As an educator in any school you have experienced a diverse range of students; from boys and girls, young adults, to immigrants starting a new life. In each classroom you will encounter and continue to encounter a different mix of student demographics. In order to be an effective educator you learn to adapt the curriculum and teaching methods to each unique situation.
In most teaching experiences the students are the usually the ones adapting to the surroundings, however in my current teaching position it has been myself that has had to adapt to the surroundings. Teaching in a different country brings whole new experiences and places you outside of your comfort zone. It is not just adapting to a new curriculum and surrounding, but adapting to a new culture, and in my case a religion that is highly present in my classroom.
Although my students do not differ from the other students in the classroom, does not make my classroom any less diverse. There is still a broad range of experiences and perspectives brought to the classroom that offers a powerful resource for everyone to learn more—in different ways, in new environments, and with different people. Every single person in this enormously diverse and ever changing system has the power to serve as an invaluable resource for all others, students, teachers and the community as a whole (Cummins, Brown & Sayer, 2007).
As educators we all have strengths and weaknesses in our practices. It is true that every day as a teacher you learn something new. It is those experiences that strengthen our strengths and help our weaknesses. According to Walden’s Diversity Proficiency Self-Assessment my strengths relate to understanding how cultures, family, and communities influence how my students understand, as well as knowing the needs of English language learners to support their learning. My weaknesses stem from meeting individual needs in various ways.
Teaching in a different country has allowed me to place myself in a situation where I can fully immerse myself in a different culture other than my own. Being culturally sensitive to their ideas has made my relationships with the students and parents stronger than I ever thought I would be. Something as simple as dressing in their traditional clothing can be a gesture of respect, especially to the parents. Some of my students have never been around western people before so dressing in an Abaya (traditional dress worn by women) can make the students feel more comfortable.
Aside from the way I present myself, my classroom setting has to be structured in a way that is acceptable as well. In the Muslim world they do not eat pork, or have anything to do with pigs; so finding an alphabet, and reading or singing songs about a farm has to be planned and alter to fit the culture inside the classroom.
My classroom usually has between twenty three to twenty five students ever year. In the past several years we have had to share Arabic teachers because we do not have enough. In this case being able to meet all twenty five students’ individual needs has been a struggle for me. Also having special needs in my classroom and no special needs program to help me, a lot of my extra energy was spent with them. I try to balance by having groups set up by academic level, but even within those groups I struggled to find ways to address all individual strengths and weaknesses.
Although I struggle with finding ways to ensure all my students are getting the appropriate instruction for each individual need does not mean my students to do feel a part of everyday life in my classroom. I still find ways to show my students that they can succeed. My goal is to help facilitate my students’ pursuit for knowledge and help them acquire the communication skills, problem solving skills, and critical thinking skills which will enable them to be life-long learners.
A major part that has helped me promote these skills in my classroom is through professional development. Collaborating with my colleagues keeps me focused and engaged on tasks inside the school and classroom. Observing different styles of teaching has motivated me to try new ideas in my classroom and when my students show excitement about trying new things I know that they are succeeding in their own way.
Not only does professional development help me become a better teacher but also the courses from Walden University. I have learned and adapted numerous ideas from other teachers and professors. The strategies and teaching English language learner’s courses have been the most influential.
As teachers, student success is also a priority. It is important to remember as a teacher that success is measured in different ways. Success can be getting a good grade and for another student it could an increase in involvement. Whatever the success teachers must be able to help each student reach their full potential.
In order for my students to succeed I must have goals set for myself. My first action is to continually grow in my profession. I want to be involved in new ideas and research that can enhance my day-to-day teaching. Keeping up with the latest information through courses, workshops, and professional journals can lead to more student interest and greater student success.
My second action is to vary my instructional techniques. Instead of getting to the routine of doing routines I want to vary my teaching methods and provide my students with a greater opportunity to learn. Instead of differentiating one or two ways I want to have a variety of ways that will allow for different learning styles. I also want my students to understand how to succeed. I want to provide my students with a success criterion so they understand how I will be grading their work.
The broad range of experience and perspectives brought to school by culturally, linguistically, and ethnically diverse students offer a powerful resource for everyone to learn more in different ways, in new environments, and with different types of people (Epstein & Sheldon, 2007). The growing diversity in classrooms encourages the development and use of diverse teaching strategies designed to respond to each student as an individual.
Cummins, J., Brown, K., & Sayers, D. (2007). Literacy, technology, and diversity: Teaching for success in changing times. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon. Epstein, J. L., & Sheldon, S. B. (2006). Moving forward: Ideas for research on school, family, and community partnerships. In C. F. Conrad & R. Serlin (Eds.), SAGE handbook for research in education: Engaging ideas and enriching inquiry (pp. 117–138). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.