Creating an Inviting Classroom Environment

Key InfoSix Functions of the Classroom Setting

Although you will make personal decisions about your classroom, there are six basic functions a classroom serves that can guide you in your decisions. These functions, first identified in 1973 through the research of Fred Steele, relate to a wide variety of physical settings, including offices, homes, and commercial spaces. In her books Elementary Classroom Management (2007) and Middle and Secondary Classroom Management (2006), Dr. Carol Weinstein suggests practical ways to apply Steele's six functions to the classroom.

Knowing these functions will increase your awareness of the physical environment and its impact on learning and classroom management.

Functions Implications for Classroom Management
I. Security and Shelter
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The classroom setting provides physical and psychological security and comfort. Physical Security, the condition of having a physically safe, functional classroom, is the most basic functional criterion that must be met in order for students to learn.

Psychological Security is the feeling that the classroom is a secure, comfortable place to be. Establishing a warm psychological climate is a prerequisite for a focused learning environment.
II. Task Completion
The classroom setting supports the specific learning tasks to be carried out there. You can avoid many management problems by setting up the classroom appropriately for the specific tasks students and teachers need to accomplish.
III. Social Contact
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The classroom setting is arranged to suit the amount of student interaction desired. Every room sends a message to students about whether or not it's okay for them to communicate with one another. It's important to make sure that the message sent by your room matches your desired level of student-to-student interaction. You can avoid many classroom management struggles when the physical environment you've created is congruent with your goals for social contact.
IV. Personal Expression
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The classroom setting reflects the teacher's and students' backgrounds, activities, accomplishments and preferences. Simply stated, it means personalizing a classroom. Displaying students' work and items they find meaningful communicates to them that they are important and special. Students are more likely to take care of a classroom that they think of as theirs. Personalizing the classroom with information about yourself communicates to your students that in addition to being a teacher, you are a real person.
V. Pleasure
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The classroom setting is attractive and aesthetically pleasing. Studies suggest that students learn best in attractive classrooms. Aesthetically pleasing classrooms have been shown to positively influence students' behavior, including improving attendance and feelings of group cohesion as well as increasing persistence on tasks and class participation.
VI. Growth (Intellectual Development)
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A learning-enriched environment—one that is equipped with materials and resources—encourages intellectual growth and development. Students are more likely to be engaged if they find the classroom stimulating and interesting. When engaged, they are learning rather than disrupting.

From Carol Weinstein, Elementary Classroom Management: Lessons from Research and Practice, 2nd edition, © 2007 McGraw-Hill Companies. Used with permission.

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