Teacher's influence in the classroom environment

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Teacher's Influence in the Classroom Environment Najat Dixon

EDU 241 Central Carolina Community College


This paper explains how critical the teacher's influence is on the classroom environment. Through children literature, we will see that verbal and non verbal communication can influence a child's sense of self worth.

Teacher's Influence in the Classroom Environment Verbal and non verbal communications can affect a child's motivation for learning and assertion of their sense of worth. It can influence how they view themselves and how they think the external world is viewing them.

Randy Nevins Stanulis and Breda H. Manning in their research paper" The Teacher's Role in Creating a Positive Verbal and Nonverbal Environment in the Early Childhood Classroom" use children literature to highlight (1) "how teachers talk to children, (2) How teachers allow children to talk to each other, and (3) how teacher help children talk to themselves about their learning".<

Bradley in There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom (Sachar, 1987) is a child with serious behavioral problems constantly seeking his teacher's approval. Unfortunately Mrs. Ebbel has very little faith in him. As she tries to find a seat for Jeff, the new student, the language she uses sets the tone for the class environment.

"Well, I guess we'd better find you a place to sit." She looked around the room. "Hmm, I don't see except,

I suppose you can sit there, at the back."

"No, not next to Bradley!" a girl in the front row exclaimed.

"At least it's better than in front of Bradley," said the boy next to her.

Mrs. Ebbel frowned. She turned to Jeff. "I'm sorry, but there are no other empty desks"

"I don't mind where I sit," Jeff mumbled.

"Well, nobody likes sitting . . . there," said Mrs. Ebbel. (p. 4)

Furthermore she allows his classmates to talk negatively about Bradley and apologizes for not having another sit for the new student, consequently establishing a negative "cultural norm in the classroom".

In contrast, in The Flunking of Joshua T. Bates (Shreve, 1984) Joshua has to repeat third grade. His initial attitude toward his teacher Mrs. Goodwin was "hostile and bitter". She gave him many opportunities to" prove himself that he was bright and could achieve", by involving him in her classroom and asking him to help her.

In these tow situations the verbal and non verbal environments influence the self worth of the children. In one case the child is yearning for friendship and acceptance and the other the child believes that he is smart and builds self confidence.

The teachers will influence the classroom environment, whether positive or negative. That influence will depend on verbal and nonverbal signals. "How much adults say, what they say, how they speak, to whom they talk, and well they listen" (Kostelnik, Stein, & Whiren, 1988, p. 29); In so many words, being honest with a child. When paying complete and sincere attention to a child, we teach the child how to value themselves and others. Whereas paying a superficial attention to a child, not making eye contact, can influence negatively the child's perception of his or her self worth.

The language allowed within the classroom can also play a major role in a child's sense of self worth. If the teacher allows a negative verbal environment, the impact can be as dramatic. Our self-worth depends on the interactions we have with others.

Self -talk also influences how children view themselves. The way we talk to ourselves impacts our feelings and our self esteem. We tell ourselves what we would not dare saying out loud. We can positively self-talk by reinforcing correcting or guiding ourselves toward a goal; Or we can do the opposite. According to Harris (1990), helping children become aware of their self-talk has several benefits:

A child becomes able to use self-verbalizations for emotional release; these verbalizations occur during action and continue to be primarily involuntary. Finally, child develops the capability for socioemotional expression- the use of self-verbalizations before an action in order to regulate performance. (p. 37)

Teachers can help children self-talk positively by demonstrating how they talk to themselves during the school day; showing them examples that are helpful and some that are unhelpful. Children will be able to distinguish how they talk to themselves throughout the day and understand how to apply positive dialogues with themselves, and therefore build a stronger sense of self. Teaching children how to positively talk to themselves, will help improving their scholastics results.

Nonverbal actions are also key in maintaining a productive environment. Eye contact, facial expressions, posture, tone of voice; touching and gestures need also to be observed. Research shows the nonverbal component of communication often overshadows the verbal portion of the message (Gorden & Nevins, 1993). People tend to believe the nonverbal cues over the verbal cues. Teacher need to be cautious as to what they body language is communicating.

If teachers believe they are responsible for a positive verbal environment, they need to act upon it. They have the opportunities to change "negative school environment into a positive place to learn", helping children learn in a health, encouraging, environment. A child with a strong sense of self will be a productive learner, and they will value themselves and others.


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  2. business and professions. New York: Harper Collins.
  3. Harris, K. (1990). Developing self-regulated learners: The role of private speech and self- instructions.
  4. Kostelnik, M., Stein, L., & Whiren, A. (1988). Children's self-esteem: The verbal environment.
  5. Childhood Education, 65(1), 29- 32
  6. Nevins Stanulis, R., Manning, B.H. (2002). The Teacher's Role in Creating a Positive Verbal and
  7. Nonverbal Environment in the Early Childhood Classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol. 30 Issue 1, p3-8, 6p, 2 charts
  8. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=11305234&site=ehost-live
  9. Sachar, L. (1987). There's a boy in the girls' bathroom. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  10. Shreve, S. (1984). The flunking of Joshua T. Bates. New York: Random House