California Educator

June/July 2019

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Raise multicultural awareness in the classroom A N G E L A D E R R A M O S Elementary school teacher Alisal Teachers Association A C K N O W L E D G E T H A T T H E W A Y we look affects the way we move through the world, which in turn affects our experiences, outlook and ways of being. Despite civil rights putting an end to legal seg- regation, many of us live or work in a segregated community. If you teach children who do not look like you, it is important to understand the impact of racial narratives that affect all of us. Children learn from what they see. We often see kids idealize and emulate heroes in media. If a child never sees a hero who looks like them, what is the implicit lesson learned? This is why teachers of color have great impact on students of color. Whether you are the same color as your stu- dents or not, examining your own experiences and biases is a basic premise in equity. Provide those heroes. Be mindful and inclusive of the protagonists in the books you use in your classroom. Most traditional popular protagonists are white males. Not all representation is equal, so teach criti- cal thinking and media literacy. Just as much as children and adults see heroes in the media, the opposite is true. If the only thing they know about Central Americans is what they hear on TV, many will believe that all Central Americans are MS-13 gangsters. Going deeper into understanding an author's purpose is absolutely appropriate in this case, as is teaching about point of view. Learning that there are multiple ways to interpret or expe- rience the same event helps students to navigate and accept differences. Have consistent expectations and create a safe culture A LY S O N H O B E R E C H T Middle school math teacher and AVID coordinator Garden Grove Education Association Connection: The more we know about our students, beyond a test grade or homework assignment, the more they begin to care about themselves and their success. They also begin to believe in themselves and care about others. I often share my passions, successes, struggles and growth. As I model my own vulnerability, I enable my students to share elements of them- selves. I assign real-world "concept connection projects" throughout the year. Completing these projects lets them prove their academic knowledge in a creative way and reveals what they are most passionate about in life. Consistency: When challenges arise with students, I say: "How can I help?" I hold silent space for them to think and respond privately. I actively listen to what they are willing to share. I remind them of my expectation to receive the same in return, and then offer two good choices. As students feel a repeated pattern of care mixed with consistent expectations, they feel comfortable and empowered. Culture: I often say, "Mistakes are welcome" in class when students share an incorrect or incom- plete answer. These words enable me to create a safe culture in our classroom. As students complete their work, they know the expectation is that they will bring a question or point back to class the next day. This reminds that questions and collaboration are the avenues to true appreciation and understanding. I celebrate and offer thank-you notes when students ask great questions or share high levels of thinking. Ed Sibby " I often say, 'Mistakes are welcome' — these words let me create an extremely safe culture, full of risk and reward." " If you teach children who do not look like you, it is important to understand the impact of racial narratives that affect all of us." 33 J U N E / J U L Y 2 019

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