Multicultural Education

Multicultural Education

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A teaching case study is defined as a narrative that describes a specific event within the school environment that allows professionals to investigate critical issues that impact the learning of students. Creating a case study can be seen as a form of professional development, educators learning from real examples. A case study is a powerful way for educators to reflect on the actions of other professionals. “Case studies force individuals and groups to think somewhat differently then they have before (Taylor & Whittaker, pg. 70).” The case study of Jim Peterson is multifaceted. Different teaching philosophies and beliefs in student expectations are critical issues which are discussed in this teaching case study.
Recognizing the Problem
The trigger of this particular case happened on a Thursday morning, when Mr. Peterson and his students were beginning to read a story about an African American athlete. The single white student jumped out of his seat, threw the reading material on the ground and shouted “I ain’t reading this no more, I’m sick of niggers!” Two of the African American students responded with. “We’ll whip your ass”. This prompted the White student to run from the room, with Mr. Peterson running after him. Mrs. Fitzgerald shouted at Mr. Peterson for creating the chaotic situation and told him to put away his teaching material and to never use the material again.
Jim Peterson was beginning his student teaching experience. He is teaching in an eight week summer program for students with disabilities. Jim has limited teaching experience and is excited about the possibility of getting his first teaching job. He has had experience working with a diverse population, specifically with students with emotional disabilities as a residential counselor and teacher’s aide. Jim considers himself to be “laid back” and easy to get along with. Jim’s believes that the key to effective classroom management is a relevant curriculum that addresses his student’s interests and needs. Jim is flexible when it comes to classroom management. As a sergeant in the military, he feels that he does not have a problem addressing discipline issues. Jim is confident about his student teaching placement because of his experience with the student population and the courses he has taken in multicultural education.
Mrs. Fitzgerald is Jim’s cooperating teacher. She is a veteran teacher who is married to the principal.

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She believes that effective classroom management is an essential teacher responsibility. Mrs. Fitzgerald is a traditional teacher with limited experience with a multicultural classroom. She uses teacher editions and basal readers for her lesson planning. Mrs. Fitzgerald prefers to start the first day of school with academics and is less concerned with activities that will enhance group cooperation.
Their classroom consists of seven students, ages 11 to 13, who were classified as emotionally disturbed. Six of the students were African American and one was white. The community is semi rural and minority students only represent three to five percent of the student body. Mrs. Fitzgerald’s classroom represented a large amount of minority students because the emotionally disturbed students came from many schools throughout the counties.
There are many discrepancies between various individuals’ expectations and the actual events. Mrs. Fitzgerald strongly believes in strict classroom discipline and traditional education. When the disruption occurred, she was angry and told him that he was not allowed to use the lessons and materials he planned. Jim wanted to impress his cooperating teacher and students by using materials and methods that would engage his student’s interest and needs. Jim was also concerned that his lesson triggered the White student’s outburst.
Because there were differences in expectations, several problems emerged in this case. There wasn’t any communication about differences in teaching philosophies, behavior expectations, teaching to a diverse population, and collaboration. Collaborative activities include engaging in deeper levels of inquiry and analysis, breaking patterns of teacher privacy and isolation, establishing patterns of collaboration and teaming and focusing on student achievement by focusing on new strategies and interventions to help students learn (Wells & Fuen, 2007).
The Frame
Both individuals in this case have different perspectives, values, and beliefs about the problems in the classroom. Jim felt confident to deliver his lessons because of his experience with African American students and his courses in multicultural education. Jim’s course work has told him that multicultural education is based on visions of humans living in greater harmony with each other and with the earth (Bennett, pg. 35). Jim believes that if a student is engaged in learning, then there will be limited behavioral problems. He believes in designing a creative learning environment that is relevant to the student’s lives
Mrs. Fitzgerald believes that her experience as a veteran teacher allows her the right to control her learning environment. She values a disciplined classroom and is comfortable with her traditional teaching materials and methods. She also holds the belief that all students who are emotionally disturbed need strict discipline in order to be successful.
The problems in this classroom are the different teaching philosophies of the two teachers working together. They have different teaching styles and philosophies and neither of them have the expertise to teach to a diverse population. It is evident that both teachers want their students to be successful. Both parties need to find common ground and develop strategies that will address their communication problems.
Search for Alternatives
Professionals with different teaching styles need to work together to discover of compromise in their co-teaching roles and expectations. Both Mrs. Fitzgerald can benefit from learning how to co-teach. Team teaching or co-teaching is when two or more people share responsibility for teaching some or all of the students assigned to a classroom (R. Villa, J. Thousand & A. Nevin). Within the co-teaching environment they can share their different ideas and how to deal with their differences in opinions in a professional manner. The team needs to establish trust, develop their interpersonal and communication skills, share classroom responsibilities, and work together to creatively overcome problems and challenges in the classroom. Teachers are better equipped to utilize research proven teaching strategies to increase students’ attitudes about themselves and their academic abilities. Goal number one for this team would be to establish a consistent time to meet for the purpose of planning curriculum and classroom management. Collaborative time for teachers gives them the ability to prepare a differentiated curriculum to deliver to diverse learners. Another goal for this case should be establishing a protocol to deliver meaningful feedback to help each other grow professionally.
Multicultural education is essential because 30 percent of today’s school age children are ethnic minorities (Bennett, pg. 16). Mrs. Fitzgerald and Jim have an obligation to introduce components of multicultural education into their classroom. These teachers can use their established collaborative time to develop the following goals. Mrs. Fitzgerald and Jim need to incorporate multiethnic curriculum into the summer program. Students need to learn how to have open discussions of race and racial issues. The teachers need to ensure that their classroom rules and norms are equitable to all members of the classroom. Students will enjoy coming to school when they are learning in a positive environment. Students who like school have a higher academic achievement and fewer incidences with disciplinary problem, absenteeism, truancy, and dropping out of school (Hallinan, 2008).
The Plan of Action
Mrs. Fitzgerald and Jim need to establish a professional way to communication with each other as their first priority. Both teachers need to agree on a consistent meeting time to discuss their teaching philosophies and how to honor both ways of implementing instruction to their students. The next step should be learning more about team teaching strategies. This can be accomplished through researching current literature or attending professional development opportunities. Since Jim has more experience in multicultural education, he should create a binder of information for Mrs. Fitzgerald to use as a resource. Both teachers need to plan their lessons together to make sure that each style of instruction is being delivered to the students. Each student has a different learning style and can benefit from the collaboration efforts of both teachers.
The Evaluation
The plan of action needs to be implemented immediately, due to fact that the summer program is eight weeks long. The plan needs to be reevaluated during week four in case it needs to be modified to meet the needs of both teachers. Lesson plans and students work samples can be used as evidence of the integration of multicultural concepts. Both teachers can record the minutes of their collaboration time to show that each has had made valuable contribution to lesson planning. Both teachers can be observed by Jim’s university supervisor and school principal to ensure they are in the on going process to establishing a professional working relationship.
Summary and Reflection
My experience with team teaching is improving every year. Presently, I team teach in a language arts and history class. My co-teachers and I are in the process of developing a positive working relationship where I feel part of the team. It is essential that I commit time for curriculum and daily lesson planning. I learned that if my presence is inconsistent, the students and teacher feel my absence. If I feel that I am not being utilized to my potential, then it is my responsibility to advocate for myself and decide how I can contribute to the classroom dynamics.
The case of Jim Peterson and the research involved in this teaching study revealed the importance of multicultural education. The students in Mrs. Fitzgerald’s class will have a difficult time remaining engaged in an environment that is not relevant to their needs. It is up to the educators to make sure their lessons are multiethnic and provide opportunities to discuss issues pertaining to diversity and cultural understanding.

Action Plan for Peterson and Fitzgerald

Evaluation Process
• Examples of lesson plans and work samples
• Collaborative meeting minutes
• Observations

Hallinan, M. (2008). Teachers influence on students’ attachment to
school. Sociology of Education, 91 (3). 271-283. Retrieved on October 17,
2008 from ERIC database.
Bennett, C. (2007). Multicultural education: Theory and practice. Boston: Allyn
& Bacon
Taylor, L & Whittaker, C. (2009). Bridging multiple worlds. Boston: Allyn & Bacon
Villa, R., Thousand, J. & Nevin, A. (2008). A guide to co-teaching: Practical tips
for facilitating student learning. California: Corwin Press.
Wells, C, & Feun, L (2007). Implementation of learning community principles:
A case study of six high schools. NASSP Bulletin, 91, 141-160. Retrieved October 17, 2008, from ERIC database.
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