Continuing through the rest of this school year I hope to be much more conscious of what I am teaching to the students and its relevance for their lives. I want to be better at separating what is, culturally, a “real life and familiar example” as defined through my lens of experience, and what is actually relevant to the lives of my students.
I grew up in a middle class family in an accepting, but predominantly white area. My life experiences do not necessarily give me insight into the experiences of my students. I need to become a more critical teacher, and take my reflection a step further. I need to go beyond questioning the curriculum as it pertains to the developmental needs of my students with exceptionalities, and evaluate teaching expectations through a culturally relevant lens. I do not believe that students who have deep cultural roots should conform to educations white-normative standards. However, I am guilty of functioning through a skewed lens and definition of ‘culture.’
In the past I have identified ‘culturally relevant teaching’ as the goal I wanted to address as part of my personal growth plan. It was hard, because my view of ‘culture’ was narrow, and my classroom was very much not racially diverse. I struggled to separate culture, race and ethnicity. And since few of my students actively identify with their culture, or understand the importance of knowing their own cultures, I often avoided addressing the subject.
As I move forward I will continue to remind myself that culture, especially with my current class, is more reflective of lifestyles than religions or races. As such, I will need to look for more effective means of bringing culture into the classroom. My first step will be to expand my knowledge and resources regarding children’s literature. I have found that introducing new material through stories is engaging for many of my younger and lower functioning students.
However, it has been hard finding what I need in our school’s library. I have found a website that has an abundance of literature that seems appropriate. I will attempt to coordinate with the school librarian to expand our literary collection. Otherwise, I will purchase the books for myself.