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Culturally Resposive Teaching Essay

In this essay I will use the given scenario to analyse and critique the teaching practice it outlines, drawing on the learning theories and themes outlined in the Professional Practice paper to explain and validate my ideas and thinking. I will consider the approaches in the scenario and offer alternatives, justifying my opinions with reference to theory, literature and my own emerging philosophy. Throughout my essay I will give consideration to the use of culturally responsive and inclusive pedagogy, demonstrating an understanding of the role Treaty of Waitangi within this practice. Throughout the scenario the theory of behaviourism is reflected in the teachers practice. Behaviourism sees learning as the establishing of connections between two events, and theorists view environmental factors as influential to behaviour. This sort of associative learning is called classical conditioning (Papalia, Olds & Feldman, 2009).

This theory is reflected in the teacher’s classroom management practice when the students all move outside to begin their day with a jump-jam session immediately after the bell rings, with no verbal instruction given by the teacher. It is also evident when they move back into class and sit and wait for the teacher, again with no verbal instruction issued. Another example of behaviourism theory is shown when the teacher uses reinforcement and punishment, known, as operant conditioning when she comments on Mark and Cathy’s jump jam prowess as a form of motivation. Behaviourism theory is also evident when the teacher is issuing instructions and displaying the timetable on the whiteboard as the directions are teacher lead. Within the realms of classroom management the strengths of behaviourism are obvious; the children know the sequence of events and can move from one activity to the next with little disruption and classroom management is, as described by Wong, Wong, Rogers & Brooks (2012), ‘a set of procedures that structure the classroom so the students know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it…’ (p. 61).

This could, I believe be disconcerting for new or diverse students and to act in a more culturally responsive manner I would advocate a pictorial display to aid understanding (Davis, 2012). I feel whilst using the reward/punishment technique during the jump jam may have motivated Cathy, who received positive reinforcement, the negative comments issued by the teacher certainly demotivated Mark. This criticism clearly affect Mark’s self-efficacy and as a result his motivation was lessened (Le Francois, 2000).

I would have been inclined to direct my motivational techniques towards the class as a whole and perhaps let Mark and Cathy motivate the class by allowing them to take joint responsibility for the running of the ‘Jump Jam’ programme for that day (Hill & Hawke, 2000), using the constructivism theory, this, I believe would have been more motivating as the learner is actually involved in the learning process. I also believe the teacher missed an opportunity to incorporate the Māori learning theory of Ako, reciprocal learning. Instead of leading the ‘Jump Jam’ herself she could have facilitated this by allowing Cathy and Mark to lead the session (Bishop, 2008).

The humanist approach to learning is also evident in many areas of the teachers practice presented in the scenario. The Humanist approach to learning focuses on the child’s whole self, looking after the social and emotional needs of the learner as well as their cognitive abilities. For example children’s basic needs of safety, shelter, food, love and respect must be met before their academic needs can be addressed (Krause, et al, 2012). During the scenario the teacher is chatting to the students before school, in doing this she is showing she is interested in them as people thus creating a supportive relationship between herself and her learners. This relationship, the humanist theory suggests, will motivate her students and is ‘the key to effective education’ (Krause, et al, 2012, p. 233). Within the theme of classroom management the humanist theory is applied as the teacher allows the students to discuss the roles and responsibilities and the tasks that will need to be outlined to make camp go smoothly.

She is inviting the students to be part of the process and taking a non-directive role, listening to the students’ ideas and involving them in the learning process, and in turn boosting their self-esteem. I believe that the teacher applied the humanist theory to her classroom management skills when she used the rhetorical question to redirect Clark. However, in my opinion this would have been an ideal opportunity to allow the Māori boys to have a voice and encourage them to share their knowledge and learning style with the class, regarding the cooking of eels, showing respect for their culture (Le Francois, 2000). She would also have shown cultural responsiveness and demonstrated her understanding of the Treaty principle of partnerships as outlined by the Ministry of Education (2012). In critique, I also feel that the teacher could have used the humanist approach in her classroom management skills to ensure that the Somali girls have a better understanding of what a recreational camp entails.

The girls emotional needs have not been met as they clearly have no understanding of what a New Zealand school camp is like thus are frightened and unsure so they are not engaged in the pre-camp tasks (Le Francois, 2000). Personally, I would have made sure I knew about the girls backgrounds before they came to school. This would have enabled me to develop a supportive relationship, perhaps giving the girls the confidence to approach me with their concerns and allowed me to alleviate their fears concerning camp. The social constructivist learning theory is defined as being learner centred with the learner actively involved in the process and underpinned by social interaction. Different learners will learn in different ways to suit their individual needs. Language is also an important aspect of this theory, as it is through language that the learner will construct their new ideas (Krause et al., 2000).

In the scenario the teacher uses the social constructivist approach to classroom management when she invites the children to brainstorm the safety rules for the cookout. In allowing them to co-construct the rules by discussion and social interaction she is actively encouraging the use of a collaborative approach. In using this approach the teacher is allowing the students to ‘brainstorm for prior knowledge’ (Cobb, Forbes & Lee, 2012). This theory is also evident in the teacher’s instructions for the camp diaries as she allows the students time to reflect on what they would like to include in their journals and also how they would like to present them. In encouraging the use of pictures and diagrams she has allowed those who may not be able to contribute by writing an opportunity to contribute. This is an example of ‘learning for all’ (Barker, 2008) and is facilitated by the teacher in incorporating the diverse learning styles of her students (p. 31).

This approach shows that she has an understanding of the participation principle outlined in the Treaty of Waitangi, which states that all students be given equal opportunity to contribute (M.O.E, 2012). Social constructivism is also apparent during pair and group activities where the students are participating in peer assisted learning and assessment when testing each other on their vocabulary. The teacher further applies this theory when she collaborates with the students by calling them to her desk and scaffolding their learning. This approach gives students self-governance over their learning and can be beneficial as it allows students to choose a style that suits their particular needs. However, in the scenario it was apparent that some students were off task and I feel that the students may have benefited from a more humanist approach to classroom management and would have moved around the classroom and offered help and looking to scaffold students where necessary.

Cultural responsiveness is evident at various points throughout the scenario and the teacher demonstrates this when she attempts to include all cultural groups in the camp concert. I would critique this by pointing out that, although this may show she is culturally aware, it does not imply that she has any cultural understanding as the Somali girls are ill informed about the concept of ‘camp’ and can only draw on their own experience of what a camp means to them. When the Somali girls displayed concern for what camp meant a suggestion would be for the teacher to facilitate sharing of prior knowledge and understandings early on in the lesson. This would have potentially allowed for the Somali girls fears and concerns to be alleviated , thus addressing their emotional needs and allowing them to move on with their learning. Doing so would have aligned with a humanistic approach by considering their interconnected needs as a whole person.

Cultural responsive pedagogy also requires the teacher to reflect on their practice (Gay, 2000). This practice is observed when the teacher contemplates ringing the Somali girls’ parents to offer them support and explanations regarding the school camp. If practicing culturally relevant pedagogy the teacher would, Fraser & Paraha (2002) point out ‘take the personal concerns of students seriously and examine social issues with them that were drawn on the students’ cultural positionings…’ (p. 57). Furthermore, I believe a behaviourist approach to classroom management when allowing the girls to research on the computer, perhaps giving them some pre viewed websites to explore, may have enabled Aaheli to feel that her culture was valued. The outcome in the scenario could well have made her feel ostracised and even made the other girls become culturally biased. Throughout the scenario reference is made to the ethnicity of groups of students who seem to stay in these cultural groups within the classroom.

The teacher doesn’t appear to interact with the Somali girls at all and the Māori boys only receive a negative response when they show enthusiasm for aspects of camp. Although the students can learn cross-cultural understanding from personal experience I would advocate using the social constructivist approach to cultural responsiveness and model good practice to my students by using inclusive and cultural responsive pedagogy inviting the Māori boys to demonstrate their cooking skills and perhaps going a step further than the teacher in the scenario and actively encouraging the parents of the Somali girls to attend camp meetings (Whyte, 2008). The teacher did, however, collaborate with a parent and invited them in to help with the preparation of the camp concert, promoting the concept of Whanaungatanga (M.O.E, 2011).

Furthermore, I believe this pedagogy would encompass the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi as outlined by the M.O.E. (2012) as partnership, protection and participation. This essay has used the scenario and analysed and critiqued the teaching practices it outlines by drawing on the learning theories and themes outlined in the professional practice paper using them to validate ideas and thinking. It has considered the approaches in the scenario and offered alternatives, justifying these opinions with reference to theories, literature an emerging philosophy of my own. Throughout the essay I have given consideration to the use of culturally responsive and inclusive pedagogy and demonstrated an understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi.

References
Barker, M. (2008). How do people learn?: Understanding the learning process. In C. McGee & D. Fraser (Eds.), The professional practice of teaching (3rd ed.) (pp. 17-43). Melbourne, Australia: Cengage. Bishop, R. (2010). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. In C. McGee & D. Fraser (Eds.). The professional practice of teaching (3rd ed.) (pp. 154-172). Victoria, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia Pty Ltd. Cobb, D., Forbes, D., & Lee, P. (2012). Lecture 1: TEPS222-12C (NET) [PowerPoint slides]. Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato. Davis, B., M. (2012). How to teach students who don’t look like you: Culturally responsive teaching strategies (2nd Ed.). California, U.S.A: Corwin. Fraser, D., & Paraha, H. (2002). Curriculum integration as treaty praxis. Waikato Journal of Education, 8, 57-70. Gay, G. (2000) Culturally responsive teaching: Theory,
research and practice. New York, U.S.A: Teachers College Press. Hill, J., & Hawk, K. (2000, November). Four conceptual clues to motivating students: Learning from practice of effective teachers in low decile, multicultural schools. A paper presented to the NZARE Conference, Waikato, New Zealand. Krause, K., Bochner, S., Duchesne, S., & McMaugh, A. (2010). Educational psychology for learning and teaching (3rd Ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia Limited. Le Francois, G. (2000). Psychology for teaching (10th Ed.). Calfornia, U.S.A: Wadsworth. Ministry of Education. (2011). Tātaiako: Cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education. Ministry of Education. (2012). The New Zealand curriculum update 16. [Professional practice and inquiry 2: Strategies for effective teaching, course resource]. Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato. Online reference TEPS222-12C (NET). Papalia, D., Olds, S., & Feldman, R. (2009). Human Development (11th ed.). New York, U.S.A: McGraw Hill. Whyte, B. (2010). Culturally diverse classrooms and communities. In C. McGee & D. Fraser (Eds.). The professional practice of teaching (3rd ed.) (pp. 173-186). Melbourne, Australia: Cengage. Wong, H., Wong, R., Rogers, K., & Brooks, A. (2012). Managing Your Classroom for Success. Science & Children, 49(9), 60-64.


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