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Classroom Culture, If I say teaching is much more than creating lesson plans and delivering them to your student, then it would be entirely right. It is a big responsibility to deal with the new generation, and the impression you leave on them. “Classroom culture” refers to the environment in which students and teachers interact.
Positive classroom culture creates an environment where students feel involved and are part of something really great. It has become one of the vague terms which are easily neglected in many classrooms. Improving classroom culture is the responsibility of a teacher, who should ensure that they are creating a better learning environment for their students.
An environment where no one is judged based on race, color, language, or interest or where everyone feels safe and secure irrespective of their history.
“A bunch of teachers here, they think they know what’s wrong with us. But they don’t know. If people want to help us, they have to see what we have been through, not from what their own experiences tell them” Billie, a teen speaking at her high school about her teachers.
Differences in Classroom Culture
No two students can be the same even if they share a lot in common. First of all, if you really want to foster cultural awareness, you must know the cultural differences that may exist in a classroom and how to create an environment to make everyone feel respected and valued. Here are the common cultural differences:
It is essential to recognize the impact of skin color on students and how it can affect students’ perceptions towards each other and themselves. Ethnic differences are much common in all immigrant groups and remain for generations.
Understanding these differences can make you more involved in your student’s interests and outlooks.
Not everyone worships in the same way and some even don’t worship at all. So, you should familiarize yourself with the religious background of students.
Language barriers must not become educational barriers. It also does not mean you are expected to speak every language. However, you can make accommodations for those who can speak English.
- Financial status
The economic status of a student can impact their learning. You must be aware of the financial pressures of a student and treat them accordingly.
The sexual orientation of a student or gender identity can become a conflict in their lives. Make sure it doesn’t become a point of contention in the classroom.
Classroom Culture Overcoming Stereotypes
To boost the effective engagement of students towards learning, teachers must know their students and their academic abilities individually. It is also not a good practice to build a view against a student based on their prior experience with other students with similar backgrounds.
It is also very common that most teachers appreciate the academic performance and abilities of Asian American students and fail to identify how even a “positive” stereotype doesn’t remain positive when it presses students and is not built for them individually.
Every Voice Should Be Heard
Classroom culture is more about how teachers and students communicate and how one student communicates with another. In both cases, culture can only be optimized when all the students participate in class discussions and share their opinions. If some students are silenced and don’t contribute to the in-class discussion,
it can affect their learning experiences. When few students feel uncomfortable sharing their voices, then class also becomes stale and boring as teachers would know only a few voices do all the talking.
In a classroom, where all the voices are contributing and heard constantly, it gives a chance to teachers to push a student and appreciate their opinions.
Classroom Culture Endless Culture War
In all this, America’s history with race, discrimination, and fight over how schools are handling it continuously heat up. It is associated with the seemingly endless culture war. The assertion that educators are using in a significant number is somehow inspired by Critical Race Theory.
Critical race theory is a concept that regards racism as a social construct embedded in policies and legal systems. It goes beyond individual prejudices and has triggered a rush of political reactions in the many States of America. It is creating a massive discrimination system in educational institutes.
If we consider how learning becomes effective, then culture is vital as it plays a central role in learning. It is not only based on communicating and receiving information but also shaping the thinking process of groups and individuals.
A pedagogy that appreciates, responds to, and celebrates every culture in the classroom gives full and equitable access to education for students of all cultures.
Culturally Responsive Teaching
Culturally responsive teaching is also a pedagogy that recognizes the necessity of including students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning.
Yet black and brown students often face racist stereotypes from other students and teachers. They feel the racial threats that occur most when students feel at the risk of experiencing a negative racial stereotype regarding their race. This leads to the lowering of their overall performance and affects them mentally.
Stereotype threats also have profound effects on students’ learning and achievement behavior, mainly when this negative stereotype is targeted to the intellectual competence of students.
It might look okay once, but when it becomes consistent, then it affects the students deep down like they start to spend less time preparing for a task, become antisocial, or avoid taking part in a class competition to prevent failure.
This can only be sorted out with culturally responsive teaching, where a teacher recognizes students’ cultural differences and makes them feel comfortable in the classroom environment with diverse cultures. Moreover, teachers have the power to consciously and intentionally strengthen the identities of students Classroom Culture.
Creating an environment that mirrors black and brown students’ achievements is crucial in better learning. Creating inspiring role models in the classroom can debunk the myth that only particular groups participate and do well. Moreover, allowing students to maintain their cultural identity as well as excel in school is also great.
Culturally responsive teaching can make students feel a sense of being included, invited, and considered. It may look challenging for you as a teacher, but you can make it with little effort. Here are a few strategies for culturally responsive teaching.
- Embrace the prior knowledge of students
Keep in mind that students are not blank slates. Being a teacher, you must embrace students to draw on their prior knowledge to contribute to group discussion. This provides an anchor to learning. What about taking a different approach to the literature which is being taught in classrooms? This can be way much effective.
- Encourage students to leverage their culture
Classroom Culture, not all students come from the same background. In a culturally diverse classroom, you must encourage students to share their voices. For example, you teach an English class with ESL students, so keep focusing on finding ways to embrace their experiences, culture, likings, and dislikes.
How it can be possible to activate such behavior of students. You may choose a book to read which can relate to ESL students, and they could feel like they are the expert. When you have a diverse classroom including brown and black students, you should make efforts for the minority to feel like they are an expert.
- Build Relationships
Classroom Culture In a classroom, not all the students show interest in learning from all teachers because they may not feel valued. It’s essential that being a teacher, you must build a relationship with your students to ensure that they feel respected and valued for who they are.
Building such relationships with students of diverse cultures can make a community within the classroom and with each other, which is highly crucial in learning.
- Show interest in diversity
There is a long way to go toward fostering a culturally inclusive classroom by showing and expressing your own interest to be culturally aware. For this, you can ask students to share their stories and tell about their cultural experiences to the current lesson which is being taught.
Some students are more forthcoming regarding their cultural differences than others. Before assuming that a student is lazy, look at the cultural differences that might be the reason that influences a student’s ability to learn. Adjust your method of teaching to provide accommodation to every student.
- High expectations for ALL students
A culturally diverse classroom does not require you to expect differently from every student. You must maintain exact high expectations for all the students regardless of their culture. If some students need special accommodation, then go ahead, do it, but you must want all students to excel.
Expecting different for different students is not good teaching practice and can wrongly teach your students. It can leave a wrong impact on their brains that cultural differences evaluate the educational abilities of a student.
The teaching environment is equally important as what is being taught. Students thrive more to learn in an environment in which they feel comfortable. So, if you are focused on making and delivering lesson plans, then you must be missing an essential piece of the puzzle.
Ensure every voice is heard and considered regardless of any differences.