Diversity and Student Engagement
Explain classroom management strategies that are appropriate to students’ developmental levels and that encourage critical thinking.
Influence students’ active engagement in the learning process.
a) Student Diversity and Classroom Management
i) Consider the classroom management strategies studied. Choose five of them. Write an essay of 1000-1250 words in which you explain how each strategy is more appropriate for specific developmental levels and how each strategy encourages critical thinking in students. Use hypothetical examples to prove your points.
The National Research Council (2004) theorizes that students engage in learning as a result of three basic conditions. First, students have to believe in their underlying competence to learn and their control over what they are learning; this is the I Can factor. “Students need to know what it takes to succeed and to believe that they can succeed” (p. 35). Their understanding of their competence and expectation of success is also tied to emotions that can either promote or interfere with their engagement in learning activities.
Second, students have to see some intellectual or social value to what they are learning; this is the I Want To factor. Students can be engaged (or not) anywhere on a continuum from believing they are working on an activity in school because they want to do so to feeling as if they are working because they have to do so. Wanting to work is related to self-determination; students may have the idea that an education is important or they take pride in their work or good grades are valued. Having to work is related to coercion. This, obviously, does not contribute to positively engaging students in learning; it can have the opposite effect of driving students away.
Third, students have to recognize their social connectedness to others who are in their learning environment; this is the I Belong factor, which is especially related to the “importance of meaningful relationships with adults and teachers who showed an interest in them [students] as individuals” (National Research Council, 2004, p. 42). Students know when their teachers care about them and this makes a difference in their willingness to be engaged in the learning process. Interestingly, the older students get, the more likely they are less engaged in learning (Brewster & Fagan, 2000). As far as a teacher is able, addressing these three conditions will help, though not guarantee, students increase their active engagement in the learning process and see success as a student.
Although the classroom contains students with many different learning circumstances, there are general practices that teachers can follow to help motivate their students and engage them in the learning process. Most students are eager to learn and it is up to the teacher to enhance these feelings (Good & Brophy, 2003).
Know the students. The more teachers know about their students, the better they can meet their needs. What are the students’ interests and desires? How do they best learn? What is their learning or developmental level? What type of activities will spark their interests? What is their attention span, as individuals and as a collective group? All of these factors should be taken into account when seeking to motivate students to learn or to engage them in learning.
Capture their interests. Once a teacher knows the students’ desires and background, it is important to arouse their curiosity in what will be presented (Brewster & Fagan, 2000). A good anticipatory set will hook the students into wanting to know what comes next. This statement or activity will set the tone of the lesson and the new content. This can be done by posing questions, riddles, problems, etc. This is a good opportunity to draw students into the learning process; a lesson itself can be built around their cultural diversity.
Make it relevant. What practical needs will the material fulfill? Can students use it in their personal lives? Activities and information should be meaningful and relevant to real-life (Brewster & Fagan, 2000). Teachers should explain why it is important to learn the material and should make abstract material more meaningful by making it concrete and visual. Why is this knowledge useful? It is important to relate and bridge the new material to previous knowledge.
Vary the pace and activities. Stimulate attention by having students actively involved in the experience through cooperative learning, group projects, question and answer, etc. Ensure that the activities are challenging, but achievable (Brewster & Fagan, 2000). Most students have an attention span of 15??”20 minutes. After that time limit, interest is lost. Therefore, a good teacher will change the learning experiences every so often. The more students are actively involved, the more they will learn. Cooperative learning, projects, and other interactive activities ensure that students will continue to be engaged in learning.
Ensure success. It is helpful to break the instruction into small segments and make sure understanding is accomplished at each step. Do not go on to new material until students totally comprehend each part, especially if the material is complicated in any way.
Praise and reinforcement. Students do well when they receive honest and sincere praise. This praise not only helps students work harder to learn the material, it also encourages them to behave appropriately. The type of praise used is also very important. In the lower grades, classwide positive recognition works very well. At the upper grades, individual recognition is much more effective. This praise can also be utilized outside the classroom. Positive phone calls to parents or notes home are very effective.
Assessment and adaptation. The teacher should always be aware of what is happening in the classroom. Adaptations may be needed to meet the students’ needs as they are observed. The teacher is constantly adapting, checking for understanding, reflecting, monitoring, and observing reactions. Student body language is very important and must be taken into account. Truly, the teacher should have classroom presence and eyes in the back of the head (Burden, 1995).
Teachers in today’s classrooms need to be aware of the needs of their students and know the best way to reach each individual. Cultural, socioeconomic, and developmental diversity must all be taken into account as learning depends upon their skillful management by a teacher. Understanding how to engage students in the learning process can directly impact the quality of the educational environment in the classroom.
Brewster, C., & Fager, J. (2000, October). Increasing student engagement and motivation: From time-on-task to homework. Retrieved September 8, 2009, from http://www.nwrel.org/request/oct00/textonly.html#engage
Burden, P . (1995). Classroom management and discipline. White Plains, NY: Longman Group Ltd.
Charles, C. M. (2008). Building classroom discipline (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allen & Bacon.
Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, Pub. L. No. 94-142 (1975).
Good, T., & Brophy, J. (2003). Looking in classrooms. White Plains, NY: Longman Group Ltd.
Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, Pub. L. No. 105-117 (1997).
National Center for Education Statistics. (2007, September). Table 7.2: Percentage distribution of public elementary and secondary students, by region, state, and race/ethnicity: 2004. Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities. Retrieved September 25, 2008, from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/minoritytrends/tables/table_7_2.asp
National Research Council. (2004). Engaging schools: Fostering high school students’ motivation to learn. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Nelson, J., Palonsky, S., & McCarthy, M. R. (2007). Critical issues in education??”Dialogues and dialectics (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Payne, R. (1996). A framework for understanding poverty (3rd rev. ed.). Highlands, TX: aha! Process, Inc.
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