EDU 6526: One Strategy to Promote Citizenship in the Classroom

H – Honor student diversity, development and their right to learn.

H3 – Honor the classroom/school community as a milieu for learning.
 Teacher candidates implement classroom/school centered instruction, including sheltered instruction that is connected to communities within the classroom and the school, and includes knowledge and skills for working with others.

Teachers are not only instructing students to achieve academic milestones to meet educational standards but are also enhancing the social and behavioral skills of students in order to live amongst others in a global society. The classroom serves as a miniature community of young citizens; people that practice learned skills in order to work together to develop strategies by learning to problem solve, communicate, play, and enjoy their education. There are many strategies that help promote citizenship in the classroom. One model of instruction that I’ve recently found to be underutilized in many classrooms is role-play. As described by Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun (2015), this model may be used to teach about interpersonal conflicts, intergroup relations, individual dilemmas, and historical or contemporary problems. This model of instruction shouldn’t be a primary focus in the classroom; there are many useful ways teachers may incorporate a civic education but this model can be utilized to teach about societal problems or even to resolve playground disputes.

Moreover, we live in a culture where interaction with others is not only a common occurrence but is also a necessity. Most of our students will progress on from their educations into careers and living situations where they will be required to communicate and interact with other people perhaps by problem solving, speaking publicly, working with teams of other individuals, or even shopping in a busy grocery store. Our students may also face dilemmas where they must choose to stand up for the rights of others or disregard these situations, weighing out their own moral philosophies. Within my own pedagogical thinking, I agree with Scheuerman (2014), that textbooks inform our students but do not shape their lives; it is the influences of those around them that help build their character. Our students should be provided opportunities throughout their educations to interact with their peers in the classroom; role-play is a strategy that teachers can use to help “…students increase their abilities to recognize their own and other people’s feelings, acquire new behaviors for handling previously difficult situations, and improve their problem-solving skills” (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 272). Figure 1 is an excellent informative model showing the simple effects of role-play, as Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun (2015) describe:

Role-playing is designed specifically to foster: (1) the analysis of personal values and behavior; (2) the development of strategies for solving interpersonal (and personal) problems; and (3) the development of empathy toward others. Its nurturants are the acquisition of information about social problems and values and comfort in expressing one’s opinions (p. 276).

Figure 1. Instructional and nurturant effects of the role-playing model (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015).

Figure 1. Instructional and nurturant effects of the role-playing model (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015).

There are many examples of activities that can be utilized to initiate role-play. Some may be: (1) a classroom store, where transaction disputes are resolved; (2) classroom plays where problems are introduced to child actors/actresses, acted out, and resolved but resolved without scripts; (3) settling classroom conflicts; (4) understanding global and community disputes by acting out both sides of the issue; (5) better understanding the characters in literary pieces by acting out the roles and feelings of these characters; (6) introducing classroom rules and expectations, having students model what kindness, responsibility, and respect is; or even perhaps (7) understanding the roles of different individuals in the school, and what they do to make the school society function, from the custodian to the principal. This model of teaching is interesting and proven to be effective; I myself plan to implement this when appropriate when lesson planning. While this model is effective, teachers should take care when initiating this to ensure that all students are comfortable and feel safe in the classroom. Role-play may also push students outside of their comfort zones therefore effective communication and support is necessary to facilitate that this model does not in fact also spiral into a negative experience for some students.

References:

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Scheuerman, R. (2014). Session 6: Values and citizenship. Personal Collection of (Scheuerman, R.), Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA. Podcast retrieved from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/webapps/blackboard/execute/content/file?cmd=view&content_id=_1031334_1&course_id=_84477_1

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