Sexism in the Classroom Observation Essay

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The purpose of this essay is to inform readers of the observations I made during my short stay in Mr. Sutton’s classroom. It also intend to analyze the differences between girls and boys in the learning environment, and in the following areas: how the two groups interact with teachers, how the instructor may reinforce stereotypical gender behavior, supportive teacher responses to boys and girls; and these relative to standards (learning environments) and (assessment) as delineated by the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers, 2011). The definition and expressed purpose of this document is printed in the introduction: “The Council of Chief State School Officers is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public”(CCSSO, 2011).

My goal is to describe and analyze my observations of student/teacher gender specific behaviors in an effort to meet the goals of this highly respected/ adopted document. Toward this end, I observed two classes taught by the same teacher- Computer Literacy and Beginning Typing.

The classes were taught from 10:00-10:50 and from 11:00-11:50 respectively. The location of the first class was a computer lab; the set-up of the second class, Beginning Typing was a more traditional classroom. The computer class numbered 12 students (7 boys, 5 girls). The Typing class numbered 21 students (12 girls, 9 boys). I am not yet teaching which may have worked in my favor. It can be more difficult to be objective from within a situation in which one has a vested interest, than from without. My own, personal biases and preconceived ideas might have more colored my observation had I not been so on-guard against them. The observation experience did however, reveal to me some specific aspects of my educational views and expectations of which I was unaware. This aspect of my essay will be discussed throughout this essay. Past experience had taught me that entering any social setting with complex dimensions and dynamics can be overwhelming. Therefore, I researched the particulars of my observational goals and from it I formulated a “what behaviors to look for” goal sheet for myself; regarding gender-specific behaviors on the part of both students and teacher, I was to watch for the following: * Class composite

* Assessment(s) - were they biased toward either group?
* Remarks, both positive and negative
* Eye contact
* Facial cues
* Tone of voice
* Textbooks
* Approval expressed through touch or proximity
The way in which students and teachers set learning goals and teaching methodology interested me as well. Before the start of the computer class I felt it appropriate to collect information on class composites and assessment methodology by directly asking the teacher. There wasn’t much time for acquiring in-depth information on assessment from the teacher however, because I also took time before and between the classes to skim the textbooks. I learned more about assessment while observing within the classes.

The expectations I brought with me to the observations were largely due to the reading I had done prior to the observation rather than innately held prejudices, although I discovered at least two of those as well. I expected to find the following: * Boys would be more disruptive and receive more reprimands and less praise that the girls. * The students who paid attention would be seated closest to the teacher, towards the front of the...
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