The problem of academic achievement differences between students from low-income homes or minority backgrounds and students from high-income home or nonminor backgrounds has become acute. It is essential to come up with a possible solution and plan that the appointed School Improvement Plan (SIP) team will provide and implement. A plethora of modern studies indicates the mentioned issue crucial, which implies the relevance of all appropriate ideas in this vein. It might be assumed that among these ideas, the one of delegating more resources, power, and capabilities to teachers within the scope of improving relationships between schoolmates and academic performance seems significant. Below, the essence of the problem, as well as the possible approach to overcome it, will be given.
The Identified Challenge
As mentioned above, the challenge of academic achievement disparities, which is considerably affected by the social and economic background of a student, seems to be pressing. Many recent investigations support the latter claim, as well as emphasize the importance of the resolution of this problem (Henry et al., 2017; Reardon & Portilla, 2016). Among notable factors that lead to such state of the art, these investigations identify the pressure that is put on low-income or minorities’ students by their “more noble” colleagues. The latter tend to oppress – both intentionally and unintentionally – the former ones by possessing a better social status. This contributes to the substantial pressure between schoolmates’ relations and an unhealthy learning atmosphere – it is hard to focus on the proper aspects of studying. In contrast, the mentioned atmosphere should serve as a foundation for the excellent academic achievements of pupils at schools. The following section aims to suggest a good option to solve the issue expediently.
Essence and Importance of Making Change
The goal of the modern school is personal growth as the development of the value relationships of the individual with people as a process of a person’s gradual entry into the world, defining oneself in the universe, and searching for the meaning of life. The implementation of the intended goal of education requires a specially organized educational environment that projects multidimensional and multilevel forms of relationships, the interaction between adults and children, stimulates the child’s activity, and allows students to develop the key competencies necessary for joint activities. From the arguments given in the previous section, social tension among schoolmates hinders the described scenario.
According to the research of many scientists, the children’s collective can act as an environment that sets values, attitudes, norms, and rules of social behavior. It forms ideas about ways to enter the world and interact in it, stimulating the positive social development of the student’s personality (Elledge et al., 2016). In this collective, the child tries his or her hand, realizes his potential, acquires a positive social experience. Only in the children’s interactions are these processes specially designed and organized by the teacher. The more united children’s relationships are, the more influence it has on the development of the ones involved.
The modern junior schoolchild grows up in a multidimensional, multifunctional society divided into different strata. When modeling an educational environment that creates the necessary conditions for achieving the goal of education, it is important to take into account the age characteristics of schoolchildren (van Tetering, 2017). The significance of environmental factors, the strength of their influence on the personality depends on this factor.
Psychologists note such features of a modern primary school student as the discrepancy between the levels of physical and social development; lack of understanding with adults and alienation from adults; self-sufficiency and orientation towards self-development; striving for individualism and changing the perception of the world (new symbols, ideas, associations); virtualization of consciousness and construction of one’s own reality (Reardon & Portilla, 2016). The information that the child possesses does not always correspond to the level of development of his consciousness and moral sphere. The improvement of the intellectual sphere does not lead to the development of the spiritual and moral sphere, as well as of social interaction. Given the identified challenge, it is crucial to appropriately deal with social pressure that negatively affects academic achievements.
At this point, the significance of an educator seems to be apparent, and the overcoming of the identified issue should be founded on this claim. The organizer of the children’s collective of younger students is a teacher. The basis of his or her professional activity is the ability to interact with the child and the children’s team. The class teacher uses different methods to unite them. It is important to ensure that friendly relations are established between classmates, common goals appear, and collective thinking is formed. This will reduce the extent to which societal pressure is put on children from low-income or minority families.
In a playful way, teachers will organize events for calendar holidays or arrange team games. In the game, the younger students will try on social roles and will be included in the system of societal relations. In team competitions, the child understands the significance of each player and the responsibility for the result. If the class is sports and most children love sports, then sports games and competitions will work great. Children who do not like to run or for health reasons are unable to do it, together with the teacher, can prepare posters and chants to support their team.
Taking into account the individual characteristics of children, the teacher creates situations of success. In joint activities, the traditions of the class are defined as stable forms of collective life. They help to develop general norms of behavior, emotionally embody the standards and desires of children, and develop collective experiences. Traditions can be: joint visits to theaters and museums, celebrating the birthday of the class, participating in social events, volunteering, etc. The described approach may lead to the children’s perception of themselves as equal to each other, given continuous activities in which everyone participates – this is the primary goal of the change. Among other opportunities in this regard might be the distinguishing of the schoolchildren’s hidden talents and the establishment of a significant reputation of the educational institution that encourages children to develop and progress in all spheres. However, the crucial threat here might be considerable expenses on the organization of the joint activities.
A number of studies have proved the importance and the necessity of similar approaches. Through various perspectives – starting from sports (Ramirez-Granizo et al., 2020) and ending with emotional engagement (Rushton et al., 2019) – teachers’ role and joint activities of school children show excellent results. Students demonstrate better social interactions, and the overall educational atmosphere improves. Moreover, teacher-student relations are the basis for notable academic achievements (Rucinski et al., 2018), which, again, implies the appropriacy of the described change. The provided rationale in the framework of this change’s implementation – taking into account both the explored investigations and threats – allows stating that the projected success is 85%.
Key stakeholders will be the schoolchildren, who will start being in a healthy social and learning atmosphere, and the educational establishment, pupils of which will demonstrate better academic performance generally. However, the critical issue threat here might take place – there may be the resistance of children from high-income or nonminority families to such joint activities as they may consider themselves “better than this.” This may be resolved by contacting parents who will explain to such “resistant” children the appropriateness of these activities.
In order to implement joint occasions, teachers will be provided with many resources to deliver the importance of the latter. There will be some extra distant classes via Google Classroom that will give information on the upcoming joint events. Collecting and providing feedback will be a great foundation for communication and encouragement. An intense implementation of these collaborative activities will take place for six months, after which academic achievements will be evaluated. Teachers will continuously attend some extra courses on children’s interaction improvement, which will ensure the sustainability of the plan because they are a crucial element of the change that will guide the students. Finally, whatever costs will be required, they will be reasonable – to an exact extent – because improved academic performance will result in increased investments to various initiatives further, given the met goals of the educational system.
Link with the District’s SIP
The main aim of the change is to improve the social relations among the pupils. As discussed above, this will neutralize the academic achievement disparities between students from low-income homes or minority backgrounds and students from high-income homes or nonminor grounds. This is the guiding goal of the District’s SIP, which indicates an absolute alliance between the latter and the suggested plan.
The above advocacy discussion focuses on the issue that the District aspires to address. The emphasis is on the improvement of social relations between the distinctive groups of students, which is assumed to ameliorate the overall learning environment. It is claimed that the projected success is 85%, given the research and threats.
Henry, L. M., Bryan, J., & Zalaquett, C. P. (2017). The effects of a counselor‐led, faith‐based, school–family–community partnership on student achievement in a high‐poverty urban elementary school. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 45(3), 162–182.
Ramirez-Granizo, I. A., Sánchez-Zafra, M., Zurita-Ortega, F., Puertas-Molero, P., González-Valero, G., & Ubago-Jiménez, J. L. (2020). Multidimensional self-concept depending on levels of resilience and the motivational climate directed towards sport in schoolchildren. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(2). Web.
Reardon, S. F., & Portilla, X. A. (2016). Recent trends in income, racial, and ethnic school readiness gaps at kindergarten entry. AERA, 2(3). Web.
Rucinski, C. L., Brown, J. L., & Downer, J. T. (2018). Teacher–child relationships, classroom climate, and children’s social-emotional and academic development. Journal of Educational Psychology, 110(7), 992–1004.
Rushton, S., Giallo, R., & Efron, D. (2019). ADHD and emotional engagement with school in the primary years: Investigating the role of student–teacher relationships. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(S1), 193–209.
van Tetering M. A. J. & Jolles, J. (2017). Teacher evaluations of executive functioning in schoolchildren aged 9–12 and the influence of age, sex, level of parental education. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(481). Web.