Teacher Toolbox
Classroom Management - Classroom Environment


classroomIndividuals with special needs may be easily distracted in a space that contains a multitude of colors, directive and interesting posters, and elaborate displays. Extraneous hall noise, student activity, smells from the lunchroom and/or materials used in classrooms, hums from florescent lighting systems, and noise from heating/air-conditioning systems and electrical or mechanical gadgets can also be distracting.

Tips for Creating a Calming and Predictable Environment

  • Simplify room layout by designating specific areas for defined activities. An example of a Pre-K classroom for children in the Wake County School system shows distinct areas for activities such as reading, work, snack and music. Clearly label the areas and storage using color coding or a pictorial system.
  • Designate specific areas for quiet work.
  • Only post necessary information such as schedules, examples of children's work, classroom expectations, and information that is to be used for instruction.
Careful Seating Arrangements Can Lessen Distractions
  • Arrange chairs in a horseshoe array
  • Seat away from doorways, windows, and high traffic areas such as the pencil sharpener
  • Place easily distracted children and those who require the most assistance near the instructor
  • Provide special types of seating arrangement for quiet or calm down areas of the room. Examples are a "thinking time" chair that acts as a quick reminder about the consequences of inappropriate actions, where the child sits away from teacher and peer reinforcement, and "waiting chair" to help diffuse the anxiety of waiting for a turn.
  • Feet support can help for short legs that cannot reach the ground.
  • Floor lamps and non-fluorescent lighting systems can eliminate some of the extraneous sounds and glare. Remove fluorescent lights and replace them with string of lights that are above each desk to cut glare. Use as much natural lightening as possible.
  • If a child is easily distracted by noise, use headphones that cover the whole ears (not earplugs) to block out sounds. It is particularly important to have children use headphones when working at the computer to avoid distracting other children.
  • Keep classroom supplies in a consistent location.
  • Regulate the classroom activity flow by having specific activities the student can independently complete when they are finished with their required work and need to quietly continue doing an activity.
  • If the room is not easily modified, another solution may be to create a place away from other children within the room with something like a separate carrel or study tent.