How do I engage in classroom interactions & dynamics?
The previous engagements have introduced:
- The idea of ‘contexts within contexts’
- How this relates to the concept of positionality
- An intersectional lens as a tool for analysing how certain identities experience exclusion produced by particular social dynamics
As a reminder, meta refers to the global context, macro encompasses the societal landscape, meso describes the institutional level of higher education, and micro indicates the classroom environment. One of the main observations was how different contexts overlap, producing the social dynamics that are present in a digital classroom environment. The virtual classroom context then is not neutral to the outside contexts, but rather partially a result of them.
This engagement will allow you to reflect on your perspective of interactions between individuals and contexts. Before looking at concrete instances of such interactions, it is useful to expand on the micro context and what it exactly entails.
The micro level encompasses the online classroom environment, including students and teachers. Online classrooms are embedded in educational institutions, shaped by the society they reside in, and affected by global events. Some influences are less visibly present in an online classroom than in a conventional one, but manifest through the perspectives and experiences of everyone present in the online setting. Think of the interactions between students and teachers, but also their diverse lived experiences, abilities, degrees of academic preparation, levels of performance, personal expectations, different motivations, financial risk of pursuing an education, access to pertinent information, and many other factors. While a teacher is obliged to practice their vocation in accordance with the institutional policies, the online classroom remains a domain where teachers make decisions at their discretion which have a profound impact on the experience of their students. Online classroom management is thus an important determinant of the classroom environment and can be defined as the actions of teachers that serve to create and maintain a virtual environment for effective learning where students’ social and emotional needs are met. This cannot be separated from the regulations and norms in the educational system and institution, included the unwritten norms, such as those about what is good teaching, what is academic communication, what is talent, what is good participation, what makes a good teacher, what makes a good student – all aspects of what is called the hidden curriculum: unspoken, unwritten, and unofficial lessons that students (unintentionally) learn in school. It then becomes important for teachers to be aware of how far their agency and power to shape the experience of their students extends. More concretely, it requires teachers to be aware of what actions and dynamics lead to inclusive or exclusive online learning environments.