Instructional Environment

junior school: children enjoying maths

The instructional environment refers to the instructional, behavioral, and personal aspects of the classroom experience.

An extensive amount of research has linked positive academic environments to higher student test scores and graduation rates.


Instructional environments are made up of multiple, inter-related facets that can either support or inhibit learning.

A positive academic environment is characterized by high quality instruction, peers and staff who support achievement-oriented behavior and serve as positive role models, high academic expectations, and institutional academic supports for struggling students. High levels of teacher satisfaction, a sense of collective responsibility among staff for promoting academic achievement, and the availability of teaching materials also characterize a positive academic environment.

High expectations for student learning coupled with strong supports is a recipe for student success.

Teachers and school administrators who hold high expectations for student learning, cultivate a student culture supportive of academic achievement, and provide students with the necessary supports to meet those expectations can expect positive student outcomes. High expectations also must be codified in curricula aligned with rigorous content standards and paired with effective teaching techniques to ensure that students develop the academic knowledge and skills they need.

Well-managed classrooms that limit behavioral disruptions are a prerequisite for effective schooling.

When classrooms are mismanaged, behavioral disruptions among a few students may interfere with learning for an entire class. Although the school-wide disciplinary environment plays an important role, appropriate classroom management strategies are key to laying the foundation for a strong academic environment.


Dunbar, C. (2004). Best Practices in Classroom Management. Michigan State University. Retrieved from:

Oliver, M. & Reschly, J. (2007). Effective Classroom Management: Teacher Preparation and Professional Development. Washington: Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from: 


Featured Resources

CDC logo

Provides a framework for teachers, administrators, and policy makers in designing or selecting curricula, allocating instructional resources, and assessing student achievement and progress. Importantly, the standards provide students, families and communities with concrete expectations for health education.

Thumbnail cover -  Project GROW Multi-Tiered School Mental Health Support

Presents a video, created by the Elk Grove Unified School District, on the experience and successes of schools under Project GROW, an Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Grant program. The program uses a multi-tiered approach to address behavioral issues and provide developmentally appropriate interventions to students so that they can develop the skills to succeed in the instructional environment.

Elk Grove Unified School District in Elk Grove, CA
Report cover - Supporting and Responding to Behavior: Evidence-Based Classroom Strategies for Teachers

Summarizes evidence-based, positive, proactive, and responsive classroom behavior intervention and support strategies for teachers. These tools can help teachers capitalize on instructional time and decrease disruptions, which is crucial as schools are held to greater academic and social accountability measures for all students. 

Brandi Simonsen, Jennifer Freeman, Steve Goodman, Barbara Mitchell, Jessica Swain-Bradway, Brigid Flannery, George Sugai, Heather George, and Bob Putman
Thumbnail cover - U.S. Department of Education Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Website

Presents a recently updated federal website featuring resources, tools, policy guidance and information for parents, educators, administrators, service providers, and advocates for infants, toddlers, and youth with disabilities.

US Department of Education
Best Practices: Building Blocks for Enhancing School Environment report cover

Identifies four important components to creating a positive and supportive school environment— caring relationships, structured and fair discipline policies, and rigorous academic programs— and highlights the experiences of administrators, students, and teachers. While the publication’s focus is to help military connected schools to better address the needs of their military students, what we present has relevance for all of our children in all of our schools.


Robert Blum

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