Effective Teaching for the Multicultural Classroom

Effective Teaching for the Multicultural Classroom

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America is considered to be a melting pot because of the many people who have immigrated in search of a better life. Immigrants have brought with them their own unique cultures. Different genders, poverty and students at risk are some examples. When working with the public especially children within a school system, it is imperative to become somewhat knowledgeable of different cultural beliefs and practices in order to help these children adjust to the traditional classroom. Some children’s cultural backgrounds can have a negative impact on them within a modern classroom. Some obstacles that stand in the way of these children are culture shock, cultural mismatch; gender roles, socioeconomic status and events leading to the choice to prematurely end educational services are involved with these. Defining and dissecting the term culture shock is the beginning step to take to better understand how to make a classroom more culturally inviting.
Culture shocked as defined by Ormrod, J. E. (2011). Educational Psychoogy Developing Learners, is “sense of confusion when a student encounters a new environment with behavioral expectations very different from those previously learned.” An example of this would be a Puerto Rican American who is asked to look his teacher in the eye. This behavior is seen as disrespectful and can be a struggle for the student. An example of how to make this student more comfortable in the classroom would be to get to know the child by asking questions and listening for a response rather than physically looking for one (Ormrod, 2011 pg. 109). Cultural mismatch is the next topic up for discussion.
Cultural mismatch can be defined as a child’s school and home behavior expectations are culturally conflicting. An example of this would be an Asian American boy who does not participate in open class discussions. Asian children are taught to listen and observe as the best way absorb information (Ormrod, 2011 pg. 109). To support this student’s cultural method it would be beneficial to explain why it is important to openly discuss different ideas amongst our classmates. It would be helpful to this student to gradually introduce him to the discussion by asking him questions during class or have the class answer questions in chorus. If possible allow time for all the student’s to write a short summary of what they learned afterwards.

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This can be a way of not singling this student out, assessing the entire class, and using alternate teaching methods. Incorporating culturally responsive teaching into the classroom can offer students with different learning traditions a comfortable and valuable opportunity to learn in a traditional classroom (Ormrod, 2011 pgs. 109-115). The next topic to touch base on is gender roles.
The battle of the sexes continues within the classroom. In the educational environment it is important to inform these students about gender roles in a positive manner and teach them to embrace their own individual gender differences. It is important to expose both males and females to same gender adults who have excelled in opposite gender role activities. Explain that girls and boys academic choices do not need to be based on their sex. Teach the history behind stereotyping and the concept that led to them such as, women staying home to breast feed, and men using their strength to do jobs that some women, not all, would struggle at completing. Offer open discussions with guided questions to inform student of talents that were wasted and the negative consequences of stereotyping. Pointing out famous individuals from the past and present can be a great way to open a discussion on this topic. These are only a few examples of how to aide individuals with difficulties overcoming struggles with gender. Socioeconomic differences are probably one of the top issues that cause distress to students in a traditional classroom (Ormrod, 2011 pg. 124).
Recognizing the individuals that are discouraged and suffering socioeconomic problems can sometimes be difficult to do. The majority of these students may perhaps be embarrassed to admit the truth about why they are not able to complete their homework or are feeling down every day. In some cases there are individuals that accept the hand they were given and do the best they can. It is important to recognize these two individual types of students and offer the right amount of care they need. Several conditions can contribute to the stress a child endures from the financial and educational struggles they are faced with outside of school including: poor nutrition and health, inadequate housing and frequent relocation, toxic substance exposure, negative social environments, emotional stress, gaps in background knowledge and lower quality schools. There are essential things that teachers can do to make these minorities cope with their everyday struggles. Providing a listening ear can help a student release tension from their situation and allow the teacher to identify how they can help. The following will provide some ideas on what can be done to assist students and families in the lower class.
Offer kindness and understanding to each individual situation. Explore options such as charities and community organizations that can offer the basic necessities that are missing (clothes, food, shelter, and health care needs). Provide extended classroom hours as a safe and quiet environment they can obtain tutoring and complete homework and other assignments. Speak with parents and educate them on how to help their child at home. Offer field trips as opportunities to those who do not have the resources available to experience zoos, factories and museums on their own. Encouraging individuals enduring circumstances beyond their control can make a life- long difference in their futures (Ormrod, 2011 pgs. 126-129). Students who continue to struggle and need extra care are students with high risks.
Failing to grasp the basic knowledge that is required to become a successful adult and are expected to drop out of school are known as high risk students. There are numerous reasons why students want to drop out of school including: continued academic failure, emotional and behavior problems, lack of encouragement, and financial obligations. High risk students can be prevented from making the choice to drop out by being identified as early as possible, providing a warm and supportive educational environment, encourage them to participate in school and community activities and educate them on the opportunities a diploma will offer . Educators can lessen drop- out rates by providing a stimulating learning environment, assigning hands-on assignments that are relevant to their fuetu needs in life such as, a math teacher assigning mathematical problems for the class to solve to help identify the amount of materials needed to repair a roof. Another suggestion would be to have them solve mathematical problems for a “Habitats for Humanity” project and then visit the new home or “Skype” to have a visual of how math is necessary in a real life situation. Comprehending the differences amongst cultures should give teachers and students the information they need to succeed in the learning environment they are provided with (Ormrod, 2011 pgs. 130-133)
In conclusion it is detrimental for instructors to know and understand their students. Becoming familiar with students social cues and environments outside of the classroom can allow them to determine individual student’s behavior and learning styles within the traditional classroom setting. Teachers need to educate themselves on the culture differences to have a better idea of how they can tweak their teaching methods and meet the educational needs of all of their students. Educationalists need to do their best to accommodate and honor the specific needs and belief systems of students. A dramatic difference can be noticed by students when teachers offer as much encouragement, support, and high expectations in order to provide the best quality education to those who do not have an equal opportunity to thrive in an unfamiliar, learning environment. It is the student’s obligation to utilize the free and appropriate education and guidance they are given to make good choices and conform to the American education system. Help can only be provided to those who choose to help themselves.

Works Cited
Ormrod, J. E. (2011). Educational Psychoogy Developing Learners. Boston: Pearson.

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