Her teachers are warm and supporting so she fells

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Unformatted text preview: happy and contented when adults praise and support her. Her teachers are warm and supporting, so she fells happy when she talks or thinks about school. 10 • Sarah was in two plays in elementary school, and in both cases she forgot her lines on stage. This made her feel anxious and embarrassed. Now any request that she participate in a play makes her feel anxious. • When Mr., Joseph was in high school he got into a lot of trouble and did poorly. Eventually, he felt so uncomfortable in school that he quit coming. Today as a parent coming back for a parent conference, just the sight of the school building makes him feel uncomfortable. Classical conditioning can also explain how we implicitly learn certain attitudes (Houwer, Thomas, & Baeyens, 2001; Olson & Fazio, 2002). From a classical conditioning perspective, if people or items are paired with other stimuli that produce positive or negative emotional responses, those people or items eventually can produce the same emotional responses. Advertisements make use of this by pairing products with stimuli that elicit positive emotions such as physically attractive and/or popular people. Negative racial or gender attitudes could be acquired implicitly if members of a race or gender are associated with images or words that produce negative emotional reactions. This possibility means that curricular materials need to be evaluated carefully so that students are not exposed to these types of negative associations. This idea that school can become connected to stimuli that produce strong emotions or attitudes in students is important. It reminds us that we can unintentionally produce attitudes or emotional associations for school that we do 11 not want our students to learn. This type of awareness may be particularly important for students whose life experiences are quite different from those provided by school. Think about coming to a new place where a different language is spoken, customs are unfamiliar, and maybe even the food served at lunch makes you feel nauseous. The negative feelings that these experiences create could easily become associated with school, creating negative feelings about school. As a teacher, you may be able to reduce this possibility by helping all students feel supported and welcome. For example, you could create classrooms and schools where students’ various home cultures are clearly visible. You could assign other students to serve as guides and interpreters, or you could help students quickly acquire functional vocabulary in English such as the word bathroom. Here are some more recommendations based on classical conditioning for creating a classroom environment that reduces the likelihood that students will associate anxiety and discomfort with your classroom. • Emphasize improvement rather than perfection. Let students know that mistakes are a natural part of learning. • Provide opportunities for students to re-do assignments that are difficult for them. • Maintain an orderly and predicta...
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