4. Learning from and with
During the first three
years of their career, beginning teachers need to gain knowledge of their
students and the school context and of how to design curriculum and instruction
that is responsive to both. More and more, gaining such knowledge requires
beginning teachers to develop connections to the communities in which
their students live. Students’ lives outside of school are inextricably
intertwined with their lives within schools. Teachers who become familiar
with the communities in which students’ live and learn, and who
develop strong relationships with people who live and work with young
people in those communities, can do a better job of teaching. Research
demonstrates the effectiveness of curricular approaches that use the community
as a resource for learning and that enable young people to become resources
for their communities.
While some communities
face severe challenges associated with poverty, all communities have organizations
and individuals with capacities that can be mobilized to support children’s
success in school and beyond. Community-based organizations in many of
our most challenged communities have made significant contributions to
young people’s learning and development. Compared to many typical
young people in the United States, those with high levels of participation
in community-based organizations were 26% more likely to be recognized
for good grades, more than twice as likely to view themselves as worthy
persons and more than two-and-one-half times more likely to express a
sense of civic responsibility and a desire to give back to their communities.
Beginning teachers can
structure their study groups around learning about and with the community.
The tools listed below will help you and your colleagues work with the
community to enrich your teaching and your students’ learning:
Also see the Engages
communities part of the In the Classroom section.
McLaughlin, M. (
2001). Community Counts. Educational Leadership, 58,7,14-18.
Conrad, D., & Hedin,
D. (1991). School-based community service: What we know from research
and theory. Phi Delta Kappan, June, 743-749.