The physical environment of the classroom is talking about the way a classroom is set up. Some of the key elements are accessibility, visibility, and distractability.
The materials in the room should be accessible to the students as needed. The students should know where supplies are and be able to access them. Also, part of having an accessible environment is having the furniture arranged so that the teacher and students can easily move about the classroom. The teacher should be able to easily access all students in order to solve a discipline problem or help with an assignment.
Visibility refers to the students' ability to see the teacher, board, projections screen, etc. When arranging the desks, the teacher should sit in the desks to ensure that students will be able to see. Also, the teacher should be able to see the students at all times. Students shouldn't be hidden behind a bookcase or filing cabinet. During small group instruction, the teacher should be positioned so that he or she can see all the students.
Distractability refers to the inherent distractions of a classroom. Things such as pencil sharpeners, windows, doors, trash cans, etc. can cause distractions to some students. The teacher should take into account the individual students when creating a seating arrangement in order to accommodate for students who may become distracted.
The physical environment of the classroom concerns everything about a classroom including but not limited to classroom size, arrangement of desks, bulletin boards, temperature, number of students in the classroom, windows, colors on the walls, acoustics, lighting, organization, etc. Physical environment of the classroom is very important to student success.
In order to meet the needs of all students it is important to have a classroom that complies to all learners. To begin with, lighting is very important. There should be both well lit and dim areas of the room. There should also be plenty of room left for the children to get up and move safely if they need to. Classrooms should also have a small lounging area that may contain a comfy chair or sofa. Quiet areas are very important as well as areas where students can listen to materials on cassette.
If you take all the attributes of a physical environment - lighting, acoustics, size, comfort, safety, access to technology, etc. - and put them together, they have a profound affect on the way in which students are able to learn. A positive physical environment adds to the educational experience, while a negative one can prohibit learning.
For example, and I am not complaining here, it's just a reality, but I have taught in a 25 year old portable for the last ten years. It has electrical issues, the roof leaks when it rains, and it is typically 55 degrees or so in the mornings when I arrive. The desks are small and from the 1970's, and the fire sprinklers are merely decorative, as they are not hooked up to water of any kind. All of these issues affect learning in my classroom in that students who are cold or too hot are distracted and moody, students that are uncomfortable have a hard time focusing, and the fact that I worry about my and my students' safety distracts me.
While not the most important element in a classroom experience, and there are certainly a variety of other factors that come into play on any teaching day, physical environment can nonetheless be the deciding factor with regards to student learning.
A classroom must always be safe. The physical environment is becoming more and more important in terms of classroom safety and management in today's society.
Buildings that are newly constructed are beginning to eliminate large windows, windows near doors and outdoor-only locks. The indoor key hole has become an added safety feature.
For fire code and building safety, massive groups of wires from computers and the like are being removed, there need to be passageways to the exit and even limitations of paper on walls have been made.
In terms of classroom management, I think it is important to be able to get to any student in 2 seconds or less, just in case of an emergency. So, I make my rows wider in some spots so I have great passageways to every student's desk. This also makes it easy for me to move about the room when I am teaching and can discipline often just by putting my hand on a desk or shoulder for students to know I will act if necessary. For more on classroom management google Fred Jones, discipline guru.
The definition of physical environment is simply the physical characteristics of the room. This refers to things like the size of the room, how dark or light it is, what the temperature is like, whether it has carpeting or just concrete, etc.
The major importance of the physical environment is that it can affect students' comfort and, to some extent, their ability to learn. Students who are uncomfortable are unlikely to learn as well as those who are comfortable.
In addition, the environment can affect the morale of students. If they feel their classroom is physically worse than those of richer kids, for example, they might be discouraged and upset and less willing to learn.