- In a survey of 528 educators, 41% say it is challenging or very challenging to make their students feel like they belong in the classroom, particularly when it comes to concerns students express that include their sexual orientation, gender, race, socioeconomic, ethnic, and disability identities, Education Week reported.
- The survey, conducted by the Education Week Research Center, also revealed that overwhelmingly, 80% of those surveyed said they thought a sense of belonging in the classroom is important for student success, highlighting how integral teachers are to building a positive learning environment and school culture.
- That said, 49% of the respondents said that when it comes to addressing the needs of students that are academically struggling, they find it difficult to find strategies that actually help them.
Classroom design and school culture play a significant role in whether students effectively engage with their learning environments. Education experts Eric C. Sheninger and Thomas C. Murray, who recently released their new book "Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools, Today," explain that 21st century learning needs require an entirely new paradigm of how teachers transfer knowledge to their students. The traditional classroom setting of neat rows of desks and standard teacher to student instruction is no longer engaging for a generation of students that are more creative and technologically entrenched. By the same token, teachers will not see their students remaining engaged in the classroom if students' individual needs are ignored, as increasingly the student body is becoming more and more gender, race, and economically diverse. Research shows that factors including student perceptions of the campus climate affect whether they develop the quality of grit — or passion and perseverance.
Research from Education Week narrows this idea down even further to the teacher level, showing that instructors are at the root of students' sense of belonging and desire for success. Administrators — particularly those in low-income schools with greater numbers of minority and high-risk students — should be aware that their faculty makes a difference in whether students are able to succeed, or even have the motivation to succeed.
Additional factors, such as lack of reading materials that reflect diversity, predominantly white teachers and small female representation in faculty can enhance or reinforce students' insecurities over their respective identities. Administrators can take steps to enhance student learning outcomes and passion for education generally by developing a more diverse faculty pool and encouraging their current educators to be think more considerably about unique backgrounds and experiences of their pupils. Teachers that don't encourage confidence beyond their students' insecurities run the risk of losing their attention altogether.