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Aspects of Comfort in School

While in high school I found it difficult to learn while among the many
distractions that came with the social, physical and academic aspects of my
school. School can be an uncomfortable place to learn, especially in high
school. There are distractions surrounding students from other students, the
environment and other classes, pressure building up in anticipation of the
next paper, test, or presentation, and anxiety of trying to make and keep
friends. There are ways to help create a more comfortable and productive
learning space though. Changes can be made to the physical environment,
such as changing the way a classroom is set up. Teachers can modify the
academic environment by the styles they use to teach. And what I find to be
the most important, the social environment can be altered by the way
students are involved in class or their
relationships with their peers and teachers.
Physical Environment
The classroom environment can be either
conducive or hindering to the process of
learning and teaching. When a classroom is
hindering the learning of students and has an uncomfortable atmosphere
there are ways that teachers or other staff can change the environment to
make it a better learning area. One way that can have a large effect on how
students learn is the furniture and technology used in the classroom. By

changing hard and uncomfortable chairs and


desks with a softer counterpart and more room to
work can help students pay more attention to their
lessons rather than their physical discomfort (Nair
and Fielding). It would take time to bring in new
chairs and desks for every classroom. Another way
is to change air conditioning systems that are
quieter and filter through clean air from old ones.

Credit: http://education.cuportland.edu/blog

Having a quiet environment and being able to breathe clean air can help
students and teachers to be more productive and have an easier time
concentrating on what they have in front of them (Reinisch). This also would
take time to update and redo all air conditioning units throughout an entire
school. Keeping a classroom clean can take time and energy, but it creates a
distraction free zone for students. While all of these changes can create a
more comfortable environment for students and teachers the expense of
new furniture and technology can exceed the amount that schools are given
to make improvements to the building.
Academic Environment
Credit: Pete McArthur

Students learn in different ways and at

different rates; some may find hands-on learning to be a better fit for
themselves, while others may like taking notes in a lecture better. Whatever
the case may be the fact remains that not all students learn the same and
not all teachers instruct the same either. There a many ways of teaching a

class, and finding the best fit for the most students can be difficult but
rewarding. Exercising a demonstrator or coach method uses a number of
formats including lectures, presentations and demonstrations, which can
apply to many students and their preferred type of instruction. A down side
to this method is that the larger the class size the more difficult it becomes
to accommodate students needs (Gill). Another method is a hybrid or
blended style of teaching. The blended technique combine the teachers
personality and interest with students needs and curriculum-appropriate
Credit: http://education.cu-portland.edu/blog

methods (Gill). If a teacher is unable to change their teaching style for


whatever reasons there are still ways that a teacher can help create an
encouraging academic environment. By providing feedback to both
individuals and the class as a whole on how to improve their work and

allowing the students to present feedback to the teacher as well (Alber). Also
making the purpose and criteria of an assignment or lesson clear to the
students and giving examples can help students be more productive in their
academic lives (Alber). There are
challenges that come along with these
changes as well. The main one is that it
takes time; both on the teachers and
students parts. If a teacher is able to
change his or her style of teaching, it can
take time for them and their students to
get used to the new method and feel

comfortable with it.


Social Environment
Changes in the social environment may be hard for those who are a part of it
as it can take time and effort to make the changes smoothly. But it can
create a more comfortable environment for students to learn and teachers to
instruct. One way to create a better social environment for students is to
compose an uplifting and joyful atmosphere in which students feel happy to
Credit: edweek.org

go to school to learn (Elias). Also creating an environment where students


are able to bond with one another and get to know their teachers can help in
future group projects and make them feel like they are able to ask questions
for help if they dont understand something (Elias). A major part in creating a
comfortable social environment is to finds ways that help students feel safe,
to create a socially and emotionally safe place, free from being bullied,
harassed or intimidated by peers or teachers (Sparks). In acknowledging
challenges and vulnerable areas in the students lives and helping them feel
secure with those trials can help students to, again, feel safer and help them
to learn without distractions (Sparks).
Opening up to someone you dont know
can be difficult, and its important to
remember that when wanting to help
students socially and emotionally, it may
take time and energy, but it is worth it if students are able to come to school
with a positive attitude and are ready to learn.

A school environment can be a place where students feel uncomfortable


going to learn, whether is it because of the physical, academic or social
aspect that turn the student away. It is important to find solutions to the
problem and fix it. By changing the way a classroom in set up or the
atmosphere that it contains, can create a more physically comfortable
environment. Modifying how teachers instruct their classes to create a more
contented academic environment that can help students learn better. But
most importantly is the social environment of the school. Feeling safe and
secure is critical to a students willingness to study and their effectiveness of
learning. A schools climate is the school communitys dynamic when a
school is a positive place to be, people are happy [and they] do their best
[to learn] (Cohen).

Works Cited
Alber, Rebecca. 5 Highly Effective Teaching Practices. 27 February 2015.
February 2016. <http://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-highly-effectiveteaching-practices-rebecca-alber>.
Cohen, Dr. Jonathan. School Climate. n.d. February 2016.
<http://character.org/key-topics/school-climate/>.
Elias, Maurice. Social and Emotional Learning and the Start of School. 27
August 2010. February 2016. <http://www.edutopia.org/blog/socialemotional-learning-tips-school-starts>.

Gill, Eric. What is Your Teaching Style? 5 Effective Teaching Methods for Your
Classroom. 5 January 2013. February 2016. <http://education.cuportland.edu/blog/teaching-strategies/5-types-of-classroom-teachingstyles/>.
Nair, Prakash and Randall Fielding. A Comfortable Truth: Well-Planned
Classrooms Make a Difference . 28 March 2007. February 2016.
<http://www.edutopia.org/comfortable-truth>.
Reinisch, Dr. Sheryl. How Comfortable Classrooms Lead to a Better Student
Community. 19 October 2012. February 2016. <http://education.cuportland.edu/blog/news/welcoming-classrooms-better-students/>.
Sparks, Sarah D. Social-Emotional Needs Entwined with Students' Learning,
Security. 4 January 2013. February 2016.
<http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/01/10/16environment.h32.ht
ml>.

* All images come from the above sources.