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Lyndsey Machinski
EDI 638
Cleveland
10/31/19

A Safe Place

Safe. My classroom will be considered a safe zone. This is the main and most important

factor in my classroom. Students come from many different backgrounds. Some are raised by

their parents, some are raised by one parent, and some are raised by other family members. Some

students have had a fairy tale upbringing, while others have been exposed to trauma. When my

students walk into my classroom, I want them to know that they are safe. I want them to

understand that they can trust me and that I love them and that they are special. When reading

through our Wong and Wong book (pg 63), I came across the $20 lesson where the teacher asks

anyone if they want the $20 bill. He then crumples it up and steps on it and gets it dirty and then

asks who still wants it. Of course, they all do because even though it was stepped and stomped

on and crumbled up it did not lose its value! The teacher then goes on to connect that to the

students being special, even if they get stomped on and treated badly, they still have value. This

demonstration will happen in my classroom. When students feel safe, they are more likely to

participate, and when students participate, they feel more involved in the learning.

Physical Space

The actual arrangement of my classroom I am still working on. Obviously I will not

know exactly how I want it until I see the room I am in and meet the students. I think that I will

either have my students’ desks in clusters of four or five, or I will have two U-shaped rows
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where all the students are facing forward. I want there to be space for teachers and students to

move around freely. I want to be able to see every student from the front, and make sure every

student will be able to see me. There will not be any desks where the students’ backs will be

towards me. My style will be more of a freestyle in the area of desks and arrangements. I will

give the students the option if they want their desk at normal height, or lower where they can sit

on a pillow on the ground, whatever the student feels more comfortable with.

There will also be alternative seating options for students who want something a little

different from the normal chair. I will have the options of exercise balls, crates, wobbly stools,

or pillows for the students to sit on. There are many benefits for having an alternative seat

option. One benefit is that it gives the students a choice. It helps them feel they have some

control over their day. Another benefit and probably the best one is that is stimulates students’

sense of touch, which in turn helps the students focus better and therefore learn more (How

Teachers…2018). These options help students get their wiggles out without disrupting the

entire class. There are a few students in the classroom I am assisting in right now that I think

would benefit from some alternative seating options.

The walls in my classroom will be painted a nice, neutral color that does not attract too

much attention. I will have pops of color throughout my room, but nothing too distracting.

Walking into some of my own children’s classrooms, I am overwhelmed by the amount of stuff

on their walls. But to be honest with you, before I started this program, I would have decorated

my walls the same way. I could not wait until I could hang up all my posters, signs, and bulletin

board stuff. I did not realize how overwhelming this could be to my students. When there are so

many visual distractions, students have a hard time focusing on the task at hand (Terada, 2018).

I plan to cover about 50%-60% of my walls with visual aids, students work, classroom
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procedures, and leave the rest blank (Terada, 2018). This is the best learning environment for

most students.

The lighting in my classroom will also not be traditional. I plan to use as much natural

light as I can, but I also plan to have lamps around the room and see-through drapes hanging

over the bright fluorescent lights to help dim them. The fluorescent lights tend to give me head

aches and I am sure they can affect students in the same way.

I plan to have a cozy reading area for when the students do silent reading. I want to have

bean bags, recliners, pillows and blankets so they can cuddle up with a book and get

comfortable. I want them to fall in love with reading the way I did, and having a comfortable

spot helps.

Another physical aspect I plan to have in my room is a calming corner. The purpose of a

calming corner is to help support self-regulation while keeping students in the classroom if they

need a break from instruction or group activity (Soma & Soma, 2018). How to use the calming

corner will be explained to all students when school starts. This is a place they choose to go to

when they find themselves upset, frustrated, sad, or any other emotion. The calming corner will

have relaxation tools, feelings charts, and calming strategies. When a student is feeling anxious,

nervous, scared, or sad he will be able to go to the calming corner and self-regulate. This is in

my classroom that I am assisting in and I have seen many positive outcomes for the children who

choose to use the calming corner.

When students walk into my room, I want them to feel calm and peaceful. I am hoping

by the way I arrange it and decorate it, I can accomplish that. A study from 2014 found that

young students spent more time off-task when classroom walls were highly decorated, while
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research on flexible classrooms shows that optimizing physical characteristics of classrooms

such as light, color, and seating options can improve academic performance by as much as 16

percent (Terada, 2018).

Behavior/Classroom Management

As I stated at first, my classroom will be safe. I will make it known that we respect

everybody in our room. Meanness, bullying of any kind will not be tolerated. We do not laugh

at others, we do not call names, and we do not resort to any type of physical behavior. How will

I enforce this and let my expectations be known? I plan to follow most of the “Discipline with

Dignity” theory. I want to build a relationship with each student. I want to get to know them,

understand what makes them tick, and how best to help them. According to Curwin and

Mendler, when you build a relationship with a student, and you strengthen that relationship over

the year(s), it will minimize conflicts with that student (Curwin & Mendler, 1988). I want to

create mutual respect. I would start off the school year with my students and I creating a social

contract. Students participate in creating the social contract, so they feel they have a choice in

what the rules are going to be. In the contract rules about which behavior will not be tolerated

are clearly defined (Curwin & Mendler, 1988). Having this contract will let know students know

exactly what is expected from them and what the consequences will be if they break the rules.

I also plan to use positive reinforcement. A lot of times when a student is misbehaving, it

is because they just want attention. Attention from you or other students, it does not matter if it

is bad attention, they act out for mainly that reason. When I focus on positive reinforcement, I

am giving attention to those students that are following expectations. And by doing that, I hope

to encourage the student who misbehaves for attention to start following expectations so he can

be praised for doing what is right, and get good attention, not bad attention!
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Classroom Procedures

In my classroom, we will follow a routine. I will make sure the agenda is visible, so

students know what to expect for the day. Even when something different comes up (like an

assembly), the students will be prepared because they see it on the agenda. I would like to start

the morning off with good news. I want the kids to share any type of good news that happened

since the last time I saw them. This is part of building relationships and letting the students

know I care about them as a person, not just a student. Also, I want to highlight a star student of

the week. This helps me and their classmates learn more about them.

Technology

Technology is a great tool for teachers! Children nowadays are very savvy when it

comes to technology. Ideally, I would love to have a Smartboard in my room, and one-to-one

chromebooks or some other sort of device. But besides that, I plan to have a classroom

Facebook page where parents can see pictures from the day and are kept up to date with the

happenings of the class. I plan to use different websites for brain breaks, for example Go

Noodle.

Conclusion

When students enter my classroom for the first time, I want them to feel safe. Over the

course of the year, I want them to be respectful, grow in their learning, have fun, and get to them

on a deeper level. I want to build a real relationship with them, and my classroom is a tool to

help me with that. When students leave my classroom, they will know they are special and have

value and hopefully have learned some strategies to continue to be successful in their next

classroom!
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References

Curwin, R.L., & Mendler, A.N. (1988). Discipline with dignity. Alexandria, VA: Association for

Supervision and Curriculum..

How teachers use alternative seating to engage students. (2018, April 24). Retrieved October 30,

2019, from https://www.parenttoday.org/how-teachers-use-alternative-seating-to-engage-

students/.\

Soma, C., & Soma, C. (2019, May 6). Calming Corners. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from

https://starr.org/calming-corners/.

Terada, Y. (2018, October 24). Dos and Don'ts of Classroom Decorations. Retrieved October 30,

2019, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/dos-and-donts-classroom-decorations.

Wong, H. K., Wong, R. T., Martinez, W., & Martinez, W. (2018). The first days of school: how

to be an effective teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications.


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