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Statement of Informed Beliefs Essay

JD Tarbet

Carol Billing

EDUC 204 Families, Communities, & Culture

Fall 2016


When it comes to the education of a child and a student, there are a lot of factors to take

into consideration. We must worry about how the child is interacting with his or her family, how

theyre interacting with their peers, and most of all, how they interact with their teachers. This all

varies from student to student. One student may rely more heavily on their teacher for support,

while another only needs to be left alone long enough to accomplish what they need to learn.

Another student may require more from their teacher than just a simple lesson. If the students

life at home isnt enough for them to garner a proper education, they may rely on their teacher

more to fill the need to learn. As teachers, we must learn to deal with this and alter what needs to

be changed from student to student. It all depends on how the student interacts with the world

and those around them, as it says in the Child, Family, School, Community, textbook, many

forces in society contribute to childrens development as do the children themselves (Berns,

6). Children are like sponges, in that they absorb many of aspects of culture indiscriminately, and

it all affects their upbringing.

As I grew up, the classes I tended to think more fondly of and remembered learning the

most from were the ones where the teacher created a forum like environment. Whether it was a

class discussion to get everyone involved, or the teacher presented the information we needed

then allowed us to work and converse with our peers, those were the classes that felt more

effective to me. And while not every student will succeed in a scenario like this, I believe it also

allows students in need to ask their peers, or even give them an opportunity to approach the

teacher on their own. This is the format of classroom I would like to utilize when I teach. I

believe it would allow the students who dont need the help to work at their own pace, while the

students who need one-on-one time rather than a lecture amidst a crowd of other students may

approach me for assistance or more information. While I understand that I would be just one

entity in a room filled with students, and not each one would be able to get the one-on-one time,

not every student would need it. It also would give the student an experience when it comes to

self-regulatory behavior. Its easy for a student to slack off when they know a teacher or

authoritative figure will cattle prod them into doing what needs done. Allowing the students the

freedom to work individually or as a group lets them learn that they have to take responsibility

and an adult figure isnt always going to be hovering over them to make sure they get done what

is needed. As the book states, Regulated behavior often involves postponing or modifying

immediate gratification for the sake of a future goal (Berns, 45). Part of my goals in teaching

this way is also for the student to learn self-sufficiency and restraint. In those classes I had as a

student, there were plenty of students, myself included, who took the time as a relaxation period

rather than getting to work. However, when the realization that failure was imminent if behavior

adjustment wasnt enacted, the students, and again myself, were quick to change or failed. Either

way, a lesson was learned that self-reliance was an important part of life.

This doesnt mean I will be 100% hands-off. I will use this free time to approach

students who need help, or talk to those who seem to be falling behind and help them adjust what

they need so they can learn and become effective. If a student appears to be falling behind or

struggling with a subject and hasnt approached me, I will also use the time in-class to approach

them, or attempt time outside of class so that they can get the help they need. This will also allow

me extra time to go over subjects the class may be struggling with. If a majority, or large portion

of the class is having issues in class, while I may cut back on the free time, the students may

not need it if they are struggling individually, so bringing them in as a group may be more


I believe a teachers expectations can influence a students ability to learn in a multitude

of ways. For instance, if student can tell the teacher has little to no faith in them, they wont try

because they dont perceive the lessons to be important. Second, as an instructor, its hard to try

and put forth the effort with a student when you yourself dont see it being fruitful. Like all

things, teaching a student is a project or work. Its hard to put in the work necessary when the

outcome isnt going to be what you hoped for, or in this case, when the outcome isnt believed to

be the most desired result. The book states this with in a longitudinal study of more than 1,500

middle school students whose teachers predicted their performance in math, there was a greater

impact on future math achievement for low achievers, whose performance was overestimated,

than for high achievers, whose performance was underestimated (Berns, 245). This emulates

some of my own experiences. I was always a middle-of-the-road student. Not quite in need of

remediation, but never overachieving either. I had a class in late elementary school where the

teacher thought I wasnt that bright of a child, and I suffered in the class for it. Looking back, I

didnt think of it as giving up, but now I realize I didnt put out the effort required to succeed

because I knew it wasnt enough to meet my teachers expectations. The same could be said

throughout my middle school years.

The expectations sentiment can also be applied to educational goals. All throughout high

school, I didnt know what I wanted to do with my life. I never gave it any thought. I always

figured I would discover that once I knew a bit more about myself than I did at the time. Until

that point, I just wanted to do enough to get by, and spend the last few years of childhood

spending time with my friends and doing exciting things while I still could. This was apparent if

one would only look at my report cards and grades. I never completely failed, but I never got

straight As. I didnt have an educational goal, so I just skated by. While I dont believe all kids

should go through with goals of being 4.0 honor roll students, but a goal helps. It keeps the child

focused and lets them see a linear path of progress. It also affects how a teacher will perceive the

child and adjust their expectations. If a teacher can look back and see some form of progress, or

see a defined goal the student is working towards, the teacher will adjust their expectations

towards that student, or as the book states, some teachers do not form expectations that continue

throughout the year; rather, they change their expectations on the basis of the students

performance (Berns, 245).

When it comes to a students learning and how its influenced by their social ecology and

vice versa, its important to stress their importance. As children grow up, theyre going to learn

what it takes to interact with their peers, as well as the importance of intellectual thought when

making such connections. Part of their upbringing is that humans are a very social species.

Rarely can we function without any interaction from another person or a group. As such, its

naturally wired into our systems to seek human interacting and make social connections. As the

book states, by interacting socially with others, we derive an opinion of ourselves (Berns, 282).

This means that not only do we depend on social interactions for survival, we utilize them as a

means of building up our own character. This includes a childs education. If a child surrounds

their self with peers that dont focus on school work, or dont value intellectual thought, they

wont find the importance of intellectual stimulation, and vice versa. I had a friend throughout

my childhood, and I consider him one of the better friends I had, but we were on two completely

different levels intellectually. While I was attending higher grade classes of learning, he was still

in remedial courses. While I still consider him a good friend, growing up, we just fell apart and

didnt spend as much time together as we once did, as well as joined separate social circles.

This friends social group in secondary schooling is the perfect example of his emotional

development. Some of the kids he hung with werent exactly the most level headed of people and

as such, he developed emotional issues and got into trouble quite often. Peer groups have

certain norms for behavior, sometimes positive and sometimes negative (exclusion of some

children or rebelliousness, for example) (Berns, 287). My friend was exactly like this. When he

was with his group of friends and I would reach out, the response would be mixed at times.

Sometimes, he would greet me as he did when we were children, and others, I was the nerdy

dweeb to pick on. He also got into trouble with teachers and other figures of authority because

the group was into nefarious things.

Families, I think, are the most important part when it comes to the beginning of a childs

learning, as well as how they react to fellow students and peers, as well as their community and

the culture of the family. If a child grows up in family that doesnt value education, the child

wont find the importance of learning. The same goes to how they interact with their peers and

authority figures. Depending on a parents parenting style, they will either treat their fellows or

other authority figures with respect, or disrespect, depending on how theyre raised as a child.

Its easiest for students to learn something new when they can attach it somehow to either

known experiences, or connections to other aspects of their lives. For instance, history. A lot of

students either learn and keep interested in history that they have an interest in already, or it

relates to their life in some other aspect. When it comes to my math classes, it just depends on

the demographics in the classes Im teaching. Where I grew up, it was a very rural, agriculturally

and mining oriented community, so my teachers implemented a lot of that into their lessons.

Math courses and story problems revolved around various forms of calculating livestock and

their value, as well as crops and problems relating to oilfield work. I would try to do similarly,

depending on where Im at. It was also a blend of White and Indian populations, so the history

focused on the interactions of the two groups of that region. As for how Ill adapt it to Math, Im

not sure. Theres only so much you can do culturally when it comes to Find X. This also deals

with outside cultures as well, or students of minority groups that are also trying connect the dots

with the subject.

Cultural assimilation is an act in which a group in a minority culture takes on attributes of

the dominate culture, i.e. how the Indian cultures today act more in line with European cultures

than they do their original indigenous culture, or as the book states, the process whereby a

minority cultural group takes on the characteristics of the majority cultural group (Berns, 212).

Cultural pluralism, on the other hand, is more where cultures, both dominant and subordinate,

live together and maintain their individual cultures, mutual appreciation and understanding of

various cultures and coexistence in society of different languages, religious beliefs, and

lifestyles (Berns, 212). Personally, the best form of cultural interaction, in my opinion, is the

melting pot belief, where the idea that society should socialize diverse groups to blend into a

common culture (Berns, 212). I think this is best because it gives the two cultures to ditch the

parts that arent as great of both to form one better culture that flourishes with new and fresh

ideas and beliefs to build off one another, which is similar to why the U.S. is called the melting

pot. We all hail from different ethnic and cultural groups that blended into one group of all


My hope as a teacher is to be open and warm to my students, keeping the air in the

classroom one of understanding. As the text states, Studies have found that successful or

effective teachers are those who are warm, enthusiastic and generous with praise, and have high

status (Berns, 241). In our school district when I was in the 5th grade, we had two teachers.

Wed spend the morning with one teacher for subjects they were specialized in, then would

switch with the other teacher in the afternoon to cover the other subjects. These teachers were

polar opposites. The one in the morning, I absolutely despised, but thats because she held her

praise to not only students who succeeded, but to those who were prodigal children. She held

high standards of her students, and if you didnt match up to them, she was cold and uncaring.

The other teacher knew that not everyone was the same, and some struggled while the rest

excelled. It was this that caused him to be more forgiving with his students, but that didnt stop

him from being harsh and critical when it came time to, nor did he slack when it came to

teaching his subjects. Its because of this that I think back more fondly on him than I do his

counterpart, and hope to emulate him more than I do her.

Assessment of a student and class isnt just for the students, but to let the teacher know

where the class is and how much they understand the material. If the class isnt keeping up with

the lessons, theres no sense in the teacher rushing ahead to teach further. The teacher may need

to adjust how theyre presenting the material, or just go over it again to cover any questions the

students may have. Teachers usually receive data about students at the beginning of the school

year, which influence their expectations of students for achievement and behavior (Berns, 245).

The book states this to demonstrate that assessments of a student will adjust the teachers

expectations, which includes how they are to be taught.

As teachers, we must do a lot to better our students, and ourselves. Children arent the

only ones learning in the classroom. A teacher must learn and adapt to be able to reach his or her

kids. Otherwise, the exchange of ideas and learning and free thinking stagnates and dies.

Works Cited
Berns, Roberta M. Child, Family, School, Community: Socialization and Support.
Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2016, 2013.