Culture, Community, and Constructivism: Exploring the Elements of a Successful Classroom
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This work draws on personal experiences in classrooms in various international settings, literature review on best educational practices, and interviews with teachers to elicit key components of a culturally sustainable elementary classroom. I analyzed and compared in-formation gathered to determine whether there are universal elements contributing to a successful classroom environment that are applicable regardless of cultural context. There are many differing beliefs about how to best approach certain facets of the classroom, and I aim to outline what has been most effective based on commonalities between my observations, research, and collected data. Cultural practices of students must be included in the class-room, unique to each specific student body; teachers must draw on community and incorporate this as a resource in learning; and constructivist forms of knowledge should be utilized to provide each student with the opportunity to participate in the construction of their own knowledge based on prior experiences. In conducting my research, I drew on past interactive experiences working in elementary classrooms in the United States, South America, and the Caribbean. I developed further questions about certain practices I had observed and opted to interview two elementary teachers in a public school in Central Texas. I supplemented these ideas with published research from academic journals, and compiled my findings to comprehensively discuss the key components of a culturally relevant elementary classroom. My findings demonstrate that regardless of student population or classroom lo-cation, there are certain aspects that contribute to an effective classroom environment. I out-line three key concepts, culture, community, and constructivism, that teachers should strive to include in their classrooms to further promote the academic success of their students.