Educational Standard 5- Environment

Learning Environment The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.

In a classroom, a teacher should endeavor to create the best learning environment possible for his or her students, modifying aspects of the classroom to support learning and providing supports in the way of schedule, and clear expectations.

While student teaching, my mentor teacher and I use a daily schedule (see Material 1.1), placing it a clear and visible location so every student can see and utilize the resource. Not only does this schedule support the learning of students, it also supports the teacher in their planning and time management. The daily schedule supports a variety of learners and is especially helpful to four students in particular who require advanced emotional preparation for transitions as well as a concrete understanding of the daily events. Utilizing the daily schedule provides an opportunity for teachers to set clear expectations for each event and reminds students of what those expectations are. According to Harry Wong, students must be introduced to expectations early on and reminded regularly of those expectations. The daily schedule has been in use daily since the first day of school and students know what is expected of them throughout the day

Utilizing a daily schedule supports student’s physical, emotional and intellectual well-being. By allowing students the opportunity to know what is happening in advanced, particularly for young students who require a significant amount of structure to feel safe and secure. Additionally, displaying clearly what the expectation is for the day helps support students who have emotional, intellectual and behavioral difficulties with transitions, of which I have several in my classroom (Lewis and Doorlag, 2003).

By using a daily schedule, my understanding of the importance of structure for students who require extra support, and even for young students has been clarified and reinforced. Without a schedule, the tenuous continuity and organization of my class would fall apart.

By introducing and following a daily schedule, teachers and students equally benefit. In each grade level, students are expected to attend to and learn many skills. Without time management, teachers would not be able to cover all standards, and students would not have the opportunity to learn the content. In addition, using the schedule as a reference at the beginning of the day primes students minds for what they are expected to learn for the day.

Some ideas I have about changing how the schedule is used would be to make the schedule larger or move its location. Not every student can see it easily, nor can the teacher see it from every angle of the class. In my classroom, I would place the daily schedule in the same location morning meetings occur. This way, the schedule is in front of every student at the most critical moment; when the schedule is reviewed in its entirety.

Secondly, I would refer to the schedule multiple times throughout the day. Currently the only time we refer to the schedule is at the beginning of the day, during morning meeting. Although I currently will refer to the schedule if a student specifically asks me what is happening next, I do not intentionally refer to the schedule in front of the whole class. Although there are specific students that would benefit from explicit references to the daily schedule due to learning needs, all students would be given more piece of mind, and it would encourage their time management skill development.


Lewis, R. B., & Doorlag, D.H. (2003). Teaching Special Students in General Education (6th ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Wong, H., & Wong, R. (2009). The first days of school: How to be an effective teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications.

Material 1.1

Course Reflection- EDU6942

  • Restate Standard 5 “Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being”

     As a teacher, I responsible for making my classroom a place students feel they can express themselves, convey concerns and confide in me. Creating a safe classroom environment is particularly important because it may be the only place students experience that type of atmosphere. Although there are many reasons for which student should feel safe in my classroom, one particular reason is in the event of abuse occurring in their home lives. Ultimately every student should feel safe enough to communicate to me if they are in danger.

  • Presentation of evidence with brief descriptionscreen-shot-2016-11-22-at-5-45-33-pm

Above I have included a link for and clip of the Washington State DSHS guide to understanding what child abuse is and what the responsibilities of mandated reporters are. Washington State’s DSHS guide is a comprehensive work which teachers can refer to regarding identifying signs of abuse in their students, how they can support students and what they must do in keeping with their obligation to report their suspicions or verified occurrences.

  • Justification of how the evidence connects to emerging competence on the topic

Washington State provides a comprehensive guide to understanding child abuse and how to report such events. Without proper knowledge about child abuse or tools to help assess whether a situation is abusive or not, new educators can feel lost or unsure of what to do. Reading and referencing this tool, teaches can become more competent as well as confidant about how to support their students in these particular circumstances. The better a teacher understand what child abuse is and how to identify it, the more quickly they will be able to identify abuse in their students. As helpful as this tool is for new teachers, this guide is not only for new educators. Veteran teachers must also regularly remind themselves what to look for and how to respond in such circumstances.

  • What experience did your mentor have for reporting child abuse, youth violence, and neglect (be sure to omit details in the description, such as names)?

My mentor this past quarter had several experiences working with students who had difficult home lives. She stated she felt confident in her ability to identify conversations as well as physical signs when children in her class were experiencing trouble at home. As a part of pre-kindergarten interviews, this particular teacher had participated in interviewing a family with a male student. During the interview, it was discovered the student lived in a van with his parents. At night, the parents would leave the child alone while they worked, and when they were home during the day the child would sleep or play. Two weeks before this male student was scheduled begin kindergarten, he had not been toilet trained. The teacher and principle then filed a report with DSHS in order for the child and family to receive appropriate support. Although this example of neglect is likely different than many teachers will encounter, as the parents had volunteered this information, educators can benefit from considering how to respond if faced with this predicament.

  • What is the protocol and process for reporting suspected child abuse at your school or district?

According to the school website, Edmonds School District employees are mandated to report any type of suspected child abuse to a school authority. This is significantly different than the national expectation for teachers to report any suspicions or confirmations directly to DSHS, filling out all the information themselves. Understandably, there is value in sharing information with administration, however, teachers should also be responsible for filling out the DSHS report, not only to insure the report is filed within 48 hours of the alleged child abuse but also so any details accounted to the teacher are accurately and thoroughly conveyed.

After discussing this significant difference with my mentor, it was conveyed to me how this school district approach is utilized. On any given day a student may come into class at the beginning of school and the teacher could suspect child abuse. At the beginning of the day, the teacher likely does not have adequate time, ability or privacy to discuss, in detail, with the student they believe has been harmed. Therefore, the teachers use a tag-team approach. If an educator suspects issues at home, they will ask office administration to come talk with the child in question and investigate further. The office then files the report. However, if a student tells their teacher directly they are being abused, the teacher will meet with the principle and they will file the report conjointly.

  • What are a few ways you create a classroom where students “trust the teacher with sensitive information” (Internship Performance Criteria, description of distinguished from 5.1)?

Two specific ways educators can create a classroom where students feel free to confide in the teacher sensitive information can be found within the Internship Performance Criteria for Seattle Pacific University resident teachers.  First and foremost, a teacher should endeavor to develop a safe and positive learning environment. Not only will students thrive academically in such an environment, children will also be more likely to share information that may make them feel embarrassed, scared or worried. Without a safe learning environment, children are likely to remain silent and teachers might easily miss gleaning this important information. Secondly, an educator must work to build a bridge between parents and the school community. By creating a warm and inclusive community, communication tends to be more open, between parents, students and the teacher. When this environment exists, child abuse is less likely to go unseen and undiscovered.

  • Implications for student learning

When students feel safe in their classroom environment, leaning happens! Students should not only feel safe from physical abuse from others, but also from emotional or verbal abuse. If such abuse is occurring in the class, students will shut down verbally and emotionally, resulting in an emotional state which is not conducive to learning.

  • Propose specific changes or next steps to increase effectiveness in the area under examination

Although teachers are mandated reporters, I propose information on who to recognized child abuse is not addressed regularly enough. Without reminders and regular refresher courses, it is easy for teachers to forget helpful tools that may help them catch “red flags” of child abuse sooner and more accurately. By providing regular exercised in identifying child abuse and practicing asking important questions, teachers can feel more competent and confidant in their role as mandated reporters.

EDU 6989- Field Experience Reflections


  • Curriculum adoption, knowledge vs. student centered curriculum (April 15, 2016)

 When considering curriculum, school boards must consider the population they intend on reaching. There are many circumstances which must be considered in order to provide the best education to students, even on the macro level of curriculum adoption. Experts find themselves disagreeing with one another about the best way to serve and equip students of the next generation.

Two important issues school boards must consider is the adoption of national standards and the use of technology in the classroom. While experts appear divided on these two issues, districts must make decisions that will result in student centered education. There are many points to be raised about both topics.

For example, perhaps students should have more access to technology as they travel through school. Once they graduate these very same students must be able to utilize the technology many jobs have come to rely on. However, perhaps schools miss the boat when they only create environments that support learning through technology. There is interpersonal knowledge that can only be developed by working with one another face to face. This knowledge includes such things as learning how to respond to conflict or even having empathy for others. When it comes to national standards adoption, school boards that choose local standards may hinder students who consider jobs outside of their home state after graduation. However, when national standards are used, students may miss out on noteworthy information that national standards to not necessarily highlight.

Regardless of decisions made, all students must be equipped with an education that ushers them into the adult world leaving them competitive in the job market as well as competent and able to succeed. By finding a balance, school boards can make thoughtful decisions about these two important classroom issues.

  • Character, Moral and Religious Education (May 1, 2016)

Religion in some form or another is inescapable within the context of a classroom. Whether the subject is history, science or art, religion plays some part in the evolution of school subjects. Teachers must find and strike a balance between properly portraying religions and maintaining a non-bias stance. While this is not impossible, it is difficult. Many teachers have well formed ideas of certain religions and it is difficult to not portray bias.

Outside of specific subjects, morality and the issue of character education can also be tied to religious affiliation. While you do not have to be religious to be a good person, much of the time it is easiest to refer to Biblical reasoning for such things as treating others well, being honest and trying your best. It is important to remember any one of your students may not be affiliated with a religion or may even feel as though they are viewed as a bad person because of their lack of affiliation.

Regardless of the potential correlation between morality and religion, I believe it is important to encourage character education within the classroom. This does not mean it must be taught from a Biblical perspective. Such phrases as “Do unto others as you would have done to yourself” are widely accepted and respected no matter what background one may come from. There are a variety of Character Education curriculum available that are not tied to religious values. We as teachers are obligated to help develop upstanding and contributing members of society. Our nation relies on it. If teachers neglect this aspect of education in the public school system, future generations will suffer the cost in every avenue of life.

  • Learning and Emotional Disorders (May 8, 2016)

 Discussing and addressing learning and emotional disorders within the context of the classroom has, for many years, been a source of frustration, contention and confusion on the part of both the parent and the educator. Amidst these charged feelings, over the last few decades there has been a strong push to mainstream students with both learning and emotional disorders. As a teacher with extensive background in mental health, this topic is of particular interest to me.

It has been my experience that more often than not it is the parent who has the strongest feelings toward the idea of special education for their children. In Taking Sides: Teaching and Educational Practices, argument author’s Kauffman, McGee and Brigham recognizes the struggle parents have, suggesting people no longer see special education as “fair or equitable”. In fact, Kauffman, McGee and Brigham, suggests parents may be on to something, stating the education system has lost sight of what accommodations for students actually should be. Instead of allowing students “off the hook” in order to accommodate their needs, we should be providing accommodations that actually help them meet the standard, not change the standard itself.

Accommodations cannot and should not be a “one size fits all”, just as everyone is different from one another, metal and physical disabilities manifest themselves in different ways. Accommodations should be provided. Schools should work to provide fair and equitable education no matter what the child’s abilities. However, educators must be careful not to limit a child’s ability to develop independence by providing an academic crutch. Certainly, the job of creating and implementing accommodations may be seen as more difficult with this sort of mentality, however, the education system would do students a disservice with anything less.

Evans, D.L. (2008). Taking sides: teaching and educational practices. (3rd ed). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.