Educational Social Environments & Classroom Social Environments
This page includes: this overview, description of a traditional classroom environment, categories to consider for positive educational social environments, and positive communication and instructional strategies for teachers & students.
Before you teach you should recognize your personal beliefs and theories and analyze what their impact will be on your classroom practices. To discover and be able to explain how your ideas and theories align with and affect your methodologies, strategies, procedures, and interactions, which will in turn affect the success you and your students achieve. The following information provides assistance for your reflection and analysis.
First, review a summary of the social environment in a traditional classroom.
The classroom is a unique social environment unlike most other social organizations. Below are five attributes for all social environments with a description for each in a traditional classroom environment. Notice how different they are from social environments such as: a group of friends, a club, religious group, sports team, travel group, alumni group, and most other groups.
- Learning is the main objective.
- Outcomes of learning and procedures for achieving them are chosen before the group is assembled.
- There is little participation by the members of the group in the assessment and revision of goals and methods of instruction.
- Mandatory participation by students is enforced by law.
- Time of birth and place of residence determine school and class placements.
- Members of the class have no control over the composition of the group.
- The leader is chosen without the participation or consent of the membership.
- Law and custom, rather than group consensus, establish the prerogatives of the leader.
- Freedom of expression and movement are controlled by the leader.
- What the class can and cannot do is often determined by those who preceded and will follow them.
- Membership in other groups may exert strong pressures to accept or reject classroom norms.
- Other groups often carefully scrutinize the work of students and their teachers.
Points of Interest
- Most social groups select leaders. Members may choose to participate and the degree of participation. If individual members do not agree with the group, they may leave.
- If a majority of the members do not approve of the leader’s role, they elect a new leader.
- The teacher is the appointed leader of the class, or a social group, and derives authority from this appointment as teacher.
- The power of leaders depend on how they interact with students. Leadership power derives from five sources of power illustrated on this Classroom leader power model and chart
Possible goal categories to consider for educational social environments
Interact and work with students in ways that respond to and meet their diverse needs (social, academic, physical, emotional):
- Interacts in culturally diverse classroom to create certain culturally responsive social curricula
- Manage your professional lives each day
- Negotiate your classroom social curriculum with your students. Attain classroom flow in learning. Manage conflict.
Culturally responsive teachers must: Avoid long-standing traditional, subject-centered, top-down, and non-negotiable ways of working with students and create new ways of interacting with students to develop shared visions through mediation and negation that motivate students to take risks and seek empowerment from learning and become an ethical person and self learner.
Positive Communication & Instructional Strategies for teachers & students
- Validate students’ opinions
- Create an equitable climate
- Avoid segregation in the classroom
- Find legitimate multicultural materials that are bias-free Involve the students’ parents in the learning process
- Use community resources
- Keep expectations for each student reasonable but challenging
- Teach students that differences are not deficiencies
- Enable students to use their own cultural resources and the cultural resources of others
- Encourage students to take academic risk
- View yourself as one of the learners
- Deal with controversial topics objectively
- Use academic, socio-political, cultural and interpersonal conflicts to teach conflict resolution
- Serve as a guide to your students, not a boss
- Include all your students in legitimately practicing democracy in your classroom
- Develop and Use Mindful Labels
- Are actively involved
- Can achieve their goals
- Are comfortable working with all types of people and using other cultural practices
- Cultures are validated
- See role models form their cultures on a daily basis
- Know the school belongs to everyone
- Believe they can learn See their own and other’s differences as positive and not negative or stifling
- Believe that all kinds of knowledge is values and personal “stories” are told
- Do not fear failure – but view knowledge acquisition as a worthwhile risk
- See the life-long learning process modeled by the teacher
- Look at situations not people-taking the time to arrive at reasonable decisions
- Learn to resolve conflicts using proven strategies and mediation
- Are empowered to make decisions about their own life and learning
- Validate the power of self-determination and self-definition
- Students are advantaged by their traits and characteristics, not held back or miseducated.