Risk and Resilience: Accommodating Article Review

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[. . .] This does not have to mean immediate acceptance of failure from the child. Rather, it should be used as a tool to determine how the educational system may be able to assist the child in choosing their own optimistic path to a more successful portion of America's society and workforce.

To assist students in a poverty setting, the characteristics in which a school holds can significantly benefit the outcomes for at-risk students. In 1979, a study of three thousand poverty students found that high academic standards, incentives and rewards, appropriate feedback and praise, teachers with positive behavior, and chances to experience responsibilities, successors, and problem solving skill development directly related to a student being able to have good academic capabilities, despite their poverty status (Downey, 2008). In order to fully understand how teachers' and schools' involvement in their students' lives effect resilient traits, Downey ran a study of thirty two practicing classroom teachers to assist in giving their perspective, analyzing four different key areas: Teacher-student rapport, classroom climate, instructional strategies, and the students' skills (Downey, 2008).

When a teacher and their students have good rapport, it can raise the opportunity for academic resilience. In fact, educational resilience and student-teacher rapport were found to be directly related. The teachers are able to develop strong, interpersonal relationships with their students show respect and trust to the student, forming a relationship that exemplifies a student's educational capabilities. The teachers involved in Downey's study agreed, one saying that, "Students don't care what you know until they know that you care." Once the student knows that their teacher cares about their well being, the teacher can display their realistic yet high expectations for their students, using the student's own talents to help build long-term self-esteem (Downey, 2008). It is extremely important for both the teacher and the student to be involved in the learning process.

The environment and climate of the classroom, not just the performance and beliefs of the teacher, also play important roles in child resiliency. Pressured at-risk students may experience desires to be socially accepted by their classmates, but if the environment is equalized within the classroom and conveys that the teacher has behavior expectations from all of their students, along with telling their students that they are responsible for their own success, it creates a meaningful, safe environment for students. With such an equalized environment for the student to be surrounded by, they are able to become more academically successful by focusing on the subject at hand. Students being told to be responsible for their success feel a sense of accomplishment when meeting their personal and academic goals. Requiring students to take control of their academic performance also teaches the student that they are responsible for their own life and that they have the capabilities to change their own destiny (Downey, 2008). This excellent and important feature of the classroom equalization allows the student to feel as though they are finally in a safe, respectful environment, and it is here that they are able to learn and work at their full potential.

When an at-risk student is able to be involved on a team or in a group learning setting, or cross-age tutoring within a classroom, they are able to through constant polishing of skills and abilities. A student with multiple learning tools will have a sense of accountability for their portion of tasks, giving them a push to get motivated to learn. This superb opportunity encourages them interact with other students, introducing a new understanding to different thought processes and learning strategies. When an at-risk student is able to teach younger students, it benefits the older student by allowing the practice and study of previously learned or new skills and materials, thus increasing their chances for academic success (Downey, 2008).

Lastly, Downey argues that the educational environment will benefit a student by giving them the chance to learn communication, social, interpersonal, and literacy skills, and also extracurricular interests and activities. A teacher giving a student a lesson that will allow the student to be able to apply the information to other areas of their life or in future jobs will help them into a positive outlook on adulthood. Students need to be given opportunities to enhance their life outside of the school day, and extracurricular activities do just that as well as further encourage a student to get involved with and enjoy school. The extracurricular activities gives the student a chance to develop important life skills, use their time completing a useful project, and broaden their horizons (Downey, 2008).

Both Downey and Brackenreed had exquisite thought processes into the minds and development of at-risk children. Amazingly, as many gave up on the at-risk students, these two writers defended them, stating that the student is not at fault. Both writers refused to identify the at-risk children and adolescents as the victim, clarifying that, indeed, they may have had problems within or outside of their home that raised their risk level. Emphasized by Brackenreed's own personal experience as a child, she stated that this did not mean that at-risk children were lost causes, but that with the right inspiration, these young people would be able to succeed as well as a person that was raised in a healthy, financially stable home. Every child is different and should be treated as such. Downey and Brackenreed defend such a statement, creating a challenge for all to inspire and assist at-risk children in their lives.

References

Brackenreed, D. (2010). Resilience and Risk. International Education Studies, 3(3), 111-121.

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