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Certified PreK-6. Masters in Child Development. Advocate for play, teacher & children choice, & the family's voice. Believe in volunteering as social justice.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Culture of a Classroom

As I was reflecting on the changes that the little people and I recently made to the classroom environment, I began to think of the cultural climate in the classroom.  What do the environment, my actions, and the actions of my little people say about the culture of our room?  Upon further reflection, this is what I came up with to define the cultural values within our classroom community.

Problem Solving
Problem solving is a skill that is valued and nurtured within the classroom.  Children are encouraged to think of different ways to solve problems and to discuss with each other and the teachers solutions to problems that arise.  As a result, creative solutions to every day problems often occur, such as this child using a book to assist her in carrying a stack of blocks to her construction site.

Collaboration among peers and with teachers is encouraged.   I believe that learning occurs within the context of relationships and the act of working together is valued within our classroom.  Because of this, the little people are learning (more and more everyday!) to have the confidence to go up to a peer to ask for help or offer help and to accept the offer of help or a new idea from a peer.

Looking Closer

The idea of making observations extends past the role of the teacher and into the eyes of the little people.  The curiosity to look at objects in a deeper way is a daily way of life within the classroom.

Trying it Out
I think (hope) that the culture in my classroom encourages children to go ahead and "try it out".  The little people have the confidence to walk up a slide, step up on a chair or table, use an object in an unusual way without the fear of being told no.  This is one thing that I really recognize comes from my personality and comfort level as a teacher.  I have a trust in the little people to make wise decisions because they have been taught how to do so and so when they step up on a table, I observe and know that they are doing it for a reason and step back and allow them to "try it out".

You, and Your Work, are Important
Whether it be photo books, smaller bulletin boards, large panels, picture frames, or randomly made and placed signs, the children's work permeates the entire classroom and areas surrounding the classroom.  To me this signifies one of the strongest cultural elements within the classroom.  The idea that the work the little people do is important and should be respectfully displayed for future revisiting. 

I'm sure there are other elements within our classroom that define our culture, but these pop out as the most influential within our daily lives.  As I continue to reflect on the values and rituals that define our classroom culture, I am curious to see if the parents and other members of the school community would find the above values to be true within the classroom.  If what I see to be the defining elements of our culture are what they too see to be defining cultural characteristics.

I hope the answer is yes, because actions do indeed speak louder than words.

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