An Analysis of Teachers' Perceptions of Their School Environment.

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The relationships between schools' physical environments and the teachers who work in them were explored. Eleven middle school teachers were interviewed about their orientation toward and operation in their schools. They were asked what they thought were their schools' most important features, how they felt about the buildings, what were its good and bad points, and what changes they had made in their classrooms and buildings. Student behavior management arose as the dominant focus of the interviews; curriculum and instruction were nearly ignored. The teachers varied in their level of awareness or sensitivity to the school environment, its effect on them, and their perception of control over it. Adjustments to the classroom setting were uppermost in their minds, while adjustment to the school beyond their own classrooms was perceived as someone else's domain. Most did not indicate that they used the environment or saw its potential as a curriculum variable. In comments about instruction and the school environment, they were most likely to mention the convenience of having a classroom located near the library, a book storage area, or other resource materials. Wall space was seldom used for instructional purposes. Some indicated that they organized furniture to support instructional activities, although the typical arrangement remained straight rows of desks and chairs. Virtually all the teachers volunteered information on their use of the environment to control student behavior. Classroom location had some impact on the teachers' social activities and friendship patterns. It is important that preservice teachers be instructed on the effects and uses of school space.
Gehrke, Nathalie J.; And Others
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