Teachers need to be in tune with their students, they have to be able to relate to them at an age appropriate level. Understanding the stages of social development, and the particulars relevant to each of those stages, plays a large role in how a teacher interacts with students, relates the material to them, and evaluates them. Teachers of children in pre-school up through second grade spend nearly as much time teaching about social behavior and social interaction as they do lessons. The social environment of a classroom is new to some of the children which requires a teacher to foster a child’s sense of control over their environment in this explorative stage. Teachers of these younger children know that they need activities to funnel their energy, but also youngsters learn better, faster and more enjoyably when it’s more physical. Teachers of pre-school through second graders must learn to instinctively give praise or reward as well as admonishment immediately for the attention spans of these youngsters is short, and their memory needs constant and immediate reinforcement.
Children in grades three through five are realizing others are just as important as they are. Classroom cooperation and group projects go a long way to helping students manage social and academic demands of a more structured curriculum. Teachers of these young students are transitioning minds from basic tasks and memorization skills to organizing thoughts and understanding the fundamentals of the material presented, the beginning of the what, why, and how’s. Teachers of grades three through five find that their students really respond to awards and rewards. These students need to feel socially accepted and admired so by ‘explicitly identifying things the recipient has done especially well’ (Ormond, 2011, pg 298) they gain a sense of pride which fosters full classroom excitement and performance. Teachers have an interesting struggle with students and rules in grades six through eighth. As (Ormond, 2011, pg 91) puts it students have a ‘growing awareness that some rules and conventions are arbitrary’.
Students are often in the testing stage here, what if I don’t do my homework, what if I don’t want to do that in Gym, and so on. Teachers need to foster a sense of capability, accomplishment, and competence in students during these years in order for students to have a strong foundation that will provide confidence in high school. These students are in the process of gaining an increased understanding of other students and of society as a whole. Teachers of six through eighth graders have the biggest challenge of explaining the who, what, where, why, and how’s to their students. The classroom is filled with inquisitive and sharp minds that need to know and understand the deeper level of lessons and the world for the first time, enough to justify the material in their heads.
Teachers also need to be aware of cliques and trends amongst the students at this age, these will drive, uniformly or unilaterally, performance in either direction, as well as level the academic performance for the pack. Individual achievement suffers as independence diminishes. Teachers need to open horizons and enlighten the extremely spongy brains of high schoolers. While exploring all the moral issues in science, social studies and hopefully literature, they must tread correctly in the over heightened politically correct society of today. High school students understanding of other people, society as a whole and social development is relatively sophisticated, and teachers must treat it as such, and respond accordingly.
Teachers of these young adults are challenged every day to present material in a way that will reach them, social trends move quickly, teens are forming their personal identities, classroom control and connection are essential. Teachers who do it right in high school engage students, plant the seeds of thought, and challenge students.
They know it’s not about cramming the material down their throats. It’s about taking them on a journey where they have to fill in the blanks, figure out the what, why, and how’s, and discover the solutions. School as a whole, not just teachers or administration or other students, plays a critical role in a child’s social development. Even when a student is enjoying social interaction and involvement, and or having academic success their attitude and personality will be a direct reflection of their social success.
Ormond, J. (2011). Educational psychology: Developing learners. (Seven ed., p. 91, 298). Allyn & Bacon