«Behavioral Dissonance and Contested Classroom Spaces: Teachers’ and Students’ Negotiations of Classroom Disciplinary Moments by Rebecca Neal A ...»
Keeping the research question for this study in mind (i.e., How does one’s conceptualizations of misbehavior account for the way classroom disciplinary moments are constructed, interpreted and negotiated between teachers and students?); it is necessary to move beyond deficit notions and deficit based thinking regarding Latino and African American male students. A small amount of attention was given in this study to the raced and gendered experiences of African American male and Latino students. This was not an omission or issue of neglect, but an act to analyze students and teachers conceptualizations of misbehavior. The study findings showed for whatever reason race and gender was attenuated for the participants in this study. This is not to suggest that race and gender do not matter or are not of significance; but simply an analysis of a single case of teachers’ and students’ conceptualizations involved in this study. Although not explicit in teachers’ and students’ thinking involved in study, the educational literature unmistakably provides clear evidence that African American students have raced and gendered experiences throughout all stages of their educational career (Howard, 2008; Jackson & Moore, 2008).
Mr. Abram’s problematic socially constructed identity of Byron, demands deeper attention to the raced and gendered experiences of African American male and Latino students should occur. Given the permanence of race, the Black student-White teacher binary, and the existence of racial microaggressions; critical race theory as an analytic tool in education is a recommended lens for understanding school discipline inequities.
As a framework, critical race theory assumes the permanence of racism, addresses the salience of microaggressions and views personal cultural knowledge as a strength (T.C.
Howard, personal communication, April 18, 2014; Solórzano, 1998; Solórzano, Ceja, & Yosso, 2000; Yosso, 2005). Because critical race theory draws on lived experiences, future research in the investigation of discipline inequities among African American male and Latino students should use such methods as family history, biographies, and counter narratives, wherein students (and teachers) can speak directly to any racial ramifications they thought pertinent.
Because critical race theory draws on lived experiences, future research in the investigation of discipline inequities among African American male and Latino students should include methods as family history, biographies, and counter narratives, wherein students (and teachers) can speak directly to any racial ramifications they thought pertinent. This would allow researchers to ask teachers and students how and to what extent race enters into the conversation and influences relational interactions in the classroom.
Researchers who study school discipline tend to use either a qualitative or quantitative approach toward understanding school discipline inequities. We know classroom disciplinary moments exist, but there needs to be a closer examination of disciplinary inequities that is beyond sanction patterns. Also, examinations of school discipline at the interactional level also allows for an investigation into the moment to moment occurrences of classroom disciplinary moments to determine the ‘how and why’ instead of the ‘whom, what, and how often.’ The probe needs to consider the quality of relational interactions that leads to classroom disciplinary moments. For those reasons studies that utilized a mixed methods approach would also allow for a deeper probe into the co-construction of classroom disciplinary moments.
Future research of classroom disciplinary moments should include explicit examples of race, social class, gender, sexual orientation, language, and other pertinent social psychological variables. In addition, improvements in video editing and the procedures for conducing video research in education are needed in future studies.
Because I sought to capture teachers’ and students’ perspectives of their self and one another meant that to capture teacher and student interaction it had to happen in the same frame equally privileging teachers and students. This was impossible without the use of multiple cameras. For these reasons, and to reduce the identification of focal students, at times the choice of where to place the camera was complicated. Future research would include a video team and the synching of multiple video and audio outlets.
To break new ground into teachers’ and students’ conceptualizations of misbehavior, we need to examine models that could better explain the social performance that are absent of stigmatizing labels. Siebers (2008) suggests that one needs to think with flexibility about those things that constitute an identity or group. We need to rethink what is social deviance. As a society we need to rethink ways schools can become places of social, emotional, and academic learning and positive change for all students.
Although the present study provided insights into the perspectives of students regarding misbehavior, it had several limitations that included sample size and location of the study being a small charter school in the southwestern United States. In addition, the students included in this study were only male and teacher participants were administratively nominated. Administrative nominations of teacher participants can be seen as a deliberate effort to include some teachers while excluding others.
Another limitation is that the focus of my analysis took place on the moment-tomoment level of interactions, privileging classroom interactions over institutional influences. I also had different roles at the school changing from volunteer, to substitute teacher, to researcher. The varying roles could have led to some confusion for the students regarding my purpose for being at IDA.
Implications for Studying Classroom Disciplinary Moments The study findings suggest there is a need to understand misbehavior from a situated perspective. If teachers were to have a situated perspective of classroom misbehavior, it would allow for the confrontation of classroom tension between teachers and students rather than to only interpret certain behaviors as misbehavior, but instead as a form of transformational resistance (Soloranzo & Bernal, 2001). Teachers can lead this makeover by (a) becoming socioculturally conscientious; (b) affirming perspectives and experiences of African American and Latino; (c) seeing themselves as responsible for and capable of spearheading changes required to make school disciplinary practices equitable, fair and just; (d) understanding how students from diverse back grounds construct knowledge; (e) believing students are capable of promoting knowledge construction and engaging in positive relational interactions; and (f) designing instruction and engaging in communicative acts that builds on students’ existing capital while stretching them beyond the familiar (Villegas & Lucas, 2002).
These changes will enable teachers to transcend traditional understandings of disproportionate disciplinary representation that simplistically blame either students or teachers and develop future pathways leading to teachers and students’ shared classroom success (Klingner et al., 2005). In addition, soliciting the opinions of students and engaging them in the new creation of school spaces that involves their insight is a critical component in reducing the representation of African American males and Latino students in school discipline. In this way, teachers can serve as a starting point for easing into a new conversation about the perception of student misbehavior among all learners, especially, African American male and Latino learners.
Teacher preparation should include training that prepares new and experienced teachers to become aware of their own contribution to classroom misbehavior. Training needs to include teachers becoming aware that many classroom disciplinary moments are birthed out of teacher and students interactions. The interpretations of these interactions play out in racial and ethnic, gender and sex, and the like. Teachers must be aware they have a role in the co-construction of classroom disciplinary moments. Training must also include teaching learning how their presence and behavior contributes to the production of behavior in the lives of the children they are working with in classrooms. In a nutshell, there are implications for teachers having an increased awareness, training in understand self-bias and perceptions, and self-monitoring of one’s own behavior and thinking.
Other implications include programs that teach how to manage student behaviors that cause discomfort or interpret as provoking. I would recommend preparation in the area of specific unlearning oppression models that strengthen alliances and work toward unarming racism and bias (Albrecht & Brewer, 1990; Anzaldúa, 1983; Kumashiro, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2010) and anit-opppressive education learning models (Ayers, et. al, 2010;
Kumashiro, 2009; Kumashiro & Ngo, 2007). With respect to understanding behaviors that appear aberrant, I would encourage programs and professional development trainings to include exposure to social psychological models (e.g. cool pose, stereotype threat, microaggresssion, racial battle fatigue, transformational resistance) used to explain education performance. Exposure to understanding the differences in self-expression could help to reduce teacher bias toward students.
Dispelling the myth that members of the same minority group represent a monolithic population, by showing that Mr. Abrahm and Ms. Esther had varying conceptualizations of misbehavior also has implications for how classroom misbehavior and classroom disciplinary moments are co-constructed within and across racial groups.
Even though I was not examining race, it played a pertinent role in teacher to student interactions and conceptualizations of misbehavior. Given that the social construction of race particularly for African American males and Latino students has been traditionally stigmatizing, implications for teacher preparation and professional development should include asking practitioners how and to what extent does race enter into the conversation.
In the findings, Mr. Abrahm at times embodied some of the negative baggage that surrounds certain students of color. This suggests clear racial implications. Questions to ask teachers should center on their racial notions of African American male and Latino students. Doing so would provide added insight into teachers’ conceptualizations of race and an opportunity to deconstruct potentially internalized notions of oppression.
Finally Bryk and Gomez (2008) suggest that larger societal problems play out over time and though people’s interactions with one another. Penuel, Fishman, and Cheng’s (2011) work on designed-based implementation research involves teachers examining records of their practice over time as an iterative form of professional development to improve practice. Similar approaches that examine student teacher interactions over time as an iterative form of their own development would also benefit teachers in learning how they come to understand student misbehaviors and deal with classroom disciplinary moments.
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