Classrooms Are Complex Environments

Leadership

In a single day the classroom teacher may participate in more than 1 000 interpersonal exchanges with students. Not only do teachers have numerous interactions with students, they must also interpret complex classroom behaviour on the spot. For the international school teacher, where their classroom’s are often a diverse mixture of cultural backgrounds, interpreting meaning becomes more challenging.

It is not surprising that most teachers are hard pressed to keep track of the number and the substance of contacts that they share with each pupil each day. Although it may not be important for a teacher to remember all classroom contacts; teachers must recall certain information (i.e. a student who has trouble with specific blend during reading, or understanding that the numeral 1 in the 10s column is ten and not one, etc) and then be able to act upon that specific information.

Because teachers constantly respond to the immediate needs of the students while they teach, they have little time during teaching to consider future planning for their class. This classroom preparation is completed outside school time, often unseen by the general parent population and reflects the complex events that occur within the classroom.

When teachers make decisions about the activity within their classrooms the following aspects of classroom settings must be taken into consideration.

  1. Many different tasks and events exist in the classroom. Records and schedules must be kept and work must be monitored, collected and evaluated. A single event can have multiple consequences.
  2. Many things happen at the same time in classrooms. During a discussion a teacher not only listens and helps improve students’ answers but also monitors students who do not respond for signs of comprehension and tries to keep the lesson moving at a good pace.
  3. The pace of classroom events is rapid. Research suggests that teachers evaluated pupil conduct in public on the average of 15.89 times per hour or 87 times per day or an estimated 16 000 times a year. Time is all too important and needs to be utilised carefully.
  4. While a teacher is thoroughly prepared for each day, often many events that occur are unanticipated. These include interruptions student behaviour, achievement levels and expectations. Furthermore, much of what happens to a student is seen by many other students as well and they make their own judgments. Student esteem is important and therefore decisions need to be consistent.
  5. Actions/,programmes and expectations all play a part in developing background for decision making. Research suggests that history often influences that way classrooms run. (We have all heard of the great class/ difficult class.)

Co-ordinating student learning and providing the opportunities to grow is a complex task. Parental support in providing information is always appreciated. Informed decision making is an ideal we strive for. To increase the positive aspects of schooling it is imperative that support for out teachers is publicly acclaimed.

Remember, self esteem of teachers is an important part of the education process. Be proud of them and offer them your support. They have your child’s interest in their hearts.

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