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Running head: REFLECTIVE ESSAY

Reflective Essay John Hennessey Walden University

Professor Richard A. Smith Enhancing Learning Through Linguistic and Cultural Diversity EDUC-6650I-2 April 15, 2012

REFLECTIVE ESSAY Reflective Essay The purpose of this paper is to document the ways my personal attitudes and beliefs about diversity issues influenced my classroom practice prior to taking this course. This paper

also documents the ways I have since deepened my knowledge and understanding of the needs of diverse populations, as well as the ways the content of this course will help me in my quest to make my school and classroom more meaningful and effective for all students. In what ways did your personal attitudes and beliefs about diversity issues influence your classroom practice as this course began? I teach Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to primary school students in an international school in Beijing, China. My school takes pride in its bilingual program that attempts to combine elements from both East and West, with East generally meaning Chinese language and culture. One of the ways that my school attempts to do this is by requiring all primary students to learn both English and Mandarin. However, while most of the primary students in the school speak either English or Mandarin as a first language, there are also many students who have a different native language. The largest population of these students are from South Korea. They are usually at the earliest stages of acquiring both English and Mandarin when they first enroll in my school. Teaching them is generally my greatest challenge in my practice. When this course began, I viewed the diversity issues in the 18 different classes that I teach in a much different way than I do today. With my schools emphasis upon only the two cultures and languages (English and Mandarin), I viewed affirming them as important, but not central to my role as an ICT teacher. I saw my role as teaching ICT knowledge and skills, not language. Furthermore, I did not view the other native languages or cultures of my students as

REFLECTIVE ESSAY needing to be affirmed, other than perhaps through the schools Global Community Day, our annual celebration of different cultures. I did not have a subtractive approach to teaching culturally and linguistically diverse students as described by Stritikus (Laureate Education, Inc.,

2008b); I just did not generally take into account other cultures or languages in my teaching. My ICT curriculum has many links to the curricula in other subjects, so I do have some links to my students Chinese culture curriculum, however I do not recall ever having incorporated elements from other cultures in my lessons. At times, I also utilized bilingual students to explain to their peers how to complete the lessons activity, but I viewed doing so as a way to help the English Language Learners (ELLs) at the beginning stages of acquiring English to understand what I required for the lesson, not as an approach to in any way also affirm their languages or cultures. In what ways have you deepened your knowledge and understanding of the needs of diverse populations? As a result of taking this course, I now have a much clearer understanding of the needs of the ELLs in my classes and have a much more sympathetic attitude toward them. I understand that they need me, as one of their teachers, to affirm both their culture and native language (Nieto & Bode, 2010). I also have a much deeper appreciation for the fact that they need my respect and patience (Nieto & Bode, 2010)they need me to understand that any lack of achievement on their part may be related to background knowledge rather to intellectual ability (Short & Echevarria, 2005, p.10) and that [f]ocusing on instruction delivered through an unfamiliar language all day long is mentally exhausting (Short & Echevarria, 2005, p.13). I also understand that they need to learn academic English across the curriculum, and that they need instruction tailored to the level of English development that they are functioning at (Short & Echevarria, 2005).

REFLECTIVE ESSAY

In what ways will the content of this course help you in your quest to make your school and classroom more meaningful and effective for all students? The content of this course will help me in my quest to make my school and classroom more meaningful and effective for all students in a number of ways. First of all, it will help me by giving me confidence and direction with regard to how to meet the needs of the ELLs in my classes that I have highlighted above. It will give me a variety of strategies that I can use to affirm the culture and language of my ELLs and to make meaningful connections with them, thus increasing their motivation to become more engaged and learn (Nieto & Bode, 2010). It will help me to understand how to support, with their native languages, their learning of the content and to make the content of the full curriculum accessible to them (Short & Echevarria, 2005). As Krashen and McField (2005) concluded, There is no doubt that, when it comes to English acquisition, native-language instruction is part of the solution, not part of the problem (p.10). It will also help me to know how to teach with language objectives for my ICT lessons in order to more purposefully teach English as I teach the content required by the ICT curriculum, and how to reduce their anxiety by tailoring my instruction to the level of English development that each student is functioning at (Herrell & Jordan, 2008). The content of this course can also help me to make my school as a whole more meaningful and effective for all of the students. Stritikus (Laureate Education, Inc., 2008a) emphasized that teachers should not merely consider how they are supporting ELLs in their classroom; they should consider how their school as a whole is supporting them. He suggested that as teachers become proficient at supporting ELLs in their classroom, they should take the initiative to lead the other teachers in their schools to seek ways to work collaboratively to better support ELLs across their schools. The content in this course will enable me to take initiative to

REFLECTIVE ESSAY share with the other teachers in my school what I have learned in this course as well as what I have found has worked well in my lessons. The purpose of this paper was to document the ways my personal attitudes and beliefs about diversity issues influenced my classroom practice prior to taking this course. This paper also documented the ways during the course that my knowledge and understanding of the needs

of diverse populations were deepened, as well as the ways the content of the course will help me in my quest to make my school and classroom more meaningful and effective for all students.

REFLECTIVE ESSAY References

Herrell, A., & Jordan, M. (2008). 50 strategies for teaching English language learners (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Krashen, S., & McField, G. (2005). What works? Reviewing the latest evidence on bilingual education. Language Learner. Used by permission of the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE). Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2008a). Characteristics of effective schools [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: Author. Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2008b). ELLs in today's schools [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: Author. Short, D., & Echevarria, J. (2005). Teacher skills to support English language learners. Educational Leadership, 62(4), 913.

REFLECTIVE ESSAY Walden University M.S. in Education Program

Formative Evaluative Criteria for Applications and Reflective Essays


Quality of Work Submitted Work reflects graduate-level critical, analytical thinking. A: Exemplary Work A = 4.00; A- = 3.75 All of the previous, in addition to the following: Assignment exceeds expectations, integrating additional material and/or information. B: Graduate Level Work B+ = 3.50; B = 3.00; B- = 2.75 All of the previous, in addition to the following: All parts of the assignment are completed, with fully developed topics. The work is presented in a thorough and detailed manner. Assignment demonstrates appropriate breadth and depth. Demonstrates a clear understanding of the assignments purpose. C: Minimal Work C+ = 2.50; C = 2.00; C- = 1.75 F: Work Submitted but Unacceptable F = 1.00

Adherence to Assignment Expectations The extent to which work meets the assigned criteria.

Most parts of assignment are completed.

Does not fulfill the expectations of the assignment.

Topics are not fully developed.

Key components are not included.

Assignment demonstrates exceptional breadth and depth. Assimilation and Synthesis of Ideas The extent to which the work reflects the students ability to1. Understand the assignments purpose; 2. Understand and analyze material in videos, readings, and discussions; 3. Apply presented strategies **May include, but are not limited to, scholarly articles, collegial Demonstrates the ability intellectually to explore and/or implement key instructional concepts. Demonstrates exceptional inclusion of major points, using creditable sources**, in addition to course videos or required readings. Demonstrates insightful reflection and/or critical thinking.

Assignment demonstrates minimal depth and breadth.

Assignment lacks breadth and depth.

Shows some degree of understanding of the assignments purpose.

Shows a lack of understanding of the assignments purpose.

Includes specific information from course videos or required readings to support major points.

Generally applies theories, concepts, and/or strategies correctly, with ideas unclear and/or underdeveloped Minimally includes specific information from course videos or required readings.

Does not apply theories, concepts, and/or strategies

Provides careful consideration of key instructional concepts.

Does not include specific information from course videos or required readings.

REFLECTIVE ESSAY
discussions; information from conferences, in service, faculty development, and/or meetings. . Written Expression and Formatting The extent to which scholarly, critical, analytical writing is presented in APA format; Standard Edited English ( i.e. correct grammar, mechanics). Work is unified around a central purpose with welldeveloped ideas, logically organized in paragraph structure with clear transitions. Effective sentence variety; clear, concise, and powerful expression are evident. Work is written in Standard Edited English. No prominent errors interfere with reading. Final Assignment Grade A: Exemplary Work A = 4.00; A- = 3.75 Ideas are clearly and concisely expressed. Ideas are not clearly and concisely expressed.

Represents scholarly writing in a correct APA format.

Work is well organized with correct APA formatting throughout.

Somewhat represents mature, scholarly, graduate-level writing, with APA generally followed.

The quality of writing and/or APA formatting are not acceptable for graduate level work. Major points do not reflect appropriate elements of communication.

No effort to express ideas clearly and concisely.

Elements of effective communication such as an introduction and conclusion are included.

Elements of effective communication such as an introduction and conclusion are not included. Work is not written in Standard Edited English. Contains many grammatical or mechanical errors F: Work Submitted but Unacceptable F = 1.00

Work is written in Standard Edited English with few, if any, grammatical or mechanical errors B: Graduate Level Work B+ = 3.50; B = 3.00; B- = 2.75

Work contains more than a few grammatical, or mechanical errors. C: Minimal Work C+ = 2.50; C = 2.00; C- = 1.75

It is expected that all applications and reflective essays will be submitted according to the assignment due dates indicated. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the faculty member if contacted by the student prior to the due date describing extenuating circumstances. Updated: 11.16.06