School Experience Tutorial 2: Classroom Environment Introduction

School Experience
Tutorial 2: Classroom Environment
Last week you observed and completed your tutorial tasks related to the School
Environment. This week we are going to take a closer look at the classroom
environment. You may have opinions on how things should ‘work’ in a classroom based
on your experience of having been a pupil in a primary school. Throughout the School
Experience Programme you have the opportunity to experience and observe how the
classroom functions from the perspective of a student-teacher. At this early stage you
are expected to observe the class to become familiar with the pupils’ abilities and
interests, the role of the teacher, the daily routines and also the texts, equipment and
resources. Later on you will be responsible for organising the pupils’ learning by
preparing and delivering lessons (amongst many other things).
Aims & Objectives
By the end of this second tutorial and observation you should be:
Knowledgeable about the physical classroom layout
Familiar with procedures and routines that contribute to the smooth running of the
classroom (in relation to behaviour, assigning tasks, language use, bullying,
learning centres, class library, eating or drinking in class)
Aware of the texts for all subjects used in the classroom and the system the
teacher has in place for copybook or work book use.
Observation tasks and activities
1. Draw a plan of the classroom
a. Pay particular attention to the layout, the arrangement of tables & seating of
children, classroom displays, areas of interest, learning centres, reading area/class
b. On the plan, write down the names of the children according to their seating. This
will help you to remember their names. Using the pupils’ names makes them feel
important and creates an atmosphere of warmth and familiarity.
c. Draw up your own plan for the classroom. Try and make the best use of the space
available for shelves, resources, displays, tables, desks and centres.
2. Find out about the timetable the teacher has adopted with the class. Is it adhered to?
Is it updated weekly according to activities, outings, peripatetic lessons?
3. What rules and routines has the teacher established? Remember that when you start
visiting your school in November, the teachers would have themselves just settled down
to work with this particular group of children. You also need to keep in mind that
although you may disagree with some rules or believe an alternative would work better,
you are observing the children only once a week.
a. Have the children been assigned particular tasks or responsibilities? These could
include collecting/distributing books, handouts etc; looking after the plants; cleaning
whiteboard; doing the weather chart and changing date/days on calendar. For how
long does a child carry out this duty?
b. What procedures has the teacher established to correct children’s work? Are there
class corrections or does the teacher find time for individual feedback? Are children
allowed to come out of their places or do they have to draw the teacher’s attention
from their place?
c. How does the teacher cater for different needs or abilities? Are tasks assigned to
children identical or do they differ depending on their needs?
d. What are children expected to do once they complete an assigned task and they
are waiting for others to finish? (Help others, read a book, go to a learning centre, sit
and wait quietly?)
e. Are pupils allowed to eat or drink during lessons? Is there a specific time when the
pupils go to the toilet? Are they encouraged to wait until break time?
f. Are there any other routines or procedures that you would like to mention?
4. Learning support. Is complementary education (support for the weaker ones)
provided? How is this organized and managed? How many children in the class use this
service? Is there a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) in class? Is the LSA responsible
for working with one particular child or is she shared? What are the specific needs of the
child/ren? Is there any provision for gifted children?
5. Which language/s does the teacher use most in class? Which lessons are carried out in
Maltese or English? Is code-switching used? When and why?
6. Make a list of the text books used with the class. Are there any sets of guided reading
books that are borrowed from the school library every week or fortnight? Are there any
workbooks that pupils are not allowed to write on?
7. What procedures does the teacher have for exercise books? Are they colour-coded by
subject? Are there exercise books from homework and others for schoolwork? Where are
these kept? What about textbooks: do children bring and take them everyday or on
particular days?
8. Download the syllabi for the year group you are observing and become aware of the
content areas to be covered during the year. Ask the teacher if you can have a look at her
forecast of work (or more detailed Schemes of Work) to get basic idea of how the content
of the syllabus is mapped out over a term.
9. After having observed and discussed these routines and procedures, what are your
impressions? Are they similar to what you experienced as a pupil? How? Is the class you
are observing in a State, Church or Private school? Do you think the type of routines
change according to the school the class is part of?