managing the learning environment

as a teacher, managing the learning environment will set the tone for your students success. It will affect everything you do in the classroom, from the first day of school until the last. In order to manage the learning environment effectively, the following should be considered…

time management
ideas for managing time in the classroom:
1. use an egg timer on over head to help students know how much time is left
2. try to find age appropriate songs in between lessons or centers
3. whistle or something comparable to get attention
4. have teacher spring cleaning to get rid of things that are no longer used and use the students to sometimes help you
5. have a file cabinet and file everything in cabinet right away
6. keep a daily schedule on the board or somewhere visible to help you and the students know what is next
7. make sure you always keep hard and computer copy of everything, when possible
8. be clear with directions and how much time is allotted for a given task
9. don’t let everything get you down
10. make a to do list
11. pick and choose assignments; try not to rush and keep at a steady pace

12. each child should have a color, number, for everything

distribution of materials

organization and management of the classroom is the key to quality instructional time. the handling and distribution of materials in the classroom can take a significant amount of time; therefore it is important to develop a systematic approach to storing and retrieving classroom materials. the following are suggestions for establishing strategies for making the distribution of materials more efficient:

  • prepare materials ahead of time.
  • develop places for convenient storage of frequently used materials.
  • materials for student use should be in a location accessible to all students and movement to and from this area should be clear and unobstructed. the teacher may have a designated area or container where materials for the day's class or subject are placed prior to class, if the students are to pick up the materials themselves.
  • establish and practice procedures for handing out and picking up learning materials and student papers. for example, one student from each row might be assigned to pick up materials and distribute them to the other students in the row. this causes less traffic and confusion than all students going at once to pick up materials and uses less time than having the teacher distribute all materials. it is important that the student be taught to follow this procedure and have ample opportunity to practice carrying it out correctly.
  • develop supplementary materials (backup materials should be available for activities that finish early or are ineffective). supplementary materials might include alternative instructional activities, personalized activity sheets, extra worksheets and learning materials, or relevant instructional games.
the following examples provide some ideas for organizing student materials. student work may be stored and organized in various ways. it is important to teach students early the importance of organization and make them responsible for as much of their organization as possible. granted, no matter how hard teachers may try, some students are not good organizers.

ideas to help students may include:

  • student folders arranged by subject stored in their cubbies or in a file in a certain place in the room that is accessible to students.
  • tubs or containers labeled with student names for them to store their work in when it is in progress.
  • trays for turning work in to the teacher are important for students to use when an assignment has been completed.
  • supplies such as scissors, glue, crayons, etc. can be kept in labeled bins. storing materials in these bins keeps them organized for when you need to use them.

room arrangement
classrooms should be an encouraging environment for students. the classroom environment must be conducive to learning. this requires good planning and proper use of space. the arrangement of furniture, accessibility of learning materials, and labeling of areas provide organization and structure in room arrangement. flexibility of arrangement is crucial so that the room can vary according to the type of learning activity adopted at the time. to encourage collaborative work, desks and chairs ought to be arranged in groups rather than in straight lines. desk grouping can also be used in various sizes according to students’ different abilities and learning needs.

Jon Saphier and Robert Gower provide these basic space guidelines:
1. Materials students use should be visibly stored and accessible
2. There should be no dead space which promotes random or illegitimate activity
3. Arrange the room so that the teacher can monitor quickly and easily (no blind spots)
4. Use vertical space for display and learning enrichments
5. Keep active areas distinctly separate from quiet spaces
6. Keep two active areas distinctly separate to avoid distraction and interference
7. Have clear and safe traffic paths no matter how your room is arranged

collaborative learning

collaborative learning is a situation in which two or more individuals attempt to learn something together. students can develop higher learning thinking skills, develop oral communication and social interactive skills and most importantly, it creates an environment of active, involved, exploratory learning. fortunately in the classroom, there are plenty of ways to incorporate collaborative learning in lesson plans.
Ideas for reading comprehension:
group students into groups of 4. have the students read a chapter from a book you are working on together (one paragraph at a time). after each paragraph, students should collaboratively agree on what they feel is the main idea of the paragraph. it would be ideal to group stronger readers with struggling readers – that way, they are able to model the stronger readers.

think-pair-share: teacher poses a question/problem and students are paired with a partner to think of ideas, solutions, answers to the posed question/problem. students can share their answers in a whole group or write their answers for a teacher to collect. either way, the teacher is able to assess the students’ learning/understanding.

sample social studies lesson:

teacher prepares wall for a match game. using velcro and index cards, one side of the board will contain facts/events about an individual on each index card and the other side/half of the board will have the names of historical figures listed on the index cards (on name per index cards). students will be divided into teams to match the name of the individuals to the names on the index cards to the event that happened in their lives. –the teacher can have several boards with facts/individuals so that students are teamed up and can race to a finish, or a few students can work collaboratively on one board. (this can also be used solving math facts/problems)


there are many ways teachers use transitions in a school day. these can be when lining up to leave the classroom, changing from one subject to the next, and getting the class' attention in general.

here are some basics with transitions:

1. have a signal
2. give specific directions
3. follow up to ensure understanding
4. model when necessary
5. say "go"; let the students know its okay to start

here are a few different transition signals:
1. ring a bell/ honk a horn
2. say "count down to a ...". often you can say "clean desk", "quiet", etc. and then start the count down at 10 or 5. this gives the kids a better timeframe of getting ready for the next activity.
3. playing music
4. tap each child on the shoulder to get their attention

helpful resources/websites/references
found on dr. carr's website under "transitions"
- a to z teacher stuff
- the teacher's guide time management for educators
utah staff development network - several ideas on incorporating collaborative learning in the classroom classroom organization resources classroom architect class set-up tool ideas on using classroom space classroom seating arrangements classroom design classroom arrangement checklist first day of school
alabama department of education. (2003). classroom organization. retrieved march 22, 2010 from
university of nebraska-lincoln. organization and management of the classroom. retrieved march 22, 2010 from