A guest blog entry by MRB (student, world citizen)
Growing up I had two teachers as parents and have heard many stories.
Much like some of the stories I have heard from my parents, I have experienced my own. As a future teacher, I reflect back and try to learn how to get students to socialize and establish their own positive social image.
In most classrooms you have the stereotypical students year after year. There are the jocks, the cheerleaders, the preps, the goth kids, the “stoners”, the overachieving teacher’s pet, the class clown, the quiet one, and the trouble maker, among others. Then you have your average students, who are there because they have to be and only do what is needed to get by with a decent grade. The social cliques are established early on where everyone is experiencing what C. Wright Mills might call a trouble of finding themselves and fitting in. Sometimes they begin to deviate from any established role due to what they perceive as their self-image being tarnished.
As a teacher you have to learn the niches of each class and find a way to make the class a community despite differences.
Making the class a community will help to promote a positive self image for all students. A few techniques that could help to establish the community and aide the socialization process would be to set up Classroom Constitution of the rules and punishments, or to set up an anonymous concern box that would be discussed once per week. The classroom constitution is a way for the students to decide the rules and then you are able to hold them accountable for the rules they themselves created. The concern/comment box is a way for you to address in class situations or tensions without revealing who made a comment about the issue.
Establishing a class community and allowing the kids a forum to socialize freely and without discrimination is the part of all teachers’ jobs, and any teacher who does not do this is promoting the stereotyping and cliques, rather than finding a common ground to break down those boundaries.
I look forward to the day when I can implement these methods and create a place of learning that gives kids a voice, teaches them about democracy, and makes the job of teaching easier.