This policy acts as a guide to the type of learning environment expected in a TMS school classroom. In this regard, this policy ensures a shared understanding of a positive and constructive learning environment, and ensures consistency throughout all TMS schools. Teachers and learners are expected to value and respect classroom environments which contribute to the values, ethos and standards in The Millennium Schools.
Aim of the Policy
TMS classrooms should support and enrich the learning of all learners. As well as being rich, vibrant and welcoming, the classroom environment is a learning tool, a way of engaging learners, promoting and building the class and school climate for learning. Furthermore, TMS classrooms are places which create a sense of ownership and are used to support and promote learning, as well as celebrating learners’ learning achievements.
In order to realise these ambitions and make our classrooms comfortable and encouraging learning environments, everyone is expected to abide by the following policy statements.
- Everyone in a classroom should be treated with courtesy and respect
- Biased or prejudicial language of any kind should not be tolerated
- Classrooms are places where learning conversations happen. As such, teachers should provide support for discussion and dialogue which is structured, where everyone is listened to and everyone has chance to contribute
- Punctuality is important. Ensure that everyone is on-time for class.
- There are no breaks during lessons, except for comfort breaks with the express permission of the teacher
- Except where they are being used as a resource in a lesson, mobile phones should be put on silent or turned off. In the case of an emergency, the teacher and, where necessary, school management, should allow mobile use but only outside of the classroom
The Classroom as a Resource
With thought and planning, an effective classroom environment is used as an interactive resource supporting teaching, learning and assessment. The classroom as a ‘learning environment’ in this policy includes:
- The visual (display) environment
- The learning activity organisation (e.g. tables and chairs, book and other equipment storage, ICT resources (e.g. interactive whiteboard) etc.
- The whole environment, what is frequently referred to as management of learners and activities within the classroom i.e. is the classroom environment well-managed by the teacher for learning
- The level of light, especially natural light – the classroom should be clean, well-lit and with open (uncluttered) window areas
For all TMS classrooms, the following policy statements apply:
All classrooms should be bright, stimulating and welcoming for learners, teachers and visitors
Displays need to be tailored to the specific needs of learners, taking account of any additional needs of individual learners
The classroom should be an environment to celebrate learner’s achievements in all areas of the TMS curriculum, but especially in writing, in order to boost learners’ self-confidence
There should be examples of writing, including quotations, for learners to aspire to
All teachers should view classrooms as interactive resources to support teaching and learning effectively, therefore displays and decorations should not be fixed, but should change regularly
Teachers should ensure that classrooms are environments which support learner’s learning by providing prompts, models, good examples and information which they can use within their learning on a daily basis
Teachers need to ensure that the prompts and examples provided in classrooms are referred to, and added to regularly, so that they do not become ‘invisible’
Teachers should always work to develop learner’s ownership of their classroom by involving them in the development and relevance of their working environment
The classroom should be seen as a learning environment in school which enables learners, teachers and visitors to gain an insight into the learning taking place in classrooms
Within a school, the learning environment of each classroom should be consistent across all classrooms so that the school’s priorities for high-quality learning are visually evident
Classrooms should reflect the learning that is taking place, showing work in progress as well as finished work
Expectations of Classroom Use
All classrooms should provide the following at an appropriate level for the age of the learners working in the classroom:
- Learning objectives, learning outcomes and key questions are to be displayed and referred to in lessons (using, as appropriate, learner’s books/ the classroom displays/ IWB/ whiteboard)
- Good examples and ideas that are generated during lessons are displayed and referred to as a means to support on-going learning; in this regard, teachers should see the walls of the classroom as ‘working walls’ as part of on-going learning during lessons – ‘working walls’ are short-term, dynamic and well-planned uses of the learning environment
- Prompts should also be placed around the classroom which support learners’ learning about learning. Such prompts should support learners’ talking and thinking about their learning
- The teacher should see the classroom learning environment as an opportunity to provide a particular focus on literacy and numeracy. For example, modelled examples of types of writing, examples of learners’ writing, comprehension questions/ideas, word problems, visual models, prompts etc.
- Learners’ work should be used to affirm features of accomplishment that are desired for their work, particularly the priorities for learning
- Vocabulary relevant to the focus of learning should be evident in all planned areas of learning
- There should be an interactive element to displays in the classroom, where learners have the chance to interact with displays either during the main teaching in a lesson or as an activity in their lesson or informally to extend their learning beyond the lesson
- Interactive aspects of classroom displays should enable learners to use a range of learning styles, for example adding drawings, writing in speech bubbles, etc.
- Learners work does not need to be mounted, as it is expected to develop rapidly and change frequently
- Handwriting on wall displays should not contradict the schools Nelson handwriting scheme.
The Classroom – Display as Celebration
Learners’ work should be celebrated by being displayed in corridors, communal spaces and other shared areas. However, it is expected that the central topics learners are studying will be clear and in evidence within classrooms. This involves display of pupils’ work in core subjects and ICT. To display learners’ work:
- Work displayed should be named and dated
- Paintings and photographs should be mounted, as well as written work
- Captions to explain the learning process, pose questions or provide contextual information should be part of the celebration display. Captions and titles should also be mounted
- Using boxes, stands and other additions to make parts of the display three-dimensional should be considered as these enhance displays
- Each class is expected to maintain the display boards that are in corridors within the vicinity of their classroom
- Displays as celebration of learners’ work should change at least termly. Writing should take priority so that children can see good examples and know that this is valued
- Displays should belong to the learners and not be ‘fixed dressing’ created by teacher
- Learners’ work that reflects process does not always have to be the finished product. A good display will stimulate discussion and curiosity and should be changed regularly to maintain this level of interest
- TMS classrooms should be corporate and consistent. Although it is expected that teachers bring their individualism to classrooms and to learners’ learning, classrooms should represent The Millennium schools’ standards and priorities and not those of individual teachers.
- Colours should be chosen carefully. Any background mounting should complement a piece of work, not distract from it.
- Display boards should be edged with border roll or other edging and contain a clear title.
- All teachers are expected to evaluate their classrooms and whether they are successful as learning environments. Ask: ‘Has the display worked?’ ‘Are the learners using displays or talking about them?’ ‘Is it a useful tool for teaching?’ ‘Has it made learners feel proud?’
Monitoring of the implementation of this policy forms part of the lesson observation process conducted by school heads and subject leads.
Attendance and Participation
Class attendance and participation need to be encouraged and managed; all teachers should strive for learners’ active class participation and discussion in all lessons.
Class participation is a very important part of the learning process. A key understanding for TMS teachers if that it is the quality of learners’ contributions and insights that is of true value, rather than the quantity of contributions from learners.
Use the following points to ensure quality contributions:
- Each learner’s contribution in class should offer a different, unique and relevant perspective to the discussion point
- Learners’ participation should always be moving discussions, or analysis of answers to questions, forward
- All contributions should build on other comments
- Learners’ contributions should always demonstrate some reflective and/or critical thinking
Expectations of Behaviour and Discipline
Teachers should use the following guidelines to create a comfortable and productive learning environment in their classrooms:
- Lessons should start and end class on time
- Homework (reinforcement activity) should adequately cover the material and meet the learning objectives
- Teachers should ensure that learners come to class on time
- Plan lessons which support ALL learners to be attentive and engaged in class
- Provide a classroom environment where learners are comfortable to seek help when appropriate
Teachers should set clear rules for learners’ participation and behaviour. These include, but are not limited to:
- Raising a hand before speaking
- Listening to others
- Staying on task
- Listening to instructions
- Cooperating with others
- Not interrupting other learners’ learning
- No defacing of school property
- Clean up after activities and keep the classroom tidy
- Learners should be expected to be organised and prepared for class
- Respect all ideas given in class
- Do not criticise anybody’s ideas or thoughts
Learners’ Collaborations in Class
The following guidelines are examples of acceptable collaboration between learners in classrooms:
- To clarify vague or misunderstood points in handouts, textbooks or discussions
- Discussing or explaining the lesson material
- Discussing homework to better understand errors made
- Working on separate tasks to complete a group activity
Use of videos and recordings
At TMS we must ensure that time spent by learners in pursuit of an education is wisely and efficiently used. Movies, movie clips and other audiovisual materials are important tools in the educational process that teachers have access to. However, the use of such materials should be limited so that they are appropriately and effectively used in achieving educational objectives that supplement the curriculum being taught.
General selection criteria should include the following:
- Quality of the overall recording being used
- Fair and accurate representation of the facts/ principles
- Any recordings or movie clips used in the classroom should be reviewed before the class and should not include inappropriate language, depictions of violence or any inappropriate behaviour
- Movies shown in their entirety are not allowed except with prior approval of the School Head
- Teachers should not show movies as a reward during regular instructional time
- When such materials are used in a classroom during instructional time, there should be a pre-activity and a written post-activity for learners
- Ensure age appropriateness
- Time Limitations – Teachers should be careful with the use of audiovisual materials and should weigh the value of the AV material against the instructional time it consumes