In my teacher preparation program in college, a “classroom management” instructor told us “not to smile before October," if we had any hope of establishing control and dominance over our students. I will never claim to be a classroom management expert, a fact I am keenly aware of whenever I sub for one of my teachers. On the other hand, I have come to realize that the “do not smile” advice is complete hogwash! According to Lev Vygotsky, a Russian theorist, learning always occurs, and cannot be separated from, a social context. Consequently, instructional strategies that promote the distribution of expert knowledge (where students collaboratively work together to conduct research, share their results, and perform or produce a final project) helps to create a collaborative community of learners. Knowledge construction occurs within "social context that involves student-student and expert-student collaboration on real-world problems or tasks that build on each person's language, skills, and experience, shaped by each individual's culture" (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 102). How can we be social if we do not smile?
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