Culture and Race in the Classroom
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Racism. No way! Cultural Diversity Mini Webquest - 01 April 2004

Victoria Bellmay's insight:

AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME teaching material for introducing the concept of cultural diversity, multiculturalism, and anti-racism in the classroom.  Appropriate for students in grades 4-6; great hands-on/research activity worked in groups and then brought back together as a class discussion.  Definitely will consider using this in my future classroom!  I think this is the perfect activity to get students motivated to learn about multiculturalism.  I believe that teaching this isn't any different from learning other subjects in school: if a student really dislikes chemistry, they are not going to put effort into learning chemistry.  A student has to like what they are learning in order to be motivated.  This applies to multiculturalism as well.  If students strongly dislike the idea of learning this topic, they are simply never going to want to take the time to learn about it.

 

This webquest solves that issue.  It outlines that the classroom should first brainstorm what 'cultural diversity' means, and then students are informed that they are delegates to the United Nations.  They are given two documents that can be downloaded online.  Once the students are divided into groups, they are given one sheet that says 'group tasks.'  This is where it outlines what their group specifically needs to do.  Next, the groups get a sheet called 'roles and individual tasks,' where each student understands what task they have to fill in order to successfully delegate to the United Nations.  This is great because it allows for each student to be fully immersed in multicultural education.

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Olivia Jackson's comment, December 12, 2013 12:57 PM
I really like how this activity has different roles for different students! I think these different roles play into the motivation you were talking about--if each person has his own "task," he feels the importance of what he's doing. Besides the motivational value, I really think this leads to an in-depth look at multiculturalism.
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Bilingual/Bicultural Books for the K-8 Classroom

Bilingual/Bicultural Books for the K-8 Classroom | Culture and Race in the Classroom | Scoop.it
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

After reasearching materials that help students see themselves in the work they are producing in a classroom setting (such as the racially conscious construction paper found in previous research), I thought it would beneficial to find other materials or helpful sites to aid in building a culturally conscious classroom.  This blogsite that I found on Pinterest lists some great books to use that incorporate two languages or two cultures.  I think this can be valuable lesson for students, because children of two different backgrounds will be able to find a way to connect with each other.  For example, one of the first books listed on the blog is a Christmas book half in Spanish and half in English.  I can definitely see my students who might have two different backgrounds working together to help the other understand the another language. This can help them bridge the gap between cultures and have the students start to feel more comfortable with one another if they weren't already.

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Mom says racist teacher called son 'demon' | 9news.com

Mom says racist teacher called son 'demon' | 9news.com | Culture and Race in the Classroom | Scoop.it
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

This is yet another story of a teacher (this time a substitute teacher) who reportedly was extremely racist toward the student in question.  The boy reported that this teacher figure called him a demon/devil, and would not allow any of the students who were African American to go to the bathroom.  The boy in question actually urinated himself in the classroom as a result.

 

Although this is an extreme case, the message still holds true: these students are most likely going to feel as though they are 'less' worthy than other students from this point forward.  This is extremely unfortunate.  School should be an environment where students feel as though they are able to do anything and that their teacher will be there to support whatever positive decisions they choose to make.  The substitute teacher was fired, just as the teacher in the article was suspended, but at that point the damage had already been done.  This is why I think exposing teachers to the teaching activity that I listed on this page is essential for people to talk about if they are going to become involved in a school, including being a substitute teacher, teacher's aid, secretary, etc.  Anyone that could potentially impose a negative attitude about culture or race in a classroom should be required to really think about their biases before entering a school and figure out what they can do to tackle this issue.

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tt_discussion.pdf

Victoria Bellmay's insight:

After doing research about 'colorblindness,' I realized that although it is something that I definitely want to avoid in my classroom, I have no idea how I am going to find some way to ensure that it doesn't happen.  Furthermore, I don't know how effective my help is going to be if other teachers in my school or district are not on board with the efforts that I want to take.

 

Further research lead me to this activity.  This is a great way to get the idea of race, culture, and the importance of addressing different values and beliefs within a teacher's mindset.  This activity is meant for teachers (or pre-service) teachers to sit down and complete together. There are a series of prompts/statements relating to these concepts of race, values, culture, etc.  The goal is for a discussion to be created between each other so that each person in the discussion group can relate this to the way that they are thinking and to see if having teachers think about this will make them reevaluate how they address these concepts in their classroom.  Even if they end up not integrating them in their classroom, just the fact that awareness was created is really what's important.  I think that this is a fantastic activity that is absolutely crucial to the future of education.  I hope that I have to do an activity like this when I become a teacher.

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NewteacherbookAnitRacist.pdf

Victoria Bellmay's insight:

To diversify some perspectives on this topic, I've chosen to include some opinions that educators or those related to the education field have regarding multicultural education.  This particular page is the interview transcript of a woman who is on the forefront of advocating multicultural education.  Initially what I take away from this is that this is a much more involved approach to addressing race in the classroom than culturally relevant pedagogy.  Within the first segment of the interview, the woman states "I am talking about equipping students, parents, and teachers with the tools needed to combat racism and ethnic discrimination, and to find ways to build a society that includes all people on an equal footing."  In my eyes, I believe that culturally relevant pedagogy is extremely important and provides the baby steps to addressing what needs to be fixed in a classroom setting.  It allows for teachers and students to address their concerns about stereotypes and prejudices and allow them to recognize a window for changing their viewpoints about the world and introduce the concept of equally addressing all races.  On the other hand, I see multicultural education as building on what culturally relevant pedagogy set up.  I think they can work hand in hand with each other, in order to create a cirriculum that acknowledges race and equality.  

 

One other thing I would like to bring up about this approach to education is that I noticed is that the woman being interviewed often mentions that multicultural/anti-racist education must be integrated but change will only be seen if the integration is done in fully.  She mentions that many people believe that 'multicultural' means the festivals, dances, foods, and traditions that a culture has and learning to include this in the classroom.  And although this is important to do this, it should only be considered a step and not stopped there.  In order to really include this in the classroom, further steps should be taken that emphasize learning about accurate histories of other cultures,  asking questions and having meaningful discussions about representations, and figure out ways that students can go out and make a change in the world regarding race for the better.  My ideal for accurately discussing race in the classroom aligns with this idea fully.  My only fear when becoming a teacher is that the school board that I am located at will not allow me teach about cultural as extensively as I want to in my classroom.  Further research will be done to examine how many of these attempts to make a culturally relevant or multicultural classroom are actually successful.

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Culture in the Classroom | Teaching Tolerance

Victoria Bellmay's insight:

I chose this website that advocates the importance of acknowledging that racial differences exist within the classroom because it provides a great video.  The woman speaking in it is a third grade math teacher from Montgomery, Alabama who is Asian.  She says that sometimes when students from Asian countries, such as Korea, come to school that others expect that these students will pick up how to learn how to speak English easily.  I think this is something that needs to be seriously addressed.  The article above the video points out that sometimes color is a factor of weaker student/teacher relationships, and that minority students will sometimes say that teachers "don't understand who they are."  

 

I don't think this is what it comes down to.  I strongly believe that teachers have the power to connect with students of any race, socioeconomic background, religion, etc.  It all depends on how deeply the teacher is working to really understand the students.  As the article mentions, "to truly engage students, we must reach out to them in ways that are culturally and linguistically responsive and appropriate, and we must examine the cultural assumptions and stereotypes we bring into the classroom that may hinder interconnectedness."  I believe it is possible for teachers to create this type of environment and achieve a deep level of understanding the students by first acknowledging any stereotypes they may have about certain groups of people and then trying their best to overcome them.  If teachers can understand this, they can then transfer that knowledge over to students and will be able to create a stronger bond with them.  

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School of Education at Johns Hopkins University-"Allowing" Race in the Classroom: Students Existing in the Fullness of Their Beings:

School of Education at Johns Hopkins University-"Allowing" Race in the Classroom: Students Existing in the Fullness of Their Beings: | Culture and Race in the Classroom | Scoop.it
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

I think this article brings up a lot of great points about racism in the classroom.  First of all, it brings up both how students of color do not like to be picked out because of their race, but it also brings up how white students do not like to be called a racist by their peers.  I think many articles about race in the classroom often strive to make the reader feel worried, guilty, or provoke any negative emotion about the students of color in the classroom.  While I can understand why authors of articles do that, it often paints the white students in the classroom as the bad guys.  I know that after personally being placed in a classroom with predominantly Hispanic students for my field experience, I would be heartbroken if I heard the students tell me that they thought I was a racist.  I would like to believe that the students and I get along with each other very well.  

 

Additionally, I think this brings up a great point about the importance of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.  The article cites one teacher who points out a Native American student and asks her if she ever rode a horse, even though the tribe she is from doesn't ride horses.  Upon hearing this response from the student, the teacher remarked that it's a shame that there aren't any 'real' Indians anymore.  This really brings to light that, although not all teachers behave like this, the way in which culture should be approached in the classroom needs to be revamped and redefined so that incidents like these do not continue to occur.  

 

Unfortunately, based on the way that modern society functions I would predict that the notion of 'white surpremecy' that underlies everything we do is not going anywhere.  However, that does not mean that schools should not find ways to bridge the gap between students of color, students with different cultural backgrounds, and a white teacher.  Doing so may not eliminate the problem of racism per say, but I think it will definitely get us on track of where we should want to be.

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Are These Hair Policies Racist?

Are These Hair Policies Racist? | Culture and Race in the Classroom | Scoop.it
"Why are you so sad?" a TV reporter asked the little girl with a bright pink bow in her hair. "Because they didn't like my dreads," she sobbed, wiping her tears.
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

I brought up this article in class a couple of months ago and was the inpsiration for choosing this Content Curation topic.  For those in class who did not read it at the time, this news report tells the story of one school district that decided students could not wear their hair in ways that could be seen as distracting, such as having an afro, dreadlocks, or braids.  Many people are debating that this policy is racist, since many African American children like to style their hair this way.  The policy has affected many children within the school system in a very negative way.  One girl in particular was so upset about the new requirement to change her hairstyle that she transferred schools.

 

In my opinion, I think that this policy has gone way too far.  I know in my elementary school, students were not allowed to wear any sort of hat because it was seen as distracting in the classroom.  That makes sense, since the bright colors or logos on the hat sometimes prevented other students from listening to the teacher.  However, I think that every person has the right to style their hair the way that they want to.  Something that I noticed about this article was that the school does not bring up any hairstyle that white children tend to have.  When I was a little girl, I wore giant colorful bows in my hair everyday to school.  I think a little girl wearing a big bow in her hair is much more distracting than if a girl has dreadlocks.  I am personally offended by this policy and I think that the school district in question needs to strongly reconsider their policy.  Reading this makes me wonder if other policies like this exist in other school districts across the country as well.

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The Drawbacks of Teaching in a Multicultural Classroom | eHow

The Drawbacks of Teaching in a Multicultural Classroom | eHow | Culture and Race in the Classroom | Scoop.it
Working in a multicultural classroom can be a very rewarding experience for you as a teacher. It can introduce you to new cultures and perspectives that can broaden your views, and it can help you learn to be more accepting and understanding.
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

This "how-to" page provides yet another perspective about teaching in a multicultural classroom. The name of the page makes the content seem more negative than it actually is. The webpage provides four different things to consider when choosing to become a teacher in a multicultural classroom.  After learning about the drawbacks of being colorblind, I really like what the article says about differentiation: "Because different groups of students have different educational and cultural backgrounds, teachers in the multicultural classroom must devise different assignments that will help all students learn best...It is hard to anticipate the needs of different students and offer options that that allow each of them to to learn in a way that is most suited to them."

 

I personally believe that this is the best advice I have seen about beginning to operate a multiculutural classroom.  Other articles, interviews, or videos I have seen have mentioned the importance of taking a multicultural approach to the classroom, but none of them have outlined exactly what needs to be approached as it did in this article.  Compared to classrooms where students all come from similar backgrounds, the article is right.  Having to accomodate for a diverse group of people can be extremely difficult to implement.  I think the most difficult thing at the end of the day is finding the balance between ensuring that everyone is learning the exact same thing (because just like the high school teacher said in the video at the bottom of the page, everyone needs to be held at the same standard) and having enough time for students to work individually or with each other to achieve this goal.  I believe that project based learning, rather than the traditional school model, would be most effective for teaching students who come from many different cultures and backgrounds.  Also, based on the Content Curation I did on the Types of Schools, I think that private schools or magnet schools/other types of non-traditional public schools will be able to address culture in the classroom the best since they seem to have the most amount of flexibility as to what they can teach in the classroom.

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Crafty Classroom Supplies

Crafty Classroom Supplies | Culture and Race in the Classroom | Scoop.it
Pacon Multicultural Construction Paper: Diversity in the classroom is essential.
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

I found this fantastic classroom material on Pinterest.  Building off of what I've learned so far about the importance of making students of all races feel as though their individuality and differences make them special.  I kept thinking about how this would be translated into an actual classroom project, and I found this construction paper.  I think this is absolutely fantastic to include in the classroom.  Most construction paper that students could use to describe their skin color is either white, yellow, or black.  However, there are many variations of skin pigmentation colors.  In classrooms that focus on culturally relevant pedagogy and multiculturalism, teachers make sure that each child feels represented in class.  If students do not see themselves represented in their work or in materials present in the classroom, they may in fact feel very lost and question their place in the world.  Although this might be only something small to include when creating a classroom, I really believe this can have a big impact on the way that students of all backgrounds see themselves in the world.

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Education World: Wire Side Chats: Creating ELL-Friendly Classrooms

Education World: Wire Side Chats: Creating ELL-Friendly Classrooms | Culture and Race in the Classroom | Scoop.it
Creating ELL-Friendly Classrooms
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

This is an interview that was done with two elementary school teachers who wrote a book about how to approach ESOL students in the classroom.  That's another topic that needs to be addressed regarding culture and race in the classroom, particularly because a student from another country that does not speak English will bring a lot of diversity in terms of values, beliefs, and different cultural norms to the classroom. The authors noted that while this is not as hard to do in smaller classrooms or in those that strongly accept students of all races, it can be more difficult to do this in classrooms that are larger or that having a student from another country might be a strange concept to them.  In these situations, the authors suggest the following:

 

"One of the best ways to help ELL students feel comfortable is to provide multiple opportunities for them to talk -- with a partner, in a small group, to someone who speaks their native language, to the teachers. Creating time for students to talk regularly is essential but it is more nuanced. Teachers need to observe and adjust accordingly as they notice students participating or not participating fully in various activities."  This quote connects back to the article that I found about colorblindness.  I think a lot of it relates to that topic, since students will be able to see the value of the student's cultural and individuality.  I strongly believe that the students in the classroom will be much more accepting and understand of the student, as well more likely to help them out with teaching them English.  I've really learned that there are so many areas that being fully accepting of students of other races can be really benefical for the student's well being.

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Ohio Teacher Suspended Over Racist Facebook Post

Ohio Teacher Suspended Over Racist Facebook Post | Culture and Race in the Classroom | Scoop.it
Ohio teacher Dr. David Spondike, 51, was suspended with pay Monday after posting a racist Facebook rant about Black trick-or-treaters, reports the Daily Mail. Spondike, a former production assistan...
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

In order to add some additional perspectives to this project, I thought I would add some research about the consequences of having biased or racial opinions while being a teacher.  Other scooped content stresses the importance of creating an environment that students feel comfortable in is very important, and that teachers are told repeatedly how important it is to ensure that students are able to express their qualities that make that person a shining inidividual.  

 

The teacher in question hails from Ohio, and wrote a post on Facebook stating that he hated 'ghetto'/African American trick-or-treaters, and referred to them as the 'n-word' a couple of times in that Facebook post.  After all of the research that I've completed about race in the classroom, I wonder if he thought about the consequences of writing that post would have on him.  I don't think that it's okay at all that he wrote this post, regardless of being a teacher or not.  But I especially believe that as a teacher, part of your job is to be a role model for your students to look up to.  I don't know how he is ever going to be able to connect with his students of a minority background from this point forward.  He is definitely not going to gain their trust, and I think that trust is one of the fundamental qualities that students share with their teachers.  

 

I think this example just further emphasizes why teachers need to be culturally and racially conscious.  If he had the type of discussions that are suggested by the teacher activity I posted, I doubt that he would have said what he did.  This just goes to show how necessary it is for all teachers to be on board with completely shedding racial beliefs and accepting, understanding, and treating all students equal to one another.  Will research to find another article also illustrates what happens when there are racist teachers in a classroom.

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Colorblindness: the New Racism? | Teaching Tolerance

Colorblindness: the New Racism? | Teaching Tolerance | Culture and Race in the Classroom | Scoop.it
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

As I mentioned about a previous post about colorblindness, I was going to do some more research about this concept of "colorblindness" and how it shouldn't be the method used to teach chidlren in a classroom.  Although I was initially confused as to why this wasn't a good method to use in the classroom, this article from an informative website for classrooms to be culturally aware made me realize why.  Colorblindness is harmful because of its "failure to see and acknowledge racial differences makes it difficult to recognize the unconscious biases everyone has. Those biases can taint a teacher’s expectations of a student’s ability and negatively influence a student’s performance."

 

I'm very surprised with myself for thinking that colorblindness was a good idea previous to doing this research.  I had always felt that making all students feel the same was going to be the right answer for creating equality in the classroom.  However, I've realized that if you make everyone the same, you take away their unique characteristics that make them stand out from others.  Since a lot of a child's values and beliefs comes from the culture of their family (particularly related to racial and other culture specific norms), I now believe it is not right to tell students that they are all the same and discount some of their important values.  Instead, as a teacher I should be ensuring that every child's race is being addressed in the classroom, that everyone feels as though they are being represented in the lesson plans in class (especially in relation to literature and history), and that each student feels comfortable embracing the qualities that set them apart from others and makes them unique.  That seems like the best possible classroom a child of any race, white included, can be placed.

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Teaching Teachers to Reflect on Race

Teaching Teachers to Reflect on Race | Culture and Race in the Classroom | Scoop.it
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

As I mentioned in previously scooped content, I think that the best way to combat stereotypes in the classroom is to first ensure that the teacher does not believe these stereotypes or hold politically incorrect beliefs about certain people.  I strongly believe that everyone is a product of the environment that they grow up in, and since so much development happens for children while they are in the classroom, a lot of how they view the world can potentially be a product of their teacher's beliefs.  This article posted from a classroom facilitator for pre-service teachers on the NEA (National Education Association)  website elaborates on this belief and strongly aligns with how I feel about education.

 

Very similar to the Narrative Reports that we had to do for this class, the author of this article mentions that race NEEDS to be addressed by pre-service teachers.  They have to be aware of any prejudices they may have.  Being afraid of sounding ignorant or prejudiced is not an excuse for not sharing how one may feel.  I think that this is a great approach.  I strongly believe that in order to really break down any stereotypes, they need to be addressed, discussed, and then after a period of reflecting, addressed again to see if there has been any change in attitude.  If pre-service teachers feel as though race, for example, should not be addressed in the classroom, the article fires back at this by saying, "hearing the stories, learning from the experiences, and hearing some of the painful episodes that people of color encounter, may help to enlighten those who want to avoid race-related topics."  I think that introducing concepts that pre-services teachers might feel prejudiced about such as this may really help encourage them to understand why they need to break down the stereotypes that they hold.

 

Finally, one thing that I took away from this post was to be careful using the term 'colorblind.'  I had always assumed that it meant that you ignored color and treated all students the same.  Instead, through this post I've learned that it "can imply that there is something wrong with not being White, or that there is something embarrassing or insulting about acknowledging the racial identities of their students.  With the best intentions, colorblindness inadvertently renders students of color invisible."  I believe that this statement is a bit too extreme, because teachers who are even making an attempt to be 'colorblind' in my eyes are doing their best to avoid race and focus on schoolwork, which is what is most important.  It reminds of me the video I found a while ago about the teacher who holds all of his students to the same standard.  However, when the post stated 'colorblindness' the way that it did, it made me realize that I should find another term to call what I'm describing and that I should look to find a deeper understanding of race and other stereotypes and how they relate to the classroom environment.

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An Education in Equality: Intimate Explorations of Diversity in America

An Education in Equality: Intimate Explorations of Diversity in America | Culture and Race in the Classroom | Scoop.it
“An Education in Equality” is a documentary short that presents a coming-of-age story of an African-American boy who attends a prestigious private school in Manhattan. Includes photographs and the ...
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

Also something I already posted in class, but I think the teacher in this brings a great perspective about race in this.  Often times we hear that minority children "did well for a student like them" in the classroom, but he emphasizes the importance for minority students to be treated to the same standard.  Great video that I found on Pinterest.

 

To elaborate on the original blurb that I wrote about this video, I think it really brings some great points up to consider.  First of all, I really like what the teacher said about race and how it relates to performance in the classroom.  I think ensuring that minority students to do well is important, especially if there is a clear socioeconomic divide found within the classroom.  However, sometimes I feel as though teachers say that a particular minority student did great when they got a 'C' on an exam instead of failing, simply because 'for them that's good,' and yet hold students who are white to a higher standard.  The African American teacher focused in this video emphasizes that he doesn't care what race you are.  He is going to hold every student to the same standard.  An A is an A, and a C is a C all the same to every single individual in the classroom.  

 

I really believe that hearing this boy's experience with being pushed hard in school to achieve the same as his non-minority peers paired with a teacher's strong devotion to holding every single student to the same exact standard is a really big key in helping create a colorblind classroom.  I strongly feel that every student is more likely to succeed when they are being compared to their other peers equally.  This video provides great inspiration to do this.

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