For teaching to be successful at any given stage, there should be an effective management of the classroom. This can be done through showing respect for the diversity that exists in the classroom situation. Diversity entails physical attributes, beliefs, gender, ethnic and cultural background, styles of learning and age among others (Dowdy & Delpit, 2008). The communication in the classroom setting is also of immense importance because through it, the students are able to reach out to the teacher and their peers while the teacher can be able to deliver the content in a manner that the learners will find easy to follow.
This calls for the incorporation of effective management skills and promotion of good communication in class (Kassem, 2004). Respect can only be achieved if the teacher and the students communicate well and avoid dispensation of prejudicial materials (Snow & Fillmore, 1999). In addition to this, there should be some connections between the teacher and the students individually so as to enhance understanding of the feelings and personality of the students (Dowdy & Delpit, 2008). The relationship between what is learnt and their application to the daily lives is paramount in eliciting excitement and the enthusiasm to learn among the students.
This paper looks in depth at these important parts that go into making the process of teaching and learning a success. The evaluation of these factors have been based of the fieldwork activities done by Ulrich, which are a one-on-one encounter with the learners and outside the classroom and the building of connections by the new teacher Introduction There are a myriad of challenges in the classroom that a teacher faces due to the diverse nature of many schools today (Snow & Fillmore, 1999). The number of students has increased and issues pertaining to gender and disability are rife in many schools.
Communication therefore becomes a vital component of the teacher’s day to day teaching activities as well as the learning that takes place in the classroom (Kassem, 2004). The teacher has to recognize and analyze the cultures that the learners come from so as not to appear or be prejudicial and thus affect the smooth learning process, an issue that makes communication in such diverse classrooms to be challenging (Snow & Fillmore, 1999). The different cultures of the teachers may also prove to be an influence on the communication in the classroom thus affecting the manner in which the teacher has to deliver his/ her content.
Promotion of positive behavior in students and achievement of good results are only possible if there is efficacy on the part of the teacher which is a constituent of good management in the classroom (Cummings, 2004). Generally, the realms of classroom management include the management of content, the conduct, and management of the covenant between the teacher and the students. Management of the content entails the skills that spans all activities and subjects taught in the class while conduct management entails the beliefs appertaining to people’s nature.
The knowledge of people’s diversity should be integrated with some philosophies of instruction so that teachers can have a more effective and better way of handling their classrooms (Cummings, 2004). Management of the covenant between the teacher and the students regards classroom as a system that is social in nature and that the roles of the teacher and the students do shape the teaching- learning environment but is informed by the culture within which the school is found
(Dowdy & Delpit, 2008). This calls for close relationship between the community and the school so that the school can be dynamic enough to cope with the dynamic needs of the society. For a school to be qualitative, the effectiveness of the teacher and the achievement of the student must be enhanced through the creation and strengthening of interpersonal skills for instance as seen in Ulrich’s journal entries. The learner has to feel wanted and treated as an important person.
Central to this is communication between the teacher and the students such that in case of errant behavior, there should be an agreement on how the punishment can be meted, both the student and the teacher can solve it or the whole class can participate in deciding what punishment befits a given misbehavior (Kassem, 2004). This helps in the building of trust between the teacher and the students since the teacher cannot now assume a supervisory role but the learners become individually responsible for their own actions.
Importance of language and identity in the classroom Perceptions of a given language or given languages and how such perceptions affect the classroom situation is of essence to the teacher as expounded by Dowdy & Delpit (2008) who say that the visibility of a language is just like the visibility of someone’s skin color. Dowdy & Delpit say that the judgment of a person’s intelligence, class and status can be based on their language. Those who speak Englishes other than the standard or other languages other than English are treated as being inferior.
In the classroom, language and what it contributes towards identity is very important and the way to address the problem of inadequacy in one’s beliefs and attitudes is by letting them know that they are not inadequate but just different from the rest (Dowdy & Delpit, 2008). Students need this bit of encouragement since without confidence in themselves and their apparent lack of acceptance derail their performance in studies. The best way to go about this is by incorporating language studies in the curricula which will thus make the students appreciate the diverse languages that might be found in the classroom situation.
The students’ home languages should also not be negatively referred to because it will tend to make them reject all that the school offers (Dowdy & Delpit 2008). The assertions made by Dowdy & Delpit imply that language marks the culture from which a student comes from. It further highlights the cognitive and socio-economic position that the student hails from and that the acquisition of the language considered to be of power may help the learner acquires a better social and economic standing.
However, the urge to learn a new language is all within the feeling of the student. Whether he/ she learns a new language depends on him / her and not the teacher. This calls for student-centered approach to appeal to the needs of the learner as opposed to the teacher centered approach which the student may find very unpopular and fail to co-operate. The teacher must be ready to induct the learners in understanding the culture that accompany a target language that he/she wants them to understand because language is a microcosm people’s culture.
If it is English language that they are being introduced to, then the home-used, formal and the professional forms must be made known to them (Kassem, 2004). Dowdy & Delpit further indicate that there is a clear connection that between identity, race, school success and the language a student speaks. Students of Englishes other than the standard English for example most African Americans have a different view of themselves. Their dilects may one time or another make their teachers, peers or other people in th community to make judgements on their academic capabilities.
These writers found out that Afro-American kids do not switch their codes as easily as the others when they enter different environments that require the use of formal or professional language and the teachers have to learn to accept their culture and, through acceptance, these kids will learn to code-switch as easily as other students not from different cultural background. Importance of making connections Research has established that those teachers who show acceptance, support and care to the students are essential in the students’ learning for they create an enabling learning environment.
The basic aim of the school as argued by Noddings (1994) is to grow and nurture people who are caring, loving, competent and lovable. Students will only be able to care for themselves and others only if they are cared for. Those teachers who know how to care are good in establishing good relations with the students although caring and making good relations are two different things for caring relations involve an element of mutual understanding and exchange of feelings that result to making of connections thus bringing some bonding between the student and the teacher.
To make connections can be very hard since both parties must learn how to accept each others weaknesses and at the same time learning must take place. Most curricula in teacher training do not provide for how to facilitate good relationships between the teacher and the student. There is no provision for interpersonal relationship skills in the curricula making it hard for teachers to foster good relations with the students.
Teachers who learn how to replenish their emotions have been found to be enduring even as many leave the teaching profession because of the inability to create enabling environment for student-teacher relationship (Noddings 1994). Generally, caring works in an intrinsic manner so as to establish the right emotions which in turn make the children to appreciate the content in the best way possible. How do we create the intelligence arising from correct student emotions and how can teachers be more caring so as to develop the right emotions hence intelligence in their pupils?
Drawing from Gruwell’s example, classroom management, which involves building the right emotions, is not all about seniority in class level and neither is it about handling the best or gifted learners. Gruwell was given the less gifted ninth graders making the school that she taught to have some racial boundaries whereby the group that was favored was recognized and the other students left out. The “dumber” kids were looked down upon by both the teachers and the parents of the students who were gifted.
The less gifted learners tended to be left out even in matters of great importance like access to some resource materials as seen in Gruwell’s case whereby she had to buy some copies of books herself (Gruwell, 2007). Students also need to have a connection between what they learn and their daily lives that is what they learn should have a connection with their real lives. They have to get what they are learning means to them, how it relates to them directly or indirectly (Gruwell, 2007). Information has to be given to them as carefully as possible so as to arouse some interest in them.
In the journal entries in the fieldwork by Ulrich, the filing in of the students on the robot activity by the students (Engineering) made the students get excited about the idea. Their going to the geology department made them see things in a different light via practical melting of rocks and so forth. This reinforces the point that information which comes about due to communication is vital in changing the attitudes of the learners and thus making the teaching-learning experience enjoyable to both the teachers and the students.
It is important to know the cultural background of the students because it might explain their personalities and thus make the teacher attend to them in a better manner (Lomawaima & McCarthy, 2006). If for instance the learners are asked to write about their families, they are likely to write that which makes them dull or insecure and so on, based on their expectations, feelings and memories. From such, writings, the teacher is able to draw an informed idea on why the students act the way they do which in the long run helps the teacher to assist the learner in the best way possible and help them improve their performance.
Building respect in the classroom Respect means a lot to learners at all stages for they all want to be treated by others including teachers just as they would want the students to treat them. Teachers need to know that how they treat their students is exactly how the students will portray their attitudes towards them. This includes being nice to them, treating them equally, avoiding degrading remarks, being gentle and polite, courteous and minding one’s own business.
The behavior exuded by the teacher is directly proportional to the respect they are accorded as can be seen in Shobe’s journal (Lomawaima & McCarthy, 2006) on correctional education. Musicians were not identified as being respected by any students from any culture perhaps because of their dressing and other mannerisms while such people as the teachers, parents and nannies were cited as the most respected by varied student. This is the direct result of love and respect that the identified persons showered on the students in addition to the encouragement they gave them in their academics.
Encouraging respect can thus be said to be a very important endeavor so as to have an orderly classroom environment. It is the main ingredient in creating an environment in which the learner does not feel threatened but motivated to explore their academics to the highest levels. The learners must respect other learners and the teacher so as to enable progressive learning to take place. This is part of the realm of teaching as opposed to academic work alone because some learners may have the problem of not showing respect to others but do want to be respected by others.
This demands teaching of the right way to expect respect from other learners as well as the school community (Gonzalez, 2001). Respect of individual students also entails making them feel accepted despite their differences from the rest. They should be taught that their unique attributes give them an opportunity to contribute what is of value in a special way, a way only capable of being exploited by their kind alone. Many students go to school knowing too well what they want to achieve in their academics meaning that teachers are just but helpers in making them realize their dreams (Gonzalez, 2001).
This means that they already have some attitudes as they enter the school either from other schools or from home. Some do not like the school because of waking up early, others do not like academics and some do not like teachers who are not helpful in their teaching especially where they have not understood. This calls for the teacher’s intervention in matters pertaining respect to the students who will find it easier to listen to what they are being taught. They should feel respected which will make them want to learn that which their respectful teacher requires of them.
In a diverse classroom situation, building respect can be achieved through literary studies that purpose to bridge the cultural gap among the students and between them and the teacher (Dowdy & Delpit, 2008). English teachers get most challenging moments in choosing the literary materials that are incorporative for a trusting, and respectful classroom environment is possible if only the teacher regards the different cultures in the classroom setting. There should be literary materials that offer different kinds of protagonists who reflect the society and appreciate other cultures while preserving some of the ideals from their cultures.
Students’ self-esteem is increased if the literature selected represents varied cultures and that this literature must be taught with acceptance and respect without any form of prejudice. Realistic goals must be set and discussed in the class based on thorough and informed research on the students’ cultural beliefs which might be of influence to their behavior for instance where some cultures require learners to listen to teachings and not air their views (Cummings, 2000).
In this way, the teacher will be able to establish the reason for the students’ laid –back attitude and not treat it as impudence which might jeopardize their mutual respect. The teacher, in an environment like this, cannot achieve the objective with ease because he/she has to bring the student to accept that their opinions are valued and anticipated whether correct or wrong. Literature with implicit cultural material for instance pronunciation of the students’ names in correct way and leading the whole class to accept such pronunciations is the inception of respect in that class.
In addition to this, the learners should not be asked to voice the opinions or beliefs of their race, culture or gender because there might be some stereotypes that will be raised thus affecting the classroom balance (Noddings, 2004). Should there be a need to speak of other cultures; the students need to be taught how to respond to such culture-sensitive topics so as to be devoid of stereotypes. Different modes of teaching should be adopted for literature with diverse cultural content because the students who are diverse understand the subject of discussion using different modes.
They can be seated as individuals or in groups so as to create an interactive environment, told to write on diverse cultural matters and so forth. The use of non-standard English texts which are full of idioms, slang, and so on present challenges to students from diverse background and the teacher therefore needs to avoid them at all costs since the students may feel that their needs have not been respected hence may show unruly behavior towards the teacher (Kassem, 2004).
In addition to this, more than one mode of teaching especially literary materials should be adopted since students from diverse cultures may not full read then respond to some literally materials selected. Other ways to improve respect in class include not over-using example from one culture or gender as well as making the assumption that those quiet students do not learn for among the Asians, for instance, keeping silent is a shows respect.
Humor that can be subject to a variety of interpretations should be avoided by the teacher and/ or the students because it might not be taken lightly by others thus putting the classroom manager’s respect in a questionable stand (Cummings, 2000). The study of literary materials is vital for showing the richness of the cultures from which the learners hail. Such materials should be carefully chosen so as not to embarrass or isolate some learners from others and worse still put them in doubt of the respect that the teacher and the other learners accord them and their culture.
This will in turn define the respect they wish to give back to their fellow students and the teacher. Conclusion From the evaluation of the requisites for an effective teaching –learning process shown in this paper, it is worth concluding that the relationship between the teacher and the learners need to be as warm as possible. The caring and loving attitude, which brings terrific results, should be adopted by teachers. They should also enhance acceptance of the diversity in the classroom by other students so as to build lasting friendships and avoid disrespect which has far-reaching consequences of both teaching and learning.
Stereotypical materials and too much focus on one culture, gender, race or individual is detrimental to effective classroom management.
Cummings, C. (2000): Classroom Management Strategies: Baltimore; Alexandria press Dowdy & Delpit (2008): The Skin that We Speak: New York; New Press Gonzalez, N. (2001): I am my Language: Tucson: Arizona University Press Gruwell, E (2007): Teaching with your Heart: New York; Harvard Kassem, C. L (2004): How to Develop a Caring Teacher: New Jersey, Mahwah Publishers Lomawaima, T & McCarthy, L. T (2006): To Remain an Indian: New York: Teachers College Press,
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