A-Z Index

1.5 Creation and development of positive learning and work environments

All Northwest teacher, leader, and counselor candidates upon completion are able to create and develop positive learning and work environments. They have a deep understanding of curriculum implementation, as well as the connections between student learning and the physical spaces in which students learn as well as strategies for designing and using classroom and school environments that foster learning and develop critical thinking in their students.

We have divided this part of our QAR into three subsections: the first addresses two of Northwest’s Institutional Learning Outcomes: Critical Thinking and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the second details 62-117: Inclusive Classrooms and Positive Learning Environments. This course introduces vital management and learning environment concepts to candidates. The final section explores evidence of applying diversity and inclusivity in student teaching gathered using the Missouri Effective Educator System.

After reading this section, it is also recommended that you read the section that addresses AAQEP Standard 2.3; a section which builds upon the data presented below with First-Year Teacher Survey data following completers’ first year of practice.

Northwest Institutional Learning Outcomes: Critical Thinking and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Throughout the university, coursework in both the PEU and also in general education emphasizes professional self-reflection and professional collaboration through two of the university’s seven institutional learning outcomes: Critical Thinking and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The Critical Thinking outcome states that all Northwest students will be able to “utilize information to generate reasonable hypotheses and draw educated conclusions, elucidate solutions based on these conclusions with the ability to self-evaluate their effectiveness,” and “recognize that this process is self-reflective and continuous.” The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion outcome further emphasizes all Northwest students attain the capacity as “culturally competent citizens who understand and engage comfortably with difference” Through these core university-wide outcomes, all Northwest graduates learn to reflect on their work through a self-reflective and continuous process and also work effectively as part of a team. To better understand how Northwest’s institutional outcomes align to the Missouri Educator Evaluation System (MEES), individual program-specific standards and outcomes, and AAQEP standards, see Table 3: Northwest State and National Educator Prep Standards Alignment

Introducing Positive Learning and Work Environments in 62-117: Inclusive Classrooms and Positive Learning Environments

Undergraduate candidates take 62-117: Inclusive Classrooms and Positive Learning Environments in their third semester in the program. The course provides candidates with knowledge and understanding about the history of special education and inclusion, sources of referral to parents and teachers, identification procedures for individuals with disabilities (including the impact of language, culture, environment, and mental health issues), inclusive methods for teaching students with disabilities, those with gifts and talents, and English language learners. Candidates will be introduced to factors to consider when developing an inclusive and positive classroom environment such as emotional intelligence, strengths-based teaching, preventive strategies, student engagement strategies, and classroom management (including time, space, transitions, and procedures). 

This course provides a foundation to inclusive and positive classroom and learning environments as a way to meet the needs of all learners. This course requires all candidates to identify appropriate IEP accommodations and modifications and when they are needed as per field experience observations and interactions. This course provides all education majors (including special education teacher candidates) with an embedded field experience in which the candidates participate in a service project of 15 hours of interacting with children and adults with disabilities.

This course introduces standards-based interdisciplinary units as a way to meet the needs of all learners and promote a deeper understanding. This course/module focuses on various aspects of inclusive and positive classroom environments including the exploration and development of professional philosophies on classroom management and inclusion, as well as the development of a classroom management plan.

A course-embedded requirement includes a service project where candidates interact, learn from, and support individuals with disabilities.

Applying the Creation and Development of Positive Learning and Work Environments in Student Teaching: MEES Standards #3-5

Please note: Missouri Educator Evaluation System (MEES) is introduced in an earlier section of this report. If you have not already read that subsection, it is recommended that you go back to the previous section which details AAQEP Standard 1.1. This section will only address the MEES assessment as it applies to MEES Standard #3-5.

MEES Standard #3 addresses candidates’ curriculum implementation, MEES Standard #4 addresses critical thinking, and MEES Standard #5 explicitly addresses candidates’ curriculum implementation. This is another example where MEES standards do not explicitly align with AAQEP standards. DESE standards explicitly address critical thinking and curriculum implementation, but Northwest embeds in and aligns these important concepts with candidates’ ability to create positive learning and work environments. Creating positive classroom and work environments encompasses both using and teaching critical thinking skills as well as successful curriculum implementation. For more information on Northwest’s standard alignments, see Table 3: Northwest National and State Teacher Prep Standards Alignment.

As shown in the data below, Northwest candidates’ performance on MEES Standard #3-5 compares favorably with the state average for 2018-19:

Further information regarding Northwest candidates’ performance on summative MEES assessments is available in later sections in this report: