Developing Collective Classroom Efficacy: The Teacher’s Role as Community Organizer

Feb. 01, 2011

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, 62(1), p. 93-105. (January/February, 2011).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors were interested to examine collective efficacy in the classroom by using Vygotsky's view.

Vygotsky advocated for the role of the teacher to be one of instructional guide in a classroom in which the teacher and students are active with one another through the curriculum (Vygotsky, 1997).

The authors' purpose was to illustrate ways in which the classroom teacher becomes classroom community organizer, especially as relating to the development of collective classroom efficacy.

The authors addressed to the following research question: how does collective classroom efficacy develop with the teacher as classroom community organizer and students as local leaders?

The data for this exploration were collected from an extensive ethnographic data set from one teacher’s fifth-grade classroom over four years.
The classroom in which this study took place was in an elementary (K–5) public school in partnership with, and located at, an urban university in the southwestern United States.

The teacher in this classroom, Ms. Falls, had more than 10 years of experience in urban elementary classroom settings and was well known by her colleagues as a teacher who incorporated inclusive practices with excellent classroom management techniques.

Discussion and Implications

The findings reveal that that Ms. Falls commonly established a social structure through the norms and work ethic rubric in which students made responsible choices about how they would work to become productive classroom citizens.

Furthermore, the students themselves offered specific and productive input and encouraged the group to work together and try again to improve on their presentation so that all could be successful.
The feedback from the other class members provides further evidence of the developing self-directed classroom collective.
This collaborative effort suggests that students were likely to be focused on the academic success of the entire class since they strongly encouraged their peers to achieve the academic goal of the collective.

The authors conclude that the teacher fostered capabilities of the members by promoting self-worth and dignity through the use of the classroom norms.
Furthermore, the teacher actively encouraged the students to take intelligent risks as they worked to achieve their academic and interpersonal goals, which has been established as a cornerstone of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997).

The students took on the role of uniting the collective for a common cause of encouraging autonomy, respect, and academic accountability. The students do so as they work together to construct common knowledge in the intersubjective public classroom space and to set and achieve academic goals.

The authors suggest some ways in which teachers can serve as community organizers in pursuit of collective classroom efficacy include encouraging informed risk taking.

The authors propose that teachers should (a) create a sense of belonging,
(b) set and work toward personal and academic goal attainment,
(c) take responsibility for self and others’ learning, and
(d) believe in individual and collective capabilities.

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman & Co.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1997). Educational psychology (R. Silverman, Trans.). Boca Raton, FL: St. Lucie Press

Updated: Sep. 13, 2012