Saturday, January 30, 2010

Recognizing Diversity

The ability to look at your students and see everyone for who they are…the color of their skin, the language they speak, their families, their likes, dislikes, their hopes, fears…that is what separates an average teacher from an extraordinary teacher.

When we discussed the readings in class this past Tuesday, we spent time referencing two specific articles from our course pack. Those articles were entitled “Culturally Relevant Teaching” and “Seeing Color, Seeing Culture”. These two texts highlighted the importance of recognizing the huge range of knowledge and backgrounds and understandings that children bring to their classroom. In order to create meaningful and relevant lessons for your students it’s important that you see these differences. In the article “Seeing Color, Seeing Culture”, there is an excerpt that states, “I don’t really see color, I just see children” (p. 31). This idea does children a disservice. You can’t ignore a child’s background when the walk into the classroom. They bring their experiences with them everywhere they go, and by ignoring them, we are basically telling them that they don’t matter, when to them…it’s all that does.

As teachers, I believe that part of our job is to empower our students. In order to do that, we have to acknowledge who they are, and get them to know who they are.

There are multiple ways to do this, as our reading displayed. One teacher made a point to take her students on a class camping trip when the school year began, thus allowing her students to let their guards down, and be themselves, allowing her to get to know them. I would like to create projects and assignments that break down my students boundaries. I would love to have my students create digital stories about themselves that they could then present to the class. This would show me visually and orally how they view themselves. I would love to have art projects where the students could be free to creatively present a look into their lives. They could create posters, drawings, bring in a CD they made with their favorite music. They could cook something that they love to eat or that represents their culture, such as Mexican food, Italian food, absolutely anything.

There is an activity I did when I was in middle school. My teacher called it the “Name Game”. Basically, we were responsible for writing a page on our name. Who named us? Why that name? Where did our name come from? Do we like our name? Why, or why not? What are your nicknames? Etc. This was a really cool activity. I remember discussing my name and my Jewish heritage was brought up, as well as my relationship with my grandmother. You can learn a lot about a child from their name. I would love to put this activity to work in my classroom. I would add another aspect that would allow the class to present something of their own. Like a show and tell activity. They could bring in people, things, anything they wanted.

There are so many activities that would be awesome to implement in a classroom when the school year begins that would allow the students to open up with one another and begin to establish a safe, comfortable learning environment.

When I was thinking about this topic, I wanted to incorporate some sort of video or image to help support my ideas. I searched "Diversity" on YouTube, and this was the video that came up. I LOVED it. Please, listen and enjoy! lol

1 comment:

  1. So I completely love the idea of writing about your name. This is such a different way to learn about students backgrounds but how fascinating some of those stories would have been. I think that it would be really interesting to see how different cultures choose names for their children and just how different families go about doing it. I will defiantly try to remember to do this in my classroom!