Establishing an optimal learning environment is one of the most important components of my educational philosophy. I can show up with incredible content knowledge and lesson design ability, but it will be for nothing unless students understand two things: that they are safe and accepted in my classroom, and that the work they are doing is meaningful and relevant to their lives and their future (Marzano, et al, 1992).
Maintaining a safe classroom means addressing inappropriate behavior, monitoring bullying and threats, investigating parent and student safety concerns, and consistent monitoring of the students. This is essential in elementary schools where parents are leaving their young children in the care of adults who are strangers to them. The burden of care in the elementary school is great because students are less capable of caring for themselves. In middle and high schools, students are bigger and stronger. They sometimes have access to weapons or are more willing to fight. Keeping a safe classroom is essential in the secondary setting.
Providing meaningful and relevant work also contributes to a positive learning environment. ...