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Cultural Sensitivity in the Classroom l Incorporating Culturally Sensitive Practices in the Classroom: l Examining why it is important. l How it can be achieved, particularly for English language learners. EDPY 413 University of Alberta Presented by: Sara Mc. Millan, Mike Brennan, & Amanda Pullishy
What is culture? l “. . . people with common origins, customs and styles of living, who share a sense of identity and language. Their common experiences shape their values, goals, expectations, beliefs, perceptions and behavior” Culture is “all those things that people have learned to do, believe, value, and enjoy in their history. . . the ideals, beliefs, skills, tools, customs, and institutions into which each member of society is born” There is your own culture and the culture of others. (Department of Developmental Services, 1997, p. 2). l (Sue, 1981, p. 37). l
Self-Cultural Awareness Why do we need to be critically cognizant of our own culture? l To understand the reasons for our actions and reactions; based upon the social constructions of our culture (Department of Developmental Services, 1997, p. 2). l l These social constructions can differ from culture to culture. To realize that the socially acceptable/ unacceptable social constructions within a culture are ‘natural and common sense’ to the people in that culture because they are continuously a part of their way of life; learned from an early age (Kellner & Durham, 2001, p. 170).
Self-Cultural Awareness Cont… Why do we need to be critically cognizant of our own culture? l To ensure we do not take the ‘natural, common sense’ practices for granted and become or remain ethnocentric. l l “. . . [people have a] tendency to regard one’s own cultural group as the center of everything and the standard to which all others are compared” (Department of Developmental Services, 1997, p. 3). To facilitate increased acceptance of other cultures by the realization that there are no right or wrong cultural beliefs (Department of Developmental Services, 1997, p. 4). l Increased willingness to learn cross culturally. l Provides an opportunity to quash unfounded preconceived notions, stereotypes and prejudices through this education.
Cross-Cultural Awareness So, why do we need to be critically cognizant of other people’s culture? l To facilitate awareness and understanding of other people’s actions and reactions (Department of Developmental Services, 1997, p. 4). l l Prevents misunderstandings due to a lack of awareness. To create a climate that is conducive to maximum teaching and learning; providing their culture is included in the classroom instruction (Villegas, 1991, p. 13). l Students not feeling isolated as ‘outsiders’ l Affective filter (Krashen) is lowered which promotes further engagement in the classroom (Nagle & Sanders, 1986, p. 11).
How can we facilitate self-cultural and cross-cultural awareness? l Culture shock activity l Can be “ a powerful learning tool” (Adler, 1987, p. 24). l Culturally Responsive Teaching l Inclusion of students' cultural references in all aspects of learning (Ladson-Billings, 1994).
What are the similarities and differences between the two scenarios? l Similarity: there is a cultural difference between comfort zones in both scenarios. l Difference: there is a language barrier that impedes understanding of the cultural difference.
Purpose of Activity l To demonstrate that in order to become aware of someone else’s culture, particularly the differences that may cause tension, we need to have a common language of expression. l Written and/or oral
Conclusion: l Culturally sensitive practices need to be implemented in the classroom to: l Create a climate that is conducive to maximum learning and teaching for all students. l Allow all students the opportunity to think ‘outside their box’ with a different set of lenses (perspective), which will help promote cultural understanding and awareness.
Conclusion Cont… l Yet, this can only be achieved through a common language, which demonstrates how language and culture are inextricably connected (Brown, 2000, p. 123). l Thus, teachers face huge challenges: l Need to be aware of the various cultural climates in the classroom. l Need to teach the curriculum content and English target language in a culturally sensitive fashion.
Specific Target Culture: Somalia l The remainder of the presentation will: l Examine the educational, religious and political structure of Somali culture. l Mention the struggles that Somali children may face in Canadian schools because of their culture. l Provide empirically based, culturally sensitive strategies that will be useful for teachers teaching Somali English language learners in their classroom.
"All Somalis know that gangsterism isn't to brag about. The kids that I was growing up with [in Rexdale] would wear baggy [track] suit pants, and a little jacket from Zellers or something, and they'd walk into school, and all the cool kids would be like, 'Ah, man, look at these Somalis. Yo, you're a punk!' And the other kid won't say nothing, but that kid, probably, has killed fifteen people. ” -K’naan
Somalia l. Pop: Approx. 10 million l. Located in Horn of Africa l. Government: Transitional Federal Government is externally recognized, but holds very little power l. Regional and local governing bodies exist and control various regions of the country. l Republic of Somaliland l State of Puntland
Civil War in Somalia Clan-based fiefdoms fighting for power l No central government l 400 000 died from Violence, Hunger, Disease l 45% of the population internally displaced or has fled to other countries l Country has lost much of its commercial and farming communities l
Civil War: Effects on Education Suspension of all educational activities l 90% of school buildings completely or partially destroyed l All school records lost l Supplies looted l Absence of standardized curriculum l Lack of trained teachers l Children traumatized by war l
Somali Students in Canada l. Religion l. Racialization l. Trauma
Religion l l Virtually all Somalis are Sunni Muslims Strong attachment between Islam and Somali national identity To have a Somali identity without Islam in Canada is difficult, face isolation from Somali community. Somalis feel very strongly about allowing religious practices and accommodating for them in public schools.
Islam in Canadian Schools Lack of uniformity in accommodating religious needs for Somali students (e. g. , Hijab, Ramadan) l Physical education, Health/Sex education conflict with Sharia law l Islamaphobia l First-generation immigrants more likely to oppose secular education system l
Racialization Somali national identity focuses more on religion and nationality than race l Often pressured to develop persona of Afro-Canadian peers l Somalis racialized as blacks, but identify as being Muslim l Important that schools promote awareness of Somali national identity l
Trauma and PTSD Refugee children often suffer from severe post-trauma and stress disorders, unlikely to learn well in traditional school environment l Trauma Exposure l Post-settlement l Discrimination l
Culturally Responsive Teaching Strategies 1. Involving the Parents 2. Communicating High Expectations 3. Involving and Valuing the First Language and Culture 4. Examining The Effects of Cultural Differences 5. Are Student-centred and Constructivist Adapted from: (Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching, 2006)
1. Involving the Parents l Translate important documents into the parents’ first language and use a translator, if necessary, for communicating with parents, especially early on. l Find out about the parents’ experiences and expectations of school systems, and explain differences in curriculum, discipline, and parental involvement between Canadian and Somali schools. Ask what they expect for their child’s experience (Kahin, 1997). l Build a relationship with the parents and let them know that you are on their side. You can do this through progress reports, meetings, community events, and home visits if possible (Griffiths, 2002). l Use a parent contract and school contract to show support and to make expectations explicit. Include explanations for school discipline procedures, diagnostic exams, curricular requirements, and relevant information that the parents may be concerned about (Kahin, 1997). Adapted from: (Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching, 2006)
2. Communicating High Expectations l Make your expectations explicit. Show your students what you want them to accomplish. l Challenge them. Although English language learners may not be ready for all of the language-dependant schoolwork of their classmates, find ways to have them complete the same curricular requirements. l Give specific praise for their accomplishments (Griffiths, 2002). Adapted from: (Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching, 2006)
3. Involving and Valuing the First Language and Culture l Relate curricular materials to issues that are meaningful and relevant to Somalia, Somali-Canadian communities or cultural groups. Ways to do this include: thematic units, problem solving lessons, or project based learning (Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching, 2006), (Kahin, 1997). l Learn key vocabulary, such as greetings, in the student’s first language or use the student as a resource for creating classroom displays and materials with Somali words (Kahin, 1997). l Attend Somali community events, if possible, and talk about them with the students. Adapted from: (Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching, 2006)
4. Examining the Effects of Cultural Differences l Teach and talk to students about diversity, not just multiple perspectives or cultural differences, but different needs, learning styles, strengths, and skills, e. g. : fair does not always mean equal (Mc. Loughlin & Oliver 2000), (Griffiths, 2002). l Provide different forms of support: l Peer support: buddy system - students are assigned an academically strong Canadian partner to do a variety of tasks together such as studying, homework, school orientation, etc. (Biman & Trickett, 2001). l Academic and language support: students are assigned a partner in another grade, or meet with a caring adult such as an aide, coach, counsellor, other teacher, or administrator who can give them extra academic support (Biman & Trickett, 2001), (Griffiths, 2002). Adapted from: (Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching, 2006)
5. Student-centred and Constructivist Strategies l Use cooperative learning in class, especially for new material. l Use strategic grouping to maximize cooperative learning. l Use formative assessment to decide whether or not students are familiar with concepts before assigning independent work. l Provide various options for completing an assignment. Adapted from: (Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching, 2006)
Other Teaching Strategies for Somali students l Providing Opportunities for Healing l Avoiding Racialization l Accommodating Religious Practices Adapted from: (Kahin, 1997), (Griffiths, 2002)
Providing Opportunities for Healing: Refugee Students l Do not assume anything about how much students want to talk about their experiences: let them decide for themselves. One way to give students this opportunity is through journaling exercises (Biman & Trickett, 2001). l Be prepared if students want to talk about traumatic experiences: Be or find "someone objective, yet caring, to talk to". It is important that students have a resource that is actually at the school. Teachers may benefit from consultations with mental health professionals (Biman & Trickett, 2001). l Create a classroom environment that is structured and explain all rules and expectations to your students. Not only can this make students feel safe, it allows them to focus on developing language and social skills instead of struggling with unfamiliar classroom procedures (Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching, 2006).
Avoiding Racialization l Do not include “race” in any way as a criteria for grouping strategies. l Do not assume that Somali students will identify with other African students or even other Somali students (Biman & Trickett, 2001). l Learn as much as you can about individual students to give them the best support and avoid stereotypes or over-generalized information (Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching, 2006).
Accommodating Religious Practices l Be flexible with dress code expectations, including clothing for physical education. l Do not assign work that requires physical contact between genders, even in the classroom. l Respect Islamic prayer times by excusing children from class during these times and direct them to a space where they can pray. l Direct Islamic students to a private place where they can wash before or after prayer. l Be prepared to direct fasting students to a place where they can spend their lunch hour. l Recognize significant Islamic calendar dates in the same way that you recognize calendar dates for other religious or cultural holidays. (Kahin, 1997), (Griffiths, 2002)
In Closing. . . l It is important for teachers to remember to: l Be self- and cross-culturally aware. l Realize and understand the struggles that students from other cultures may face in Canadian schools. l Ensure that teaching strategies employed in the classroom are culturally sensitive and are based upon the needs of the students.
Resources for Edmonton Teachers Bredin Institute Suite 500, Capital Place 9707 -110 Street Phone: (780) 425 -3730 Catholic Social Services Language Assessment, Referral and Counselling Centre (LARCC) 10709 - 105 Street Phone: (780) 424 - 3545 Website: www. catholicsocialservices. ab. ca/services immigration. asp Edmonton Immigrant Services Association Suite 201, 10720 -113 Street Phone: (780) 474 -8445 Website: http: //eisa-edmonton. org/ Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers Suite 101, 10010 -107 A Avenue Phone: (780) 424 -7709 Website: www. emcn. ab. ca Millwoods Welcome Centre for Immigrants Suite 355, Tower II Millbourne Shopping Mall Millwoods Road & 38 Avenue Phone: (780) 462 -6924 Website: www. mwci-edmonton. net The Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton (SCCSE). 13160 – 127 Street. (Old Wellington School) Phone: (780) 441 -9878 Website: http: //www. somaliedmonton. com
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Presented By: Sara Mc. Millan l Mike Brennan l Amanda Pullishy l