Reflection on Multicultural Growth
Multicultural education typifies the rapidly evolving demographics of the students. It is a learning system which encompasses histories, texts, beliefs and attitudes of people who are from different cultural backgrounds. As a multicultural educator, I learned that one needs to modify and incorporate lessons which reflect the cultural diversity of learners in a given class. Under this context, the cultural diversity of students is characterized by race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, and gender. In a class, it is also possible to encounter "exceptional" students due to their disabilities, or they require specialized needs. My experiences as a teacher have made me contend that multicultural teaching should be guided by the principle of educational equity for all learners, irrespective of their culture.
Improvement in Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
Culturally responsive pedagogy is an educational model where effective teaching and learning occur through a culturally supported and student-centered approach. At the initial stages of being a multicultural educator, I had difficulties coping with cultural diversities associated with multicultural classes. However, I can assert that my knowledge, skills, and dispositions for culturally responsive pedagogy have since improved, making me to relatively a competent multicultural educator. I am now capable of helping learners adopt various ways of knowing and engaging students from minority cultures to demonstrate their proficiencies in different disciplines (languages and mathematical knowledge).
Establishing inclusion in a classroom is one aspect that highlighted the improvement in my multicultural teaching competencies. This approach honed my skills in developing a student-centered learning model, where my lessons related or applied to students. For example, I often grouped students with different classmates as well as supporting discussion groups where students will inclusively solve class problems. This involved drawing illustrations from their experiences which evokes multiculturalism. I also focused on nurturing positive attitudes amongst students, which is a vital component as far as culturally responsive pedagogy strategies are concerned. As a way of enhancing meaning and fostering involvement, I allowed students to choose between activities and evaluation criteria that enable them to demonstrate their values, strengths, beliefs, and experiences regarding the subject matter.
Learning about my students is another skill I have learned over time. At the beginning of the year, I could hold open discussions as well as holding out surveys, which enabled me to understand and uncover the learning needs of my students. I realized that portraying a desire to adapt my teaching style to the learners helped them feel valued, ultimately improving their confidence and attitude towards my class. I also experimented with the practice of peer teaching, where students can demonstrate their understanding and knowledge of the discipline by acting as teachers. All of these practices epitomized overall improvement of my skills, knowledge, and disposition as a multicultural educator.
Misconceptions and Biases
Biases and misconceptions are main factors that can hamper effective outcomes in multicultural education. Before subscribing to the acceptable multicultural teaching approaches such as the use of Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model in teaching English Learners (ENLs), my abilities were adversely affected by biases and misconceptions. According to Kareva & Echevarria (2013), multicultural educators need to adhere to the principle of educational equity for all learners, irrespective of their cultural backgrounds. I learned that random assumptions I had towards a particular set of students hindered my ability to a rational thinker.
One misconception I had is that multicultural education is an entitlement program or a curriculum movement for students from minority groups such as African Americans, Hispanics, and other victimized groups. Later on, I realized that multicultural education was designed to reform educational institutions for all learners. Students from different backgrounds: races, class, and ethnicity need multicultural education since they require such knowledge and skills to operate efficiently in the current society which is culturally and ethnically diverse (Banks, 2010). Later on, I acknowledged that multicultural education is not only meant for students of color or disenfranchised learners but rather for all students.
Another misconception I harbored is that multicultural education is against Western heritage and values. Initially, I was hesitant on how I can be a multicultural educator without opposing the views and ideologies regarding Western learning system. However, through learning experiences, I realized that multicultural education is Western movement, which is attributed to the outcomes of the civil rights movements, which are based on democratic principle, which is primarily the concept of Western freedom (Banks, 2010). This misconception had derailed my ambition of becoming a multicultural educator, but I am glad I overcame it after embracing the framework of culturally responsive pedagogy model of education.
As a multicultural educator, I also had some biases which I affected my teaching and attitude towards particular students. During the open forum session where students can ask questions, I found myself biased on whom to select. There was a student in Grade 8, whose questions and perspective depicted racial prejudices. He usually asked controversial racial questions, which made me uncomfortable. For example, one I day, I mumbled, under my breath, "Oh god, here comes *John," as a response to his tendencies of disrupting the flow of my class. This incidence made me acknowledge that I had labeled some of the students according to their behaviors, which translated to being biased.
Strengths and Weakness
Embracing the principle of equity in the classroom is one strength I possess as a multicultural educator. Throughout my learning process, I have realized that multicultural education strives on the teacher's ability to advocate for equity for all learners regardless of their cultural background. This attribute enabled me to give equal opportunities to the students during the lessons on "Birth." I allowed every student to participate in answering and asking for clarifications without intimidating or discriminating them by their cultural backgrounds. For example, I was patient with ENLs due to the limitations they depicted when expressing themselves in England. Such approach enabled me to be accommodating and appreciative of my students' strengths and weaknesses.
My ability to provide and promote an atmosphere in which cultural diversity is respected and explored is another distinguished strength I possess as a multicultural teacher. During my routine check up on my class, I noticed that there was segregation between the white and non-white students. Upon further investigation, I realized that a group of Hispanic and African American learners had a constant disagreement with their White counterparts. Their animosity was stemming from racial stereotypes and prejudices. I held an open forum where all students gave their suggestion regarding the matter. My students reached an agreement that everyone should be tolerant and be accommodating on other people's views, values and culture, which is a crucial step towards embracing a multicultural education. Through this scenario, I learned that my communication strategies made students acknowledge that all cultures had their integrity and validity.
Initially, I depicted some shortcomings in my abilities to be a multicultural educator, who risked to derail my progress. Inadequate preparation on how to handle students with diverse views was one of my weakness. There was an active student in my grade-8 class, whom I felt he depicted elements of racial prejudices that made me uncomfortable whenever he contributed to the class discussions. I had become judgmental and biased to him. I was also impatient on the ENLs ESL students, who were relatively slow in grasping the concepts demonstrated in the English language.
Field practices and extra studies played a significant role in my career when it comes to acquiring skills and dispositions which are vital for multicultural teachers. I focused on improving multicultural teaching competencies to enable me to overcome the weakness I had depicted. After exploring the best practices of a multicultural educator as highlighted in culturally responsive pedagogy principles and SIOP model, I realized that my patience on ENL and ESL students had improved remarkably. I embraced the principle of educational equity to be my essential guide when excising my teaching duties. This enhanced my ability to be fair, accommodating, patient and tolerant to the behaviors, belief cultural diversity of my learners.
Regardless of the earlier challenges I faced, the roles of multicultural educator have been given me a pleasant experience. I can attest that my knowledge and skills in multicultural education have evolved significantly. Understanding multiculturalism is paramount for teachers, to enhance the provision of the equal education for all learners, irrespective of their cultural backgrounds. Teacher education programs should be adopted to promote higher levels of multicultural competencies amongst teachers.
Alismail, A. (2016). Multicultural Education: Teachers' Perceptions and Preparation . Journal of Education and Practice , 1-2.
Banks, J. A. (2010). Multicultural Education: Development, Dimensions, and Challenges. 1-4. Retrieved from http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/virtual_disk_library/index.cgi/4273355/FID840/eqtyres/erg/111511/1511.htm
Kareva, V., & Echevarria, J. (2013). Using the SIOP Model for Effective Content Teaching with Second and . Journal of Education and Training Studies, 1-10.
Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol for teaching content areas to ESL students :http://www.cal.org/siop/National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (http://www.naeyc.org)
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