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Running head: DIVERSITY STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFS

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Statement of Informed Beliefs Anny Firth Evin Fox EDUC 204 Families Communities and Culture Online Spring 2013

Running head: DIVERSITY STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFS Diversity Statement of Informed Beliefs Introduction

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How can two words have the same spelling but sound different, like read? Why does the gh in enough say uff but the gh in though make the long o sound? These are just two of many questions that we as educators will be asked, that just do not have a clear answer. Just as we have many exceptions to the rules in the English language there are also many children whose learning styles will be the exception to the rule. Each child has a unique make up, their own individual background, culture, learning style, cognitive, and developmental abilities and so much more. As an educator I will work collectively with students, parents, administrators to find the most dynamic way to for each individual student to gain an exceptional education. In the following paragraphs I will outline my beliefs in the following five areas, students ability to learn, teacher expectations, students social ecology, cultural diversity instruction, and curriculum for all learners. My beliefs in each of these areas with have a direct influence on how I teach. It is my responsibility to seek out the abilities of each student and help them grow. I will take on this responsibility and hold my standards high for myself as well as those I influence. Students Ability to Learn Each student is an individual and therefor has an individual ability to learn. With several different processes in the paradigm for how each of us gains knowledge, I as a teacher must be able to distinguish such learning styles and provide adequate tools to enhance a childs learning. A childs capability to learn will be influenced by a childs nutrition, body chemistry, home environment, classroom surroundings, and many other parts of a childs chronosystem. A childs learning can fluctuate on a daily depending on their environment. As a child develops his/her learning will grow to incorporate

Running head: DIVERSITY STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFS

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aspects of several different styles. Both teacher and student must work in unison to ensure that each child receives the utmost education. Children naturally seek after learning; they are dauntless explorers, questioners, however crave boundaries and structure. I believe that children learn by doing, nevertheless to succeed academically I believe lessons must be introduced in a structured manner. My classroom will incorporate both teacher and learner directed curriculum so as to bring out the natural learner in each child. It is also very important to use direct (prepared lessons) as well as indirect instruction (modeling) to emphasize a students abilities. Howard Gardner (1999) recommends that teachers adapt the curriculum to the eight different multiple intelligences (Berns). As a teacher I will seek out a childs individual abilities and intelligences and cultivate them. I will also strive to learn a students disabilities and seek ways to strengthen such areas of a childs learning. Often a student will allow their disabilities to define them. I however believe that each disability has a positive and can often be changed into an ability with creative and logical thinking, as well as encouraging the child problem solve through their trials. Teachers Expectations Think you can, think you cant either way you will be right, these are the words of Henry Ford. The things you think of yourself will eventually become your reality. Just as a childs personal thoughts influence a childs cognitive development so will the expectations of their teachers. I will set the expectations of each student high. With such high expectation comes a responsibility for teachers to provide the hand holds of knowledge, the foot holds of discipline, and the safety harness of encouragement. Each of these skills will enable the child to climb to and beyond their goals of success. With each step of success students will gain self- confidence and eventually the words I cant will no longer be a part of their vocabulary. Expectations must be as individual as the students. Teachers must acquire the knowledge of what drives a child to be able to set appropriate goals for each student. Each student s expectations

Running head: DIVERSITY STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFS

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should be composed of goals in each of the three structures, (cooperative (students working together to accomplish shared goals), competitive (students working against each other to achieve goals that only few can attain) and individualized (one students achievement). Achieving short term goals heighten a students self-esteem and give a student the encouragement to endure the long road to their long term goals. Once a child feels he/she can accomplish something, the sky is the limit. As a teacher I will also teach students coping skills. With high expectations (and life) comes failure. Children will encounter negative situations; they will make mistakes, however teaching a child skills to problem solve and turn a mistake into a learning experience will allow them to grow. At times a teacher must step back and allow a student to problem solve, by doing this a child will gain self confidence that will benefit him/her in many other situations. Learning good coping skills will also detour a student from turning to drugs and alcohol when the stresses of education seem overwhelming. When a teacher sets high expectations for a student they must also hold the student accountable for their actions. Through accountability ones self-worth and self-esteem will increase. Students must be held accountable for their part in the learning process. School should involve a level of fun however learning requires work, hard work. Achieving greatness requires a student to have selfdiscipline in their studies and class time. A student is responsible for doing his/her part just as teachers and schools should be held accountable for their roles. Teachers should have a high level of accountability as well, the NCLB Act holds teachers responsible for a students learning and achievement outcomes (Berns). Teacher accountability should also include the behavior we model. I am in strong agreeance with the theories of Albert Bandura in that students learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling. The theory has often been called a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation (LearningtTheories/Bandura). Therefore I believe in not only holding high standards for my students but for myself as well.

Running head: DIVERSITY STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFS

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I believe a child will rise or fall the standards set before them, therefore preconceived judgment or biases or labeling must never be a part of any classroom. While I feel a students developmental abilities and disabilities should be taken into account when setting individual expectations, I do not feel their background, behavior, culture, or past should. I feel it is very important not to compare one student to another. It is my responsibility to set behavior standards high across the board. Academic goals should be set to be challenging but obtainable. It is my goal to encourage each student to achieve academic and social greatness. Students Ecology Theory Evidence continues to mount in favor of the notion that when "schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more." (SEDL 2002, CCS 2003) A students macrosystem, including family, culture, and beliefs have a direct influence on a students ability to learn. How many times have we heard the phrase we are all products of our environment, this includes teachers, administrators, parents, and students. Each of these individuals are all stakeholders in a childs education and all come with our own set of beliefs, values, morals and backgrounds. As a teacher I must respect and be able to learn about each child and what drives him or her. Communication with each stakeholder is key for a students success. Parental involvement has a direct influence on a childs learning. How parents feel their child is being treated or taught can make a significant impact on a childs learning. Parents should feel they are valued member of the education community and that their beliefs and ideas are respected. Dr. James Comer (2004) found that involving parents of culturally diverse children will help parents overcome distrust of schools. (Berns) I believe we should strive to involve all parents to some extent. On the other end of that spectrum are the parents who do not wish to be involved. Such parents feel that when a child is at school they are the schools responsibility. A student cannot be punished for the lack of effort of his/her parents. Children from this environment will often feel that their efforts at

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school are not valued because they do not receive positive feedback at home for their success at school. Children from these environments also have a tendency to misbehave in school, due to the fact there is no accountability of their actions at home. Fear is also a part of a students social ecology that will largely affect his/her learning. If a child is experiencing anxiety form being bullied, his thoughts are most likely focused on what events will take place at the next recess. Fear can also take place when a child is being abused at home, often children do not want to leave school or take home homework due to a fear of being punished for not finishing their work at school. With the recent school shooting tragedies, fear is becoming a large factor within the classroom. Schools are being more proactive and installing more security systems and rehearsing lock down drills more often, all of which increase students anxiety. Fear can also take place in a cultural diverse classroom; if students are not taught to respect other children for their difference they tend to fear others who are not like them (the majority of this fear takes place in K-2nd grade). Fear will affect each and every student within the classroom in one way or other. It is crucial for teachers to address these fears; their feelings must be validated and understood. Appropriately addressing these fears can be an opportunity for some to learn problem solving skills as well as build self- confidence skills. Being involved in the community outside of the classroom will have a positive impact on a childs learning. When a student sees you outside of the classroom such as in church, coaching a sporting event, or local fundraiser you become more than just a teacher. Children often behave in different ways outside of school as well. Watching a child outside of the classroom can give teachers a greater understanding of that child in which will allow them to adjust to their different needs within the classroom. I feel parents also value ones ideas more if they are willing to go the extra mile and seek out the different cultures in their area. As an educator I feel it is my responsibly to have a positive influence in all areas of a childs life both in and out of the classroom. Cultural Diversity Instruction

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I believe teachers must also take in consideration the community in which they teach, to ensure the planning and the delivery of lessons such are in line with a childs environment. Students in a poverty area would likely not benefit from a lesson involving stock exchange examples. Teachers in a rural farming area must also take into consideration the time of year. For many students in such areas calving and harvest seasons can mean long, late nights for a child. Children are also asked to take on more responsibilities at home when the parents are working such hours. Such factors must be taking into account when teaching however it should not limit the expectations we have for each individual student. What a tremendous opportunity it is as a teacher in the United States of America to be able to teach students who come from several different cultures and backgrounds. I value such opportunity and believe cultural pluralism is an asset to any classroom. As history and other social studies are being removed from the elementary curriculum, it is becoming more difficult for teachers to embrace and teach other cultures. Teachers must be flexible enough to integrate cultural lessons into the core curriculum. Every child needs to feel valued; integrating lessons that highlight each student and allow them to share the things they value about their self will allow students to feel special. Teachers can also integrate different cultures into the classroom by providing math lessons that involve the economics of other countries, art from around the world, and stories from different cultures that enhance a childs learning. With the new core standards writing will become a larger part of the curriculum, allowing the students to research their family history and write about it will allow the students to discover who they are and share those cultures with the class as well as enhance their writing skills. The NCLB Act of 2001 provides for federal grant money to state education agencies for the purpose of helping to ensure that limited English proficient children develop high levels of academic achievement in English and meet the same academic achievement standards as all children are expected

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to meet. (Ryan & Cooper 13th Edition) Assessing ESL students in English is part of Cultural assimilation. Many schools have taken on the melting pot theory that we should blend all cultures into one common culture. By doing this many of the unique qualities of the diverse cultures are being lost. Children and parents alike feel they must forgo the beliefs of their homeland to fit into American schools. I have a strong belief that schools should strive for a multicultural education in which one approach will be used to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. (Ryan & Cooper 13th Edition) Using a multicultural education will allow our schools to move towards Cultural pluralism. I strive to model my class using the salad bowl theory, in which will allow all students to maintain the uniqueness of their culture without judgment. As a teacher I will strive to give equal opportunities to all students. This will include but not be limited to allowing students the time needed to answer questions, allowing time for one on one teaching for children you are unable to understand concepts when taught at a faster pace, as well as implementing new procedures as they become available. Knowing and understanding your students cultural background can help make your classroom more inviting and can increase students academic achievement. (Ryan & Cooper 13th Edition) I will honor such backgrounds by gaining the knowledge needed to highlight each culture within my classroom. I will provide actives and celebrations from all cultures I encounter. Curriculum for all Learners Each individual student has a unique set of abilities as well as disabilities; these can and should change often. As these change so should a teachers curriculum and delivery. Each individual student has the right to receive curriculum that will fit his/her learning styles. Several psychologists have studied the way one learns and have found multiple learning styles. Howard Gardner (1999) has established eight different intelligences each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Students may have attributes that encompass skills from more than one of the intelligences. It is the responsibility of the teacher to identify each students abilities, disabilities, and learning styles. Teachers will also encounter the

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opportunity to teach children with severe disabilities or physical impairments. It is imperative that as teachers we avoid handicapism (assumptions and practices that promote unequal treatment of a student because they are different physically, mentally, or behaviorally) in any form. Children with severe disabilities will have an IEP for teacher to follow. A students IEP will include a childs level of education performance, long and short term goals, and any special procedures for caring for such child. (Berns) I will strive to have an informal IEP for each of the students I teach. Knowing a childs levels as well as setting short and long term goals for each student will be an asset to their academic success. Formal IEPs are reviewed on a yearly basis; however I believe that a students progress should be reviewed more often. Weekly assessments will give me the opportunity to reteach and strengthen students who are not meeting the expectations of the class as a whole. It is also very important to use assessments to challenge students to go above and beyond the limitations they have place on themselves. I will also re-evaluate myself on a regular basis. Am I following my philosophy of inclusion? Do I include each student in classroom activities regardless of their background, culture, behavior, home life, abilities, or disabilities? Is my teaching style including aspects from all learning styles? Do I mix up my delivery of lessons to include visual, hands on, musical, etc. aspects? Do I respond to each child in a unique way that fosters a positive self-esteem? Do I communicate with children on their level? Am I setting the expectations of my student so they are challenged but not over whelmed? If I am unable to answer yes to any of the above questions I must and will make adjustments accordingly. I will constantly be seeking new ways to meet the individual needs of each student to ensure they receive an outstanding education. Conclusion

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Teachers are leaders, coaches, encouragers, consolers, detectives, at times referees, and the list goes on. By using my skills in such areas and building on such skills daily, I will strive to provide an environment that will allow every child to learn and excel. I will use my belief in every students individuality to encourage self-confidence and individual success. I will also strive to give the students skills to work collectively to achieve greatness as a team. I believe students should be challenged and as a teacher I will give students the skill to endure trials and achieve a distinguished education. My belief is that a child should feel safe and welcomed, as they walk into my classroom each day. I believe that communication is extremely important, I will strive to uphold high standards of communication with students, parents, and all those involved in a childs education. By striving to uphold high standards in all areas of a childs education I believe every student will achieve success.

Reference Page Berns, R. M. (2010) Child, family, school, community (9th Edition) Belmont, CA: Wadsworth

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Ryan & Cooper (2013) Those Who Can, Teach (13 Edition) Belmont, CA: Wadsworth