Saturday, January 30, 2010

Relationship, The 4th "R": The development of a Classroom Community

Meltzoff's article highlights some important aspects of why teachers need to see themselves as community builders vs transmittors of information. The following are some key points taken from the paper.

If we agree that learning is a social act, then effective teaching shifts the role of the teacher as a deliverer of lessons to a builder or creator of a classroom learning community

In order to be participating citizens children need to learn how to be both strong individuals and members of a community.

"..they must learn to function as part of an increasingly complex world community, where global peace and justice demand ever increasing levels of cooperation."

The quality of social life can improve as the social character of each individual develops. By extension the quality of schooling can also improve as students learn to be part of a classroom community.

In education & society individualism is the dominant value orientation. However, the concepts of cooperation and conflict resolution have moved to the forefront of concern. As children participate in a school classroom community, they receive guided practice in the relationship skills necssary for active invovlement in both the private and public spheres.

Metaphorical Understanding of Classroom Community
Although life in the classroom is a social experience, it does not necessarily constitute a community.
Teachers have certain images of their classrooms; they are guided by a metaphorical understanding of teaching, learning, and ideas.

"..the concepts that govern our thought are not just matters of the intellect. They also govern our everyday functioning."

Shift of metaphors...
Industrial model --- Weaving - created by the relationhip of the strands of one to another -- Relationship - teacher facilitates learning, teaching is an interactive process.

Community is build on the relationship guided by the teacher and developed in a synergistic context of culture, school district, school, staff, teachers, parents and students.

The Strands of a Classroom Community
Shared Leadership
Shared Ethics
Shared Environment & Shared History

The Classroom as a Hybrid Community
a classroom community is a hybrid of a traditional community of place, a moral community, a responsive open community, and an institution.

The strands are not fixed, nor is community-building an all-or-nothing proposition. The more strands incorporated into the classroom, the closer the members come to developing a community. As teachers - at all levels -  develop classroom communities, additional strands may become evident.

Community-building is a viable and essential goal for all teachers. Our society need to foster the growth of people who are skilled in personal and interpersonal relationships, as interpersonal moral development precedes civic virtue.

In order to create communities that are inclusive of all people from all backgrounds and abilities, our citizens must learn to share leadership and power, to participate in decision-making and problem solving.

Teachers must provide opportunities for students to express opinions and to communicate clearly in group settings.

Students must practice working individually as well as in group settings.

If we long for healthy communities in a sustainable world, our citizens must cooperate with one another for the common good, and acknowledge our interdependence with the rest of the ecosystem.

Strands Charts

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