Flint Chapter 3, Getting to Know Students: Developing Culturally Relevant Practices for Teaching really made me think about the students in my own Student Teaching placement. We have students from Mexico, Colombia, South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China in our 2nd grade class, and I never realized how much I overlook their unique cultural experiences and backgrounds. The story about Bianca was heartwarming, but it would be unreasonable to, for example, label everything in the classroom in five different languages. The modifications would have to be more subtle and incorporated more smoothly into my lessons, such as reading books set in Korea or singing songs with Spanish words in them. Not only would incorporating their cultures into my lessons be more engaging for the class, but it would help these students to recognize that their culture is just as valued and important as traditional “American” culture. I also realized through the reading that my own cultural experiences serve as a barrier between my culturally diverse students and myself. And the idea of the “virtual school bag” was really interesting to me as well. As a teacher I must be receptive to students’ differences and recognize that not all of them hold the same beliefs, values, and customs that I do.
The book described quite a few strategies that I would love to try out in my own classroom. The multicultural texts of course, would be a great way for me to show my students characters, events, and settings that are familiar to them. The list of multicultural authors will be very helpful, because just because a book looks like an authentic multicultural text, doesn’t mean it is accurate. The idea of a “Literacy Dig” was adorable, and I think I have seen something like it in my own student teaching placement. Questionnaires and surveys would also be a great way to get into the minds of your students.
There was also some mention of codeswitching again, which is a topic that I am still unsure of. It is hard for me to see how using a “comfortable” language is going to help students practice and learn Standard English. Kidwatching was a familiar term brought up again in this chapter, referring to closely observing the students’ learning processes. I believe this is crucial in being an effective teacher.
As a teacher, I need to adopt a culturally relevant pedagogy, the “kind of teaching that is designed not merely to fit the school culture to the students’ culture but also to use student culture as it basis for helping students understand themselves and others, structure interactions, and conceptualize knowledge” (Ladson-Billings, 2001, p. 314).