Programme 5 ~ Improving the learning environment

Improving the learning environment Arranging the classroom Classrooms are not always accessible or ideal learning environments. They are often overcrowded, and may have limited or poor quality furniture. It can be difficult to learn in this sort of environment, but there are some simple things teachers can do to improve the situation. What can you do? You can rearrange the desks and chairs in the room to suit a particular activity, such as group work or project-based activities. Organising the classroom in different ways can make lessons more interesting and inclusive. A well-arranged room may be more accessible. It can become safer and easier for children with mobility and visual impairments to move around. The way the room is organised can also help children to see or hear better. A well-organised room helps all children, especially those with learning disabilities, to remember where to find or put things. Cleaning and decorating the classroom At the start of the day, teachers and children may spend time preparing the classroom. There may be cleaning to do, such as sweeping, emptying rubbish bins, or wiping the blackboard. In some places, the task of cleaning the classroom or fetching water for cleaning is given to girls but not to boys. This can interrupt girls’ learning. Their parents may even decide it is not worth sending girls to school if they spend too much time cleaning instead of learning. What can you do? You can make sure that the chore of cleaning and preparing the classroom is shared by boys and girls. As well as cleaning, other simple improvements can make a classroom feel more welcoming and inclusive. For example, you can decorate the classroom with colourful flowers, or wall decorations, or mobiles made from free, recycled material. You can encourage children to find and make materials to decorate their classroom. This helps them to feel included as part of the school community. Toilets Toilets are a very important part of the school environment. They have a big impact on children’s attendance and participation in school. When school toilets are dirty, inaccessible or feel unsafe, children may be unable to use them. This can affect their health and their concentration in class. Often in cases the school toilets are quite a distance away from the classroom, or the journey to a toilet is not always safe or pleasant. But also the actual toilet itself is not often clean, and they are quite narrow and dark places. What can you do? You can create a plan, with the help of school staff, children and parents to ensure the toilets are cleaned regularly. Together you can also identify and address safety concerns around toilets, such as making sure they are not too dark, and that doors can be locked.

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