Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Teaching Diverse Learners" Blog

Hey all,
Nice to see everyone "virtually" this week. Great idea for vacation week! Now that the weather has shifted from rain to possible snow, I'm feeling a brief trip up north for skiing may be in the cards soon. Here are my thoughts on the Brown article.
As I read, I made some comments and asked myself (like Deanna) "how do I see culturally responsive teaching in relation to Johnson, Delpit, and Bartolome?"

1) As soon as I started reading the article, I was quickly faced with the feeling that the authors were writing in a utopian state where they thought teachers have all the time in the world. "Positive Perspectives on Parents and Families" and "Culturally Mediated Instruction" made me feel this way. They want us to "conduct home visits?" I think that, in general, this is asking a lot from teachers to go to the homes of students from different cultures to (sip on a cup of tea and) discuss their heritage and how we can better educate their children. If I were to conduct surveys and needs assessments for my students and write it in their parents' native language, I would be writing it in 53 different languages! (Some districts conduct community walk-throughs where teams of teachers head out to pre-appointed homes of students to carry-out this function in a more time-efficient manner.) I feel Delpit would have many reservations towards this line of thinking. She may agree, however, if there was an agreement made between teacher and parent that the teacher was going to teach their kid to function in the larger society.

2) "Communication of High Expectations" left me with no suprises. It reminded me of a course by Research for Better Teaching and a book, "The Skillful Teacher."

3) "Learning Within the Context of Culture" could have been written by Bartolome.

4) I agree with Deanna that "student-centered instruction" may be a bit confusing. Student-centered or direct-instruction: that is the question...kind of like "Deal or No Deal." A balance of the two and "Teacher as Facilitator" may be the answer. Like almost everything else, every thing in moderation is effective.

Hope everyone is enjoying their week off. Maybe we'll "talk" again soon.


Lesley said...

So I, too, wonder what to do with the theories that seem to be so utopian. I have come to reconcile that theory is only theory, and without practice it means very little. But practice is only practice and without theory, it too is quite empty. So maybe our job as teachers is to take the core principles and make them into frameworks that work with our students, in our classrooms...

I talked about this a bit in the article I shared with you last term. You can link to it here:


Dave said...

Yes, I think that makes much more sense as a "Reflective Practitioner." Kind of like when my team facilitates cultural celebrations where students bring in all types of food (from their cultural backgrounds) and share with the rest of the team. We spend an hour or so in a large "gym-type" room and eat all sorts of food from around the world. The problem, though, is that the load is usually carried by a select group of students. I wonder, now, how to get more kids and parents involved?

JennyG said...

I agree we need to take these core principles and work them inot our teaching and classrooms. I guess what I am looking for is how do we do this. In our readings so far we keep reading about what not to do. Every so often an example is given of a truely exceptional teacher that has done (something)... and a single concept is explained. When do we discuss implementation? Or perhaps share ideas on what we do in our classroom already that works? I know I have to change but I feel lost because I don't know the next step to take. I guess what I am saying is I read this article that explains what to do but I can't follow the recipe because I am missing some ingredients.

Cynthia Navarro said...

I agree with you Jenn! These articles are a great source of inspiration, they inspire us, as teachers, to try a bit harder, to reach the community, parents and staff, to include everyone, to acknowledge culture, etc. however they offer little help when it comes to the "how?". My hope is that by reading these articles I will have an awareness of how important is for students to feel included and genuinely respected.

Dave, I actually have been in so many "cultural activities" where either I bring food or other parents bring food and everyone eats, has a good time but no one even asks Why is this dish a representation of your culture? Why this dish in specific? etc. It feels more like "Let's go eat, and pretend we know each other and then go home as culturally oblivious as we were" kind of celebration!
Believe me, I know how it feels and what you're saying is true, so how can we make it more GENUINE?