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Katja Kleyensteuber

Make A Connection Paper – EDUC 701

As teachers, it is our responsibility to foster student learning by developing

classroom communities in which students are encouraged to build understanding

together. This understanding is built through collaboration in areas of similar

interests and through the cultural connection of students to the world outside of the

classroom. A successful classroom community does not separate the classroom from

real-life, but instead instills a sense of belonging in students and encourages them to

use their cultural identity in developing academically. While students with similar

interests can work together to learn in a classroom community, students with

different abilities in the community are also able to work together by learning from

students who understand or by helping teach students that do not understand

(Rogoff, 2001, pg. 232).

In extending Rogoff’s idea, the only way to create a successful community of

learners is to connect the community we create in the classroom to the community

our students are members of outside of school. The classroom community and our

cultural communities should not be treated as separate entities, but as compliments

of one another because “all communication, and social life in general, is educative”

(Dewey, 1916, p. 6). We can foster student learning through community settings

that encourage effective communication and build confidence through the

incorporation of previous knowledge, cultural background, and a sense of belonging.

When students feel like they are a part of a community, they are more likely to

contribute to the learning that happens in that community (in and out of school),

which can benefit everyone.


Understanding and collaboration in communities of learners can only be

accomplished through successful communication and connection. Including children

in classroom communities, as well as outside communities, lets them know that they

are a part of something and that their input is respected (Rogoff, pg. 64). Any

classroom that encourages student support of one another, peer interaction, group

work, and quality, caring interaction that is demonstrated daily by the teacher (and

other adults), is a classroom that encourages the development of positive

communication skills that can lead to confidence (of identity and ability) and

understanding for students in all communities. When we embrace the use of our

cultural backgrounds and individual identities, rather than shutting these parts out

of the classroom, everyone is more likely to feel comfortable, confident, and

connected in the community of learners they belong to.

A community is built through the relationships among people that are based

on common endeavors (Rogoff, pg. 10). In order to build a strong community of

learners, you need students to work together in areas of similar interests. Often, the

similar interests among students (and adults) have something to do with the

community they are a part of outside of school. By having students work in

community-based activities, they are working towards understanding together –

and students are able to contribute by drawing on their personal identities and

experiences. This individual contribution to their learning community not only helps

them develop individually, but also helps the community build understanding

together, as a whole. “Diversity is not a problem to be solved,” but instead a

pedagogical asset (Nasir, 2014, pg. 699), and we should take advantage of this, as
well as the individual strengths and weaknesses of our students, and the benefits

that learning together can bring.

References

Dewey, John. (1916). Democracy and Education. New York: The Macmillan Co.

Nasir, Rosebury, Waren, & Lee. (2014) Ch. 34 - Learning as a Cultural Process:
Achieving Equity through Diversity. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Rogoff, B., Turkanis, C.G., & Bartlett, L. (2001). Learning Together. New York: Oxford
University Press.