¶ … maintain a culturally relevant and anti-bias program in a classroom setting as well as the identification of some principles and strategies for working effectively with English as second language students and what type of support or training teachers might need to implement these principles and strategies. Finally, a description concerning some ways that teachers can control the classroom environment to enhance cultural relevant learning and specific examples of materials and activities that might be used is followed by a summary of the research and important findings concerning strategies for developing anti-bias programming in the classroom in the conclusion.
Ways that a culturally relevant and anti-bias program can be established and maintained in a classroom setting
Humans are naturally biased creatures and the process begins early on. For instance, Barta and Winn (1996) report that, "Children begin to develop biases and prejudices long before they reach our classrooms. Research shows that children as young as two years of age begin to develop discriminatory perceptions of bias and prejudice which, if unchallenged, may later develop into overtly racist or other discriminatory behaviors" (p. 28). Likewise, bias can creep into a classroom curriculum in a number of ways, and in some cases, it is even possible for teachers to unconsciously introduce their own biases into the classroom. For instance, Davis (2008) emphasizes that, "Bias and stereotypes learned early and unchecked or unchallenged in youth are the values and beliefs that middle-class, European-American, preservice teachers bring into Culturally Relevant Teaching discussions" (p. 296).
Even in classrooms with little or no minority representation, teachers can promote anti-bias curricular offerings by following these steps:
1. Develop authentic identities.
2. Know, respect, and value the range of diversity among people.
3. Build the capacity for nurturing relationships with others.
4. Understand, appreciate, and respect differences and similarities more broadly.
Learn to identify and challenge bias among themselves and others.
6. Commit to the idea that everyone has the right and responsibility to share and care for earth's resources.
7. Build identities; acquire skills and confidence to work for social justice in classrooms and communities (Davis, 2008, p. 296).
Principles and strategies for working effectively with English as second language students
Curricular offerings designed to work effectively with ESL students extends learning by concentrating on the specific reactions that others have concerning cultural and racial differences (Barta & Winn, 1996). In this regard, Barta and Winn note that, "The problem is not the differences between people; rather, it is how people value and respond to these differences. Cultural bias leads to prejudicial attitudes which result in discriminatory behavior" (1996, p. 28). An anti-bias curriculum introduced into classrooms serves to provide young children with the information and guidance they need to overcome the biases that precedes prejudice and discrimination (Barta & Winn, 1996).
According to Edwards (2011), the following principles should be followed for English as second language students:
1. Each child will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities.
2. Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity, accurate language for human differences; and deep, caring human connections.
3. Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts.
4. Each child will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions (para. 2).
Support or training needed to implement these principles and strategies
One of the main themes concerning anti-bias education in the classroom is the need for parental support. In this regard, Barta and Winn (1996) emphasize that, "Parental participation in the education of their child must be seen as vital. Students not only gain an increased understanding of culture, but also learn to develop an attitude which respects and celebrates cultural differences" (p. 28).
Controlling the classroom environment to enhance culturally relevant learning
A classroom environment that is conducive to learning is an absolute necessity for enhancing culturally relevant learning (Colvin & Tobler, 2013). Besides classroom management techniques, peer mentoring is frequently used to facilitate learning in cultural diverse classrooms (Colvin & Tobler, 2013).
Materials and activities that might be used to enhance culturally relevant learning
It is important to avoid representing other cultures through artifacts only (including holidays) and there is a need for a holistic view of others in order to provide young learners with a complete picture of other people (Barta & Winn, 1996).…
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