Giving your students Equal Classroom Opportunities is a powerful teaching strategy to adopt.
It simply means giving every student in the classroom a chance to be heard. When students are given equal opportunity, they build on their knowledge, demonstrate they have understood the curriculum, develop confidence, and apply the theory. It teaches students to think critically (Garside, 1996) and engage in dialogue with their classmates by providing informed arguments based on information retained.
According to Jane Nelsen and Kelly Gfroerer in an article titled, Contribution in the Classroom, students feel belonging (connection) and significance (capable) when they have opportunities to contribute.
Another article, Promoting Effective Classroom Participation by the University of Waterloo center for teaching excellence writes that classroom participation can result in insightful comments and interesting connections being made by students and can foster a high level of energy and enthusiasm in the classroom learning environment.
Should students be given equal opportunities to contribute their ideas in the classroom?
I strongly agree that students should be given the equal opportunity so as to create a learning environment where all students pose ideas, share ideas, and are explicitly welcomed to participate. When students are given a chance to contribute their ideas in the classroom, it improves their communication skills, makes them become critical thinkers, and is able to memorize less.
Some Hindrances to equal classroom opportunity
With so many positive benefits, there are also many factors that can hinder equality in the classroom. These include
- Classroom size: It might not be easy for a student coming from a learning environment where the number of students in the class isn’t much. He or she may have difficulty adapting to the new environment thus leading to being a passive learner.
- Fear: It can also be a fear of negative feedback. This can make the student develop low self-esteem or lack of confidence.
- Student preparation for class: When a student comes from the typical traditional learning environment, he or she might have difficulty getting used to the student-centered learning environment.
- Language barrier: If a student is not a native speaker of the language of instruction, it is usually difficult for the student to express himself or herself.
In Saudi Arabia where I have been an educator for more than 10 years, the above-mentioned factors can actually make a student become passive. This can be due to culture shock which plays a role in virtually everything.
Strategies that encourage equal classroom opportunity
As much as there are effects, there are also many things we can do to make it happen.
Cooperative learning strategy (Think-Pair-Share)
This cooperative learning strategy Think-Pair-Share is a way to encourage students to make equal contributions in the classroom. This approach gives all students the opportunity to have an equal chance at participating (even if they don’t want to). This strategy involves having students write their ideas down about a specific topic, pair up with a partner in class and discuss and compare their thoughts, then share their thoughts with the whole class.
Engage Students Equally
In order to engage all students equally, you must also vary your learning strategies. This means that you must incorporate active strategies that will reach all learners.
When a teacher establishes a classroom environment in a non-threatening way where students can be chosen to answer a question at any time, then the teacher has created a classroom of equality. The key to the success of this strategy is to make sure that students do not feel pressured or threatened to answer in any way, shape, or form.
Setting Classroom Norms
Finally, the most powerful teaching strategy in building an equitable learning environment is to establish a set of classroom norms. This means promoting acceptable behaviors like, “Everyone’s idea is important,” and “All ideas must be treated respectfully.” Teachers have the power to implement and cultivate a classroom of equality: A classroom that is free to share its values and opinions openly and honestly without feeling ridiculed or judged by its peers.
Promoting equal opportunities for students to contribute their ideas is a powerful strategy teachers should adopt.
Classroom size, fear of negative feedback, students’ preparation for a student-centered learning environment, and language barrier are the top factors that must be managed to eliminate hindrances.
To encourage this powerful teaching strategy for fostering equal classroom opportunity:
- Adopt a Cooperative learning strategy
- Engage Students Equally
- Set Classroom Norms
Go, teach, and bring change. I will be glad to learn of any contribution to classroom participation. You may wish to learn about 3 Effective Curriculum Types To Help You Plan And Teach
Should you want to know more as a teacher, feel free to Contact Me
Lecture slides: weeks 3 and 4
Foundations of Teaching for Learning: Curriculum
Offered By Commonwealth Education Trust
On CourseraStudent Engagement And Motivation Tips – HOW to engage your studentsBy needsfocusedteaching.com
Contribution in the Classroom
by Jane Nelsen and Kelly Gfroerer
Promoting Effective Classroom Participation
by University of Waterloo centre for teaching excellence
Pls, Note: This is an edited copy of an assignment I passed in a Coursera course.