Environmental management

Environmental Structure

Structure sets limits. Examples of limits in classrooms include: furniture, size, temperature, sound, rewards, and consequences for behavior. All meant to direct, control, manipulate,organize, schedule, and maintain standards of behavior. On a bigger scale school organization or grammar is also included as environmental management

Interventions must be exercised cautiously. However, when a child is out of control, intervention is necessary, but in all situations the goal is for the child to exercise self-control. Therefore, the big goal is to reduce teacher intervention and support students so they can personally make good decision that create and maintain a safe and supportive learning environment.

Systems to help children organize: break down tasks, set priorities, structure and organize the environment, organize time, pair stimuli when possible (visual, auditory, tactile) and provide feedback in the form of encouragement, praise, and reinforcement.

Parents and teachers have to change from a verbal and reaction-oriented form of discipline to a positive intervening form of discipline. That means not waiting until something has happens and reacting, but step in before something happens and do or say something that will change what could happen, proactive.


Plan ahead as much as possible

Tools that affect environmental structure

Instructional suggestions

Creating a Risk Free Environment


The classroom atmosphere must be conducive to thinking and problem solving. Students must feel comfortable that if they take a risk they will not be put-down. Teachers must provide support for students to achieve this scholarly atmosphere.

Teachers Create a Risk Free Environment when they

Validate student's feelings with statements like.

  • You’ve worked hard on ...
  • I know you are having difficulty doing this. It takes time to learn how to do ...
  • It takes effort to concentrate with so much happening.
  • Good, you chose to finish this before ...

Give students credit for learning and

Encourage them to reflect on the strategies and habits of mind they used.

  • That’s a creative idea. How did you think ...
  • Remember what Kelly thought of earlier? Could you use it?
  • Good idea now you can finish. How did you think of it?
  • Use that process and find a solution. Why did you select that process?
  • Why would you want to try that?
  • Good you almost have the answer. What made you choose that strategy?
  • That is a very good strategy. What made you choose that strategy?

Give statements of information.

  • Give clues for information they have overlooked.
  • Give students clues for information they do not seem to know.
  • Give clues on how to organize.
  • Give clues on strategies to solve problems.
  • Give clues on strategies to answer questions.
  • Give students information they do not seem to know.
  • Give information they have overlooked.
  • Give information on how to organize.
  • Give strategies to solve problems.
  • Give strategies to answer questions.
  • You know I wonder how people can ... (Complete with information on how to do something or on emotions people have.)
  • Give clues on habits of mind that are useful for success (open minded, curious, persistent...)
  • Give clues on process that might be successful (problem solving heuristics, observation, classification, inferences, sketches, lists...).

Use reflective summaries to clarify what students say or mean.

  • What I hear you saying is ...
  • I get from what you say that ...
  • So you think that ...
  • Let me put what I think you said in my words.
  • So you feel that ...

Grouping students

Ways of forming groups

Materials and space

Suggestions for quiet reflective spaces

A quiet corner in the room with a tent or book shelving to set it off. Should consider it there is a necessity of being able to view students in the quiet center.


Suggestions to manage:




Parent and Community Involvement

Joyce Epstein suggest there are six ways for parents and communities to be involved in student's education.

  1. Parenting, where families establish home environments to support children as learners.
  2. Communicating, design effective school-to-home and home-to-school communication about events and student assessment and evaluation.
  3. Volunteering, recruiting and organizing parent help and support.
  4. Learning at home, provide care givers with information and ideas on how to help students at home with curriculum related activities, decisions, and planning.
  5. Decision making, include parents and community members in decisions made by the school and develop parent and community leaders and representatives.
  6. Collaborate with community, identify and integrate resources and services from the community to strengthen school programs, family practices, and student learning and development.

Source: Joyce L. Epstein, in Phi Delta Kappan May 1995 article School/Family/Community Partnerships Caring for the Children We Share


Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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