Dimensions of Multicultural and Global Awareness

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Break ended earlier for some, because J-term began the first week of January! This was when I took the class Dimensions of Multicultural and Global Awareness with Professor Beau Basel Beaudoin.

In this class we discussed the issue of diversity in schools and, more importantly, the classroom environment.  In this particular class, the Professor was very good at instigating a thought process that I have never had before and made me rethink my process of planning and teaching. Listed below are some of the conclusions that I have drawn from this class experience:

1. What does Diversity have to do with me?

Every teacher should be teaching diversity in their classroom in some form that is age appropriate and allows students to “walk in someone else’s shoes.”  The topic and issue of diversity is an educational moment that can allow students to learn and understand that their peers, people in their community, in their society, or even globally have different perspectives in life.  The educators role is to teach them how to be respectful individuals that think for themselves, but are empathetic to others viewpoints through their own “cultural lense.”

Once students fully grasp that each person has grown in their own culture or environment, they will understand that the “cultural lense” is what makes us all unique and diverse from each other. In other words, every person has had different experiences in life that make them who they are.

2. It’s not about me!

When teaching, it is important to remind oneself that teaching is not about me, the teacher. Education is student centered! It is about creating a safe environment that allows students of all cultures to be educated.  When planning lessons, the focus should be on the students self-discovery within the content and having the material connect to the students.

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3. Fun Activities that allow students to get to know each other, talk about differences/similarities, or start on a level playing field.

One example of a first day/week icebreaker that allows everyone to get to know each other is drawing a self-portrait with their name (shown in the image above).  In art class you might have more experienced art students then others, so to create an even playing field the teacher could ask his or her students to draw on top of their head and write their name. The drawing should be quick, about 2 minutes, and then you ask for them to stand up with their picture hidden from the other students in class.  Next, the teacher will explain that they can share their picture when it is their turn and after they have shared a detailed compliment about someone they know.  Remind the students to avoid easy answers of “they’re nice” or “kind.”  If someone does not know anyone, ask them to share something interesting about them self.

4. Know who you are… and keep that respectively separate from students.  In other words, don’t try to make your students little clones of your beliefs and ideals. Teach them to think for themselves and to respect others in the way they think and feel.

5. As a teacher, do not solely lecture, but become a facilitator.  As a facilitator, allow the students to learn in an environment where they can self-discover and understand concepts/materials on their own accord.  This can be done through peer discussion groups that are facilitated by the teacher with a question on a theme, artist, etc…

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6. Teach equitably not equally. Teaching equitably means that as a teacher you need to understand that all of your students will have different levels of understanding and differentiated learning styles. As a result, the teacher needs to accommodate and plan lessons that will let all of his or her students reach the same outcome of understanding and learning.