Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence
Sociocultural Factors in Social Relationships: Examining Latino Teachers' and Paraeducators' Interactions with Latino Students
Sociocultural theory emphasizes the social nature of learning and the cultural-historical contexts in which interactions take place. Thus, teacher-student interactions and the relations that are fostered through these contexts play an especially vital role in student achievement. It has been argued that culturally responsive instruction can have a positive impact on interactions between teachers and students. This paper explores the effect of sociocultural factors on the relationships and interactions between Latino students and 32 Latino teachers and paraeducators. Findings suggest that knowledge of students' culture and communities, their primary language, and the interactional styles with which they are familiar facilitates meeting their academic and social needs. Findings also suggest that school roles shape interactions, and that teachers and paraeducators focus on different aspects of children's development. The term paraeducator is used to describe school personnel hired to assist students directly in the classroom. It is concluded that school contexts must afford diverse students opportunities to utilize the resources they bring to the classroom by validating those resources and creating learning contexts that tap into them. The idea is not new, but putting it into practice has proved difficult.