The Teacher as How can you create an engaging classroom? Convince students first that you care — and then that you'll never let up, Elizabeth Bondy and Dorene D. Ross Consider this comment that a beginning teacher in an urban school recently made to us: They are calling one another names and being really catty, and it wears me out. 1 mean, as soon as they walk in the door, someone is pushing ... or calling someone a name. So it's 8:00 in the morning, and 1 am already ilustercd- Many teachers in high-poverty schools struggle to establish a positive classroom environment. These teachers know a great deal about iheir students, feel affection for them, and empathize with their struggles. Unfortunately, the way these teachers act on their caring is often not comprehensive enough to make a difference. The teachers work hard to design interesting lessons, but if students are disengaged, the quaiity of the lessons will be irrelevant and misbehavior w\\\ reveal students' underlying resistance. What is missing is not skill in lesson planning, but a teacher stance that communicates both warmth and a nonnegotiable demand for student effort and mutual respect. This stance—often called the warm demander —is central to sustaining academic engagement in high-poverty schools. The stakes are high when it comes to engagement. Studies have amply demonstrated a link between achievement and academic engagement, defined by Furrer and Skinner (2003) as "active, goal-directed, flexible, constructive, persistent, and focused interactions" with academic tasks (p. 149). The consequences of disengagement are more serious for low-income students: When students from advantaged backgrounds become disengaged, they may learn less than they could, but they usually get by or they get second chances .... In contrast, when smdents ... in high-poverty, urban high schools become disengaged, they are less likely to graduate and consequently face severely limited opportunities ... [including] unemployment, poverty, poor health, and involvement in the criminal justice system. (National Research Council, 2004, p. 0 The good news is that although engagement is affected by students' economic and social conditions, teachers can organize the classroom in ways that dramatically increase student engagement. 54 EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP/SEPTEMHER 2008
Warm Demander What Is a Warm Demander? Klcinleld (197^) coined ihe phrase warm demander to describe the type of teacher who was effective in teaching Athabaskan Indian and Eskimo 9th graders in Alaskan schools. These leachers communicated personal warmth and used an instructional style Kleinfeld called "active demanding- ncss." They insisted that students perform to a high level. Ir\'me and Fraser (1998) provide an example of how a teacher using this style might speak to a student who is slacking off: That's enough of your nonsense, Darius. Your story does not make sense, I told you time and time again that you must stick to the theme I gave you. Novi- sit down. (p. 56) This kind ol communication is seldom described in the effect ive-teach ing literature. Scholars who have investigated
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- Spring '17
- Michael Allen
- Dorene D. Ross, Elizabeth Bondy