotional tone of acceptance and mutual respect.
  • Providing developmentally appropriate physical spaces with effective routines, transitions, and learning activities.
  • Developing appropriate behavior management that hinges on consistent expectations and rules that are relevant and clear. 

In Summary

Charge

With this new knowledge for which you have gained, reviewed and examined during this course, you are now ready to enjoy the journey of a applying what you have learned to create a cooperative and productive VPK Classroom.

Final Assessments

 

  1. Responsive and Reciprocal Classrooms describes
    •  An approach that is founded on the idea that the child and the teacher are equal partners in the process of learning.
    • The communication style of urban early care and education settings
    • A theoretical framework that drives assessment decision making in the classroom
    • The philosophy of remaining business oriented when interacting with children and families
  2. Learning occurs through
    • Rote memorization
    • Directed tasks
    • Independent tasks with no teacher or child disruptions
    • Social interaction
  3. When building positive relationships with children, your potential influence on children’s behavior
    • Is limited because they have a foundation of trust with you as the teacher
    • Grows significantly because they have a foundation of trust with you as the teacher
    • Is limited because they do not have a foundation of trust with you as the teacher
    • Grows significantly because they do not have a foundation of trust with you as the teacher
  4. Positive classroom climate
    • Is a statement made when the teacher is doing a good job with her day to day tasks
    • reflects the overall emotional tone of the classroom and the connection between teachers and students
    • describes the temperature of a classroom
    • None of the above
  5. Reciprocal and responsive classroom approach
    • Increases outcomes for children
    • Improves academic tasking and engagement
    • Decreases incidence of Challenging Behaviors
    • All of the above
    • None of the above

6. Which one of the statements is untrue when asked this question, what are some ways to create meaningful connections?

  • Allow children to enter your room, put away their belongings and go to centers without checking in with you
  • Pay attention to each individual child and their families.
  • Show respect for children’s and their families cultural, linguistic, and religious beliefs.
  • Listen to children and adults when they speak to you, and respond appropriately to their questions.
  • Know what interests each child and talk to the child about that interest.
  •  

7.Well-designed environments make classroom life easier for teachers and children. Well-designed environments do two specific things:

  • promote engagement
  • reduce the likelihood that challenging behavior will occur
  • spread joy and happiness
  • A and B
  • B and C

8.What does “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” mean with relation to classroom design?

  • Avoid future problems by taking care of potential problems before they become a problem
  • Monitor your surroundings and react in advance of a situation
  • Plan in advance
  • All of the above

9.When considering creating a well-designed physical environment for your VPK classroom, you must consider the most essential elements:

  • How much time and money you have
  • Minimizing large open spaces in which children can run, overpower, or become distracted and disengaged
  • How aesthetically pleasing the space is to parents
  • What is trending with young children at the current time

10. Schedules are

  • Rigorous, controlled, and inflexible
  • For teachers
  • Basic time-management tools, that consists of a list of times or time frames at which possible tasks, events, or actions are intended to take place.
  • All of the above

11. Predictable Routines

  • Encourage participation
  • Upset children
  • Usually cause challenging behaviors
  • Are only for children who can read

12. Choosing the right learning materials is based on

  • material use, interest, type, and change
  • what children want
  • what was recommended in your latest training
  •  space, durability, and interest

 

13. To develop a well-managed classroom and maximizes children’s learning opportunities, you must

  •  minimizes distractions
  • Build large spaces that permit every child access at once
  •  Create a classroom atmosphere of productive and high turn-over in child tasks
  • Allow children to do anything they choose with no boundaries

14. Developmentally appropriate behavior management means

  • Treating children as adults with meaningful consequences
  • Effective teaching methods that prevent and redirect misbehavior
  • Presenting multiple behavioral expectations
  • Maximizing the time you spend correcting behavioral issues

15. To use developmentally appropriate behavior management you must focus on which of these most critical elements:

  • Consistent  and Realistic Expectations for VPK age children
  • Rules that are meaningful to the teacher
  • Consequences that include time-out, dismissal from activities, and punishment
  • All of the Above

16. Teaching Rules the Basics:

  • Make sure you have the child’s attention before you give the direction
  • Maximize the number of directions
  • Generalize the way directions are given
  • Tell the child exactly what you don’t want him/her

17. Learn and Practice the Rules by

  • Explicit Instruction
  • Practice
  • Priming the Event
  •  Reinforcement
  • None of the Above

Resources (copy)

For Your Review