Role Of Culture In The Classroom
The articles selected were both scholarly reviews, meaning they identified previous empirical data and research and utilized that information to draw further conclusions on language, culture, and diversity. The first review, Strategies for Teaching in Heterogeneous Environments While Building a Classroom Community by David & Capraro (2001), discussed the concept of cultural pluralism. It is “a society in which members of diverse cultural, social, radical, or religious groups are free to maintain their own identity and yet similarly share equitably in a larger common political organization, economic system, and social structure.” David & Capraro discuss strategies for establishing an inclusive classroom community that respects students’ backgrounds and diversity. In broad terms, they stated the goal of instructors should be shifting from teacher lead instruction to student lead instruction providing ample opportunities for students to engage in meaningful ways. They go on to discuss specific strategies for language arts and mathematics. In language arts, David and Capraro (2001) promote students to have a voice in what they learn and produce—for example, by allowing students space to react to the text or promoting activities where students discuss their lived experiences. From a constructivist perspective, students strive to apply meaning to their experiences (Driscoll, 2014, p 393), so giving space for cognitive and mindful processing engages these intended results.
The second article selected, The Culturally Responsive Teacher, by Villegas and Lucas (2007), addresses that our society continues to diversify and that educators must adapt their classrooms to facilitate better meaningful engagement that is culturally sensitive and respectful. Villegas and Lucas identify six “salient qualities” (Villegas & Lucas, 2007) for instructors to use when guiding their quest to be culturally responsive:
- Understanding how learners construct knowledge
- Learning about students’ lives
- Being socioculturally conscious
- Holding affirming views about diversity
- Using appropriate instructional strategies
- Advocating for all students
From their six qualities, a few meaningful themes emerged. Students learn by applying meaning to their experiences; therefore, instructors must be mindful of those varying experiences and how they could potentially impact students’ learning. More specifically, addressing that for some students, especially those who identify as part of a marginalized group, their experiences might include negative experiences due to the dominant social group(s)—being mindful of how a school might perpetuate those inequalities. The authors give the example of allowing students space to identify whose perspective might not be addressed in a history book and using it as a chance to engage with an author or speaker who might carry a perspective that differs. Another primary theme weaved throughout is the value of every unique perspective. These unique perspectives need to be celebrated, honored, and affirmed. Educators should demonstrate confidence in all learners and their ability to meet high achievement. In a K-5th grade classroom, these qualities are especially important because students are in a stage of life where classification and organization are mental strategies used to decipher the world. When the message being transmitted is that all are valued, all are welcome, and all people have a rich perspective, the organizational processes taking place in a learner’s mind are not a greater or lesser than comparison but instead an either/or/and/perspective. Instead of a message (implicit or explicit) being conveyed that one group of students is better than another based on their grasp of the English language, students are instead sent the message that all students offer a unique perspective in learning and that they have value to offer to their learning journey. Diving deeper into the example, a student whose first language is Spanish might be able to offer translation of the various areas across the southwest that are Spanish in name and help an instructor open the conversation of colonial conquest and movement of people, ideas, and goods (and disease) across time/space.
These articles demonstrate the importance of exposure for language development at the K-5th age. An article by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), & the International Reading Association (2013) describes various opportunities to engage in meaningful ways. This includes small group discussions, relevant reading and writing activities, daily exposure to various literature, and opportunities to practice with varying writing forms. All these strategies to improve linguistic skills can be amplified in a diverse classroom because by engaging with students’ backgrounds, they can deepen meaning.
Also, as students better understand others’ perspectives (3rd-5th grade, they deepen their understanding as they link knowledge to others’ described lived experiences.
Role of Language, Culture, and Diversity
In my future classroom, I intend to celebrate the diversity of the students that make up our learning environment. I will seek opportunities to support autonomy and creative thinking when executing assignments or lessons. Students will be active participants in the structure of our learning space so that they get the most out of the information presented. Language as our means for communicating and constructing knowledge will not be ridiculed but instead expanded on to honor the system of language students already have for understanding. Ultimately, learners have implicit structures for language, and I will support those implicit structures as best I can while introducing explicit concepts. Students have more experiences outside the classroom than in it, so it would be a disservice not to use those experiences as scaffolding tools ( Driscoll, 2014, p 262) to gain high-quality outcomes for all students.
As I imagine my future classroom, I must remember my identity. As a white, abled body of fertile age, middle-class, cis-gender, heterosexual woman, I must acknowledge the privileges I have been allotted and how they have shaped how I understand the world. With a lens of awareness, I can better address my biases and spaces for growth. This will require frequent, personal reflection. If I mess up, I will address it and identify how to improve. I aim to offer equitable, engaging, rigorous lessons for my students and honor them as learners. In our diverse classroom, we will discuss intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989) and how identity is a compilation of social markers attributing to one’s perceived level of power and position in society and how those constructs influence our classroom. We will engage in dialog, lessons, writings, activities, and reflections and think critically about how our lessons learned might apply to life. Students benefit on all developmental levels from embracing a diverse classroom. Students will deepen their understanding when drawing from their unique points of view, and each will be celebrated.
Crenshaw, Kimberle (1989) “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum: Vol. 1989: Iss. 1, Article 8. Available at: http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclf/vol1989/iss1/8
David, H. L., & Capraro, R. M. (2001). Strategies for teaching in heterogeneous environments while building a classroom community. Education, 122(1), 80.
Driscoll, M. P. (2014). Chapter 6: Cognitive and Knowledge Development. In Psychology of learning for instruction (pp. 185–222). essay, Pearson Education.
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), & International Reading Association. (2013, November 7). Developmentally appropriate practices for young children: Recommendations for teaching practices. Reading Rockets. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://www.readingrockets.org/article/developmentally-appropriate- practices-young-children-recommendations-teaching-practices
Villegas, A. M., & Lucas, T. (2007, January 1). The Culturally Responsive Teacher. EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP, 64(6), 28–33.
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Understanding the role of culture and how it affects both English language learners (ELLs) and teachers is important in creating a cohesive class community. Awareness of and reflection on one’s own cultural influences can help a teacher build stronger relationships with students and their families. These stronger relationships lead to more effective teaching and learning.
Part 1: Building Cultural Self-Awareness
In 200-250 words, summarize your own cultural identity to build self-awareness as a teacher of diverse students. Include the following in your summary:
- How your cultural identity has been informed by social constructs such as customs, traditions, values, beliefs, norms, communication style, language, etiquette, spirituality, and habits? Include at least two experiences and/or beliefs that have shaped your cultural identity.
- How your cultural identity affects your understanding of the ELLs in your classroom and their families and influences home-school relationships.
Part 2: Building Cultural Knowledge
In 200-250 words, describe a classroom activity designed to build cultural knowledge and learn about the cultural background of the ELLs in your classroom. Include the following in your description:
- Which teaching contexts of the classroom activity would be appropriate (e.g., grade levels, ESL/bilingual setting), and how you would determine its success.
- How the classroom activity allows you to better understand students’ cultures, build cultural knowledge, and identify gaps in your personal knowledge of culture.
Part 3: Reflection
In 250-500 words, reflect on your own cultural competency as a teacher. Include the following in your reflection:
- Describe at least one area of strength and one area for growth in your cultural competence as a teacher. Include an explanation of how understanding your own culture helped you plan the classroom activity to understand the culture of your students.
- Explain how you plan to handle incidences in the classroom when cultural differences lead to misunderstandings, miscommunication, or resistance.
- Describe how a Christian worldview that embraces justice and concern for the common good can affect a teacher’s approach to addressing inequities and the marginalization of students based on cultural and linguistic differences. Include how you personally plan to address issues of inequity and marginalization both institutionally and within your classroom.
Support your deliverable with a minimum of three scholarly resources.
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