Classroom Social Dynamics Management: Why the Invisible Hand of the Teacher Matters for Special Education

Thomas W. Farmer, Molly Dawes, Jill V. Hamm, David Lee, Meera Mehtaji, Abigail S. Hoffman, Debbie S. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The invisible hand is a metaphor that refers to teachers’ impact on the classroom peer ecology. Although teachers have the capacity to organize the classroom environment and activities in ways that contribute to students’ social experiences, their contributions are often overlooked in research on students’ peer relations and the development of social interventions. To address this, researchers have begun to focus on clarifying strategies to manage classroom social dynamics. The goal of this article is to consider potential contributions of this perspective for understanding the social experiences of students with disabilities and to explore associated implications for the delivery of classroom-focused interventions to support their adaptation. Conceptual foundations of classroom social dynamics management and empirical research on the peer relationships of students with disabilities are outlined and the potential of the concept of the invisible hand is discussed in relation to other social support interventions for students with disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-192
Number of pages16
JournalRemedial and Special Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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