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Ashley Kunkle

Culture and Inclusion


Reflection 4

Culture is something that surrounds us every minute of every day. It is a part of


who we are. Culture should be a part of our lives and we shouldnt have to change who
we are or hide our culture. For many students, the traditional school culture is different
than their culture at home; so as teachers, it is our job to infuse our students cultures into
our classrooms and our curriculum. If each teacher takes this initiative, the school will
move forward and become a multicultural community.

Reflecting on my own classroom, I feel it promotes cultural inclusiveness quite a


bit, not only with the language and teaching strategies used, but also the content. First, I
teach two SEI classes. SEI promotes using a students first language, when necessary, to
help develop English as a second language. The philosophy of this program is the first
way culture is brought in to my classroom. This prevents students from feeling like they
need to choose between identify[ing] with family and friends and disavow[ing] the
school or embrac[ing] school culture and fac[ing] emotional/social isolation (Bowman).
I discovered the value of using the first language to acquire the second when I taught
overseas. I could try to teach a concept for 20 minutes or I could just ask the student to
translate for one minute and it would click right away. I also bring in the social culture of

my students by having many collaborative and cooperative teaching strategies. Banks


states that the academic achievement of minority students increases when cooperative
teaching strategies are used instead of competitive techniques. Cooperative learning
pushes the students to work together. Making groups for the students forces them to
interact with others outside of their own group or culture and teaches them to
accommodate to others differences. Finally, I believe I bring culture in to the classroom
with my content. I do not simply focus on different cultures for one day, but instead we
do whole units focused on acceptance of others. I also ask the students to relate most
concepts and lessons to their own life, therefore melting the school culture in with their
home culture. I try to infuse the students interests in to my teaching as well. To teach
literary devices we use recent (appropriate) songs, I always encourage students reading
books they like and relate to instead of the dreaded whole class novel; these simple things
not only engage students in the learning but it brings them, culture and all, into the
classroom. Bowman discusses that some groups are more likely to avoid learning skills
associated with the white middle class, since their efforts will not pay off. I think this is
the foundation of education; we need to make it relevant to our students so they want to
learn and they see how these skills transcend into the real world. Bringing in their culture
can only do this.
One way I can improve the cultural inclusiveness of my classroom is by learning
more about my students. I made an attempt at it this year by having students write a
Reading Autobiography. This clued me in to if they read at home, if the reading culture is
present, and to strengths and weaknesses of my students. I think I need to focus more on
the individual student needs and I need to continue learning about them. I want students

to feel like what they are learning is important so my goal is to continually learn about
them and their culture so I can infuse it in to my classroom.
Outside of my classroom, I think our school as a whole promotes cultural
inclusion. Parents are brought in to the picture constantly. Our school does the typical
Open House and we have individualized parent teacher meetings. Our principal also
knows the importance of involving their parents. He holds monthly Coffee with the
Principal meetings for parent to attend and learn about the school and ask questions. Our
school is constantly inviting parents to award ceremonies or recognitions of their
students. I feel our administration and the school tries to involve the parents as much as
possible. One thing our school does not do it parent teacher conference night. This is
something I actually miss because it can be difficult to manage and contact the parents of
all D and F students. I would be making ten phone calls per day. Parent teacher
conferences are an assigned day that parents can count on to meet the teacher and talk
about their student. Our school sets up these appointments on an individual basis through
the inquiries of the teacher of parent. I think a lot of parents may get missed in this
process and some students will fall through the cracks.
As for the community involvement, our school is frequently participating in
community events. Just last week we helped with a clean up of our schools surrounding
community. We also participated in a community fair at the beginning of the year. We
bring in speakers from the community to speak as well. We have already had one speaker
talk about taking responsibility. As a staff, we participate in fundraisers and
community/charity runs every couple months. We make teams and support others in our
community.

In the end, this school is leaps and bounds ahead than my previous schools when
it comes to being global-minded and culture inclusive. Teachers constantly try to promote
a healthy school culture that can be transferred to the home culture. Many of our staff can
relate with the students cultures. We try to involve parents in the academic environment
as much as possible and we try to incorporate student interests through pep rallies,
speakers, and events on campus. Our school has a great foundation for an expanding
culturally inclusive future.

Works Cited
Bowman, Barbara T. Cultural Diversity and Academic Achievement. North Central
Region Educational Library, 2004. Web. 1 August 2015.
Banks, James A. Multicultural Education: Goals and Dimensions.