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Classroom Learning Environment

Developing and maintaining a positive learning environment is a foundation for effective teaching. Given the complexity of the learning environment and all the factors that influence this environment, there are no magical solutions to achieving this goal.

Although there are some general guidelines that work successfully for many effective strategies, the important thing to keep in mind about managing the learning environment is that it is an ongoing active process in which the teacher must be a careful observer, communicator, facilitator, and manager.



The resources in this section offer general information and strategies related to learning management. They offer ideas and reflective questions for dealing with common classroom management issues. We strongly encourage faculty to dialogue with experienced peers about various issues and strategies.



Critical Incidents: Part 1– Discussion Guide for Faculty

This guide describes 10 common incidents related to managing the learning environment. They include situations related to:

Disruption Add/Drop Period Technology Failure Active Engagement
Connecting with Students
Poor Listening
Special Needs
Students Confidentiality Mental Illness

For all situations, faculty are encouraged to discuss the complexities of the situation with their colleagues and brainstorm ideas for dealing with them positively and constructively.


Critical Incidents: Part 2 – Possible Strategies

This document outlines possible preventative, in the moment, and follow-up strategies for handling the 10 common critical incidents listed above. It is important to recognize that these are only a few suggested actions and that there are many other options that could be considered. Faculty are encouraged to discuss a variety of strategies with experienced teachers and select those that work best for their course, program, and student group.


The Four Stages of Teaching Related to Learning Management

The information in this file was prepared for the Teaching and Learning Open Forum and is based on work by T. McIntyre (2004) called, A Primer on Behaviour Management, found at the following site:

The four stages discussed are:

Stage 1 – The Shiny New Teacher;
Stage 2 – The Shell Shocked Teacher;
Stage 3 – The Authoritarian Teacher;
Stage 4 – The Skilled and Caring Learning Manager;
Stage 5 – The Wise Mentor

Read this information to determine which stage you might be at, and how you can move forward in terms of your approach to behaviour management.



McKeachie, W.J. (1994). Teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (9 th edition). D.D. Heath and Company.

Davis . B.G. (2001). Tools for teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Community College of Vermont . (2004). Effective teaching: a guide for community college instructors. American Association of Community Colleges.



Managing the Learning Environment (Vol. 1, No. 6)

Understanding and Enhancing Student Motivation (Vol. 3, No. 6)



Building a Learning Community in Your Classroom
Retrieved January 13, 2006 from is an online professional development network of resources and learning modules designed specifically for the needs of community college faculty. This particular page describes several different strategies for breaking the ice, getting to know students, and getting students involved in learning.

Classroom Management
Retrieved January 13, 2006 from

In this excellent document on classroom management Lisa Rodriguez discusses many important factors related to building a positive classroom environment. These include: setting the ground rules, managing the tempo, connecting with students, and helping students learn to be college students.

Handling Crisis – California Community Colleges
Retrieved January 13, 2006 from

This section of the 4faculty site describes warning signs for possible crisis situations that may come from students who are not coping effectively. Although teachers should recognize that they are not counselors and should refer students appropriately in a crisis, recognizing some of the warning signs can be very helpful.

Difficult Behaviours in the Classroom and Possible Responses – Honalulu Community College
Retrieved January 13, 2006 from

This section of the faculty guidebook offers tips on how to deal with various difficult behaviours including rambling, shyness, arguing, hostility, and complaining.

Managing Student Behaviour in the Classroom and Lab
Retrieved January 13, 2006 from

The learning and teaching centre at BCIT has prepared a number of guides for faculty. This one is designed to help faculty ncrease positive student behaviour in classes and labs and contains checklists designed to:

  • help anticipate opportunities for disruptive behaviour
  • help plan ahead to increase positive student behaviour
  • describe techniques that increase the likelihood of positive student behaviour
  • help handle problems when they arise.

The Carrick Exchange
Retrieved March 25, 2008 from

The Carrick Exchange is a key mechanism for identifying, disseminating and embedding good individual practice and institutional practice into the higher education sector. The Carrick Exchange supports networking and the development of communities of practice across the higher education sector.