When I think about creating a positive classroom climate that is very inclusive and culturally sensitive I think back to when I was in elementary and middle school. I can’t help but think that an opportunity was missed back then. What I mean by that is back when I was in elementary and middle school the cultures represented in those schools were pretty diverse. As a white person I was a minority. The schools I attended were mostly comprised of Filipino people. There were also Chinese, Latin, and African American students. Basically, it was big melting pot of different cultures in every classroom. Looking back on it now, I think there was a great opportunity to really learn about these different cultures. Looking back on it, I realize this was never done directly. There weren’t any major issues as far as bullying or people feeling they weren’t included but I think if teachers really utilized the culturally diverse aspect of the school that students would have really benefited.
For example, there could have been lessons incorporated into the curriculum that celebrated the different cultures. We could have had a food unit that compared and contrasted foods from different cultures. An aspect of this could be to highlight the importance of certain foods to certain cultures. There also could have been a discussion about native languages of these different cultures. I’m sure there are some common threads to be found there. We could have learned about the art of different cultures. For example, there could have been a comparison of Chinese and Filipino art. What do they have in common? What are the differences? Basically, when you learn more about a culture you can’t help but to appreciate and understand it better. A Filipino student can look at a White student and can clearly see physical differences and vice versa. These students probably have a pretty good idea that students of different races have other differences that cannot be seen by the naked eye. That’s why I think it’s a good idea for teachers to explore this directly. The big picture goal here is that once students learn about each others cultures they will see that deep down they have the same goals and interests.
I want to have a classroom that embraces different cultures and personalities. An environment that is sensitive and nurturing will be very conducive to learning. I will be sure to talk about the how bullying is a very negative action. I will have discussions with students that focus on doing things to help stop bullying. For example, when a student first witnesses another student being bullied they can either tell the bully what they are doing is wrong or they can tell a teacher. They key will be to let someone know about it. As mentioned earlier, the celebration of different cultures and races goes hand in hand with this. I feel that students that know more about each other will be much less likely to bully each other. Something in particular I could do is to create a board on the wall where all of the students are represented. The focus of the board will be “Celebrating our Cultural Diversity”. This culture aspects being celebrated could be changed on a monthly basis. For example, January could be “Cultural Food Month”. Students can come forward to speak about foods they have at home. They could mention how these foods are important to them and their culture.
When there are group projects I could set up the groups to be culturally diverse. I will keep a close eye on group dynamics to see how everyone is getting along. I would hope that groups will get along well together and work well together due to the culturally diverse activities we have in class like the “Celebrating Cultural Diversity” board. If they don’t it will be a good measuring stick. I would think about expanding on things I’m doing and would incorporate more or different aspects to my teaching to help improve classroom dynamics. It never hurts to be very inclusive and respectful of everyone and their cultures.
Resources: The Art and Science of Teaching by Robert J Marzano