The article Culturally Responsive Classroom Management: Awareness Into Action by Carol Weinstein, Mary Curran and Saundra Tomilson-Clarke is a really great read for teachers. Being aware and respectful of the diverse cultures in your classroom is so relevant today because of the vast and growing number of immigrant students in our country and province.
I agree with the article when it suggests that you should start out by having an inclusive and inviting classroom that all students feel comfortable in. I also think that a big idea in this article is that you must acknowledge the cultural differences in your classroom with all students, not just ignore their beliefs or culture because it is not the same as everyone else’s.
Establishing expectations of behaviour and tolerance in something you should go over with your students on your very first day together. You should have a couple clear rules in your classroom with what matters to you the most like one person speaks at a time or being respectful. I think this is also important not only so students understand what behaviour is expected from them when interacting with their peers, but also very important for new students who are unfamiliar with your school or even Canadian schools in general. I really liked the example of “Ms. Frank” and her class, and how she said it is important to be very explicit and clear abut what she expected from her students, and then solidified these expectations with examples. This is something I hadn’t particularly thought a lot about, but if students are used to sitting in class without speaking and then going home to do homework independently, and your classroom is entirely about participation and in class assignments, that could be hard for a student to pick up on or transition to especially if they are surrounded by people not speaking their first language. It is also useful for all students to ensure there is no confusion. In addition, knowing what is expected from the student at home is also something to consider as a teacher.
In that respect, teachers should try their best to introduce and educate themselves to that culture so they can try their best to make the transitions easier. They should also be educating their students about other parts of the country, and other parts of the world so they know that there are so many diverse people and cultures, and that is totally okay to do things. However, with that being said, I wanted to share my opinion on the example that was provided with the parent who was not comfortable with their daughter being sat next to a male in class. I liked how the teacher dealt with that; she tried to find some sort of a happy medium where she wouldn’t intentionally pair her up with males but told the parent that she would be involved with males in the class during group work and whatnot. I can’t say that I totally agree with that, because I feel like it is so important to be culturally diverse in your classroom in all ways – and that includes not changing your classroom to fit only one culture. I do understand that the teacher didn’t change her classroom rules at all, but the students who are coming into your classroom from other cultures also need to be respectful of the other cultures in the classroom. It is important to teach ALL your students to be culturally tolerant to everyone and their culture, and that also includes towards your culture and your classroom as well. It’s hard to explain, but I do like how that teacher tried to accommodate everyone’s needs in that situation.
I found Vinh’s example on page 272 really intriguing because his explanation is so completely true and happens every single day in classrooms, but is not helpful in any way at all! When he explained that he couldn’t speak English very well and wanted to improve but his teacher in America kept saying, “Your English is good! You’re doing great!” whereas in his culture, his teachers would tell him to go home and study. I think this is a great perspective to take into consideration because so much of the time some of us are worried about discouraging students or hurting their feelings, when in reality Vinh really wanted and needed some constructive criticism. You don’t have to tell him his English sucks or that he is doing great. You could tell him what areas he is doing well in and what areas he could work on, and maybe find some resources to help him. With any students new to your classroom, or to our country there are so many things to consider.