Answer these questions according to the attachment below.
We are just past the midpoint of your first course in the program. Congratulations on your progress! Take a bit of time to reflect on the work that you have done thus far. Return to your Unit 2 assignment, in which you set goals for your learning in this course.
Respond to at least two colleagues which are located after these questions. Identify any similarities or differences that your interviewees experienced when compared to those of your selected colleagues. To what do you attribute the similarities or differences?
First colleague post
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to conduct informal interviews with two educators whose cultural backgrounds are different from my own. The selection of these two educators was made because of the years of experience and their attitudes towards students in and out of the classroom; both enjoy helping students reach long and short-term academic goals. The first educator Mrs. Sandy has been teaching several subjects in the elementary and middle school sector for over ten years. She shared a fair amount of information with me about her experiences and thoughts about cultural issues surrounding curriculum, instruction, and assessment in the classroom. The second educator Mrs. Harris has been teaching in the elementary school system for approximately fifteen years and showed her passion for the support of district goals and student achievement for culturally diverse students with various learning disabilities.
In listening to each teacher refer to the genders, race, economic statuses, language and religious backgrounds of their classroom setting; I could relate to some of the stressful moments they encountered on a daily basis. In their attempt to promote the understanding and respect for cross-cultural variances with students; everyone feels uncomfortable. They both stated that the most difficult task in the instruction was talking to the class about stereotypes and prejudices brought out in discussions to assist students with sustaining tolerance for each other’s diversities. This was achieved after some time and the harmony, respect, peace and cohesion of the class began to thrive after the weekly cultural orientations.
Effective strategies were implemented within the curriculum throughout the school day to not only help students, but to relieve teachers as well. The teachers began to discuss and display each minority group’s contributions through pictures, word walls, readings, artifacts, and videos. From their voices the assessment concluded that students developed ethnic pride, enthusiasm and curiosity, because of increased participation for show and tell activities. These educators have reduced distractions, enforced rules to include specific ways to motivate students with learning disabilities, by pacing lessons, spending extra time with students, allowing extra time for assignment completion, and enforcing the use of acceptable cultural terms within the classroom. Each teacher personally invite parents to share in events, class activities, and volunteer programs at the school. This is what I refer to as a great example of the enforcement of multicultural education. Although, more work, time, and effort must be put forth in every district to have complete acceptance on diversity issues and educational program implementation into curriculum instructions of our lessons; this is the beginning.
During the interviews, I felt motivated and inspired to search for new ideas and avenues of multicultural education. I was thinking of ways parents and the community could assist with addressing cultural misconceptions; this would decrease stereotyping of ethnic groups. There was a rush of brainstorming ideas flooding my mind afterward and I came up with some suggestions to share with my colleagues in the next meeting. I plan to check and apply myself continuously and will not allow bias feelings to come between what is morally correct. Also, to be cautious of how I address others, because even if an offense is unintentional, it can still cause emotional or cultural injury to the individual. I want to effectively care for and respect other cultures, traditions, and beliefs on a more self-conscious manner in my educational practice.
Second colleague post
I chose a former colleague and a former employee of mine to interview, both of whom are from cultural backgrounds very different from my own. My former colleague (Sara for the sake of this interview) is Chicano/Hispanic and a first-generation student. My former employee (Nicole) is an African American student and from a very low socio-economic status family. I picked these two individuals because they have openly discussed their background and struggles with me previously, and I knew they would be willing to expand the conversation, providing valuable insight.
When asked to describe any cultural challenges related to curriculum, instruction, and assessment, Sara said she faced several difficulties with English grammar and remedial mathematics. She said she felt a lot of racial tension in middle and high school when it came to trying to participate in GATE and AP courses. She experienced a lot of unwillingness from teachers to place her in AP classes and felt doubt from her teachers that she would excel.
Nicole, coming from a low socio-economic status and being African American, has always felt doubt from teachers on her abilities to succeed. Given her low SES, her school did not offer extensive programming so even though she might have excelled in AP courses, she wasn’t provided the opportunity to participate. Upon entering college, she said she still felt identified by her socio-economic status and said she was often singled out in class because she was the only African American student. Instructors would ask her opinion on issues and were often overly attentive.
When asked how she coped with challenges, Sara said her biggest take away related to her challenges was seeing discrimination from the “other side”. She does not look Hispanic so people often assume she is White because of her skin color. She learned early on that it was important to define her identity and continue to explore all cultures in an educational atmosphere. During college, her background and the challenges she faced helped define what she participated in. She participated in cultural clubs, took classes to broaden her Spanish language skills, and took courses in Chicano studies and joined the first-generation student organization. Further, to overcome academic challenges, she used as many free resources as she could, even though at times it was hard for her to have access to such things. She said it taught her discipline and how to set priorities. She is now working on her MBA and is an active leader in the first-generation mentor program on her campus.
In order to cope with her challenges, Nicole said she threw herself into her studies and tried to connect with her identity as an African American in a positive way by joining the Black Student Union and a feminist club. Further, she took history classes regarding her cultural background. She learned to ignore minor transgressions she faced in the classroom and didn’t let stereotypes get in the way of her success. Both individuals said they formed groups with others from their culture which provided them with a safe space and helped them find support and acceptance. Her strategies have proved to be successful-she recently graduated with two majors and one minor!
The interviews were very enlightening. I have known these two individuals for several years but I was given new information and insight into their backgrounds. I did feel a little uncomfortable when approaching them for the interview and honestly, didn’t come to any resolution to my feelings. I never want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or highlight differences more than show appreciation which I think is an important concept for my future position and one that both interviewees mentioned. It is important to find the balance between recognizing diversity and showing appreciation of differences and going overboard, placing too much emphasis on differences and ultimately causing more segregation. Both interviewees said this has happened in their previous educational setting which ends up defeating the purpose of diversity efforts. An awareness of this issue is vital for my success as a future educational professional.
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