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Running head: Reflection 1

Cultural Reflection

Dawn A. Garrett

Pittsburg State University

EDUC 551-93
Reflection 2

Abstract

The purpose of this reflection paper is to examine and understand the experiences that I have

dealt with in culturally diverse situations. This in turn will help me have the empathy and

appreciation of another individuals situation when entering a different culture. Learning to view

myself in another persons shoes will help me be a better teacher and all around person with

those in my community. Reflecting on past experiences also allows me as a teacher to use

resources necessary to include a childs culture in their learning experience and help them to

overcome the feelings of isolation.


Reflection 3

Cultural Reflection

In what setting have you found yourself where you did not know the cultural norms and

were at a loss as to how to fit in?

Reflecting back to times when I was in a position and I did not know what the cultural

norms were I remembered being very shy and unsure of myself. One situation I found myself in

was when I went to a Hispanic church. English was not spoken; therefore, I could not

understand what was being said. I could follow along and sing since they were familiar songs

we sing at the church I attend. In order to sing I had the choice to sing them in English or just be

silent and listen. I chose to be silent and listen.

During the service the female children performed a dance to music. The person I

attended with said that they do this frequently during the service. The girls wore traditional dress

while performing. I followed my friends lead when it came time to clap to the music or to be

silent. I was very thankful I had someone to go with that helped me to know what was expected

and let me know when and what to do. If I hadnt had my friend, I would have felt isolated and

scared. Even though I had my friend with me I still felt like a fish out of water, out of my

element and not sure of what to do. I did not like that feeling.

Why did you feel uncomfortable?

I felt uncomfortable because I could not understand the language, which also made me

experience the feeling of being isolated. Everyone around me was conversing amongst

themselves while I was dependent on my friend whom I was with. When she introduced me to

her friends after the service all I could do was nod and smile especially to those who only spoke
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Spanish. The people that knew English was a different story because they would talk and ask me

questions. This made me feel more comfortable and relaxed.

How were you able to overcome your awkwardness?

One thing that I believe that helped me overcome my awkwardness is my ability to start

up a conversation and ask questions. Fortunately, I love to learn and I looked at this situation as

a learning experience. I eventually found an older lady who could speak English and I asked to

join her at her table. She agreed and welcomed me warmly. We struck up a conversation and I

thoroughly enjoyed listening to her and asking questions about the service that we had just

attended. I also made the decision to immerse myself within the culture of the church body and

make friends.

How will reflecting about this experience cause you to be a better teacher?

When reflecting back on this experience I feel like I have a greater understanding of how

a person would feel when entering a new culture. Having to become acclimated to a new

language, overcoming discrimination and prejudice can be overwhelming. Some would give up

and go back to what they know but those who choose to learn and overcome the obstacles will

grow and learn within the culture they are assimilating themselves into.

As a teacher my goal is to make students from different cultures feel welcomed and

appreciated in the classroom. According to Linda Santora of the Anti-Defamation League

(2004),

Creating a learning environment that respects diversity sets the scene for fostering

childrens positive self-concept and attitudes. Such an environment assists children in

developing positive ideas about themselves and others, creates the conditions under
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which children initiate conversations about differences, and provides the setting for

introducing activities about differences and creating fair and inclusive communities.

One experience that has broadened my view of a culturally diverse classroom was when I

was the lead teacher in the afternoon at Head Start. We were provided with multi-cultural books,

dolls, paints and crayons. We also had posters and pictures depicting different cultures and

societies. The sooner you introduce children to different cultures they will assimilate easier and

be more accepting of different cultures. I felt like the materials that we were given in Head Start

was important to teach diversity. I plan to use culturally diverse materials in my classroom.

As I think back to the experience I had in the Hispanic Church and how I felt in that

situation it made me decide that I want to be a teacher that is approachable. I also want to have a

beginning session with the parents before their child starts in the classroom, this in turn will help

the parents and the child adapt to the culture they are now living in. It will also assist me in

knowing what is expected out of me as a teacher and how I can help their child learn. I want to

understand how their culture affects their learning along with modifying and differentiating

lessons with building upon the childs background knowledge.

I never want a child to feel isolated or alone in a new environment and I want a

classroom of students who are open and welcoming to those from different cultures. It is my

desire to instill an understanding and acceptance of diversity in the classroom. When I do this I

will be able to gain my students confidence and trust along with their parents, and I will be able

to help all my students learn and succeed.


Reflection 6

References

Santora, L. (Winter 2004). How can you create a learning environment that respects diversity?

Retrieved from http://www.adl.org/assets/pdf/education-outreach/How-Can-You-Create-

a-Learning-Environment-That-Respects-Diversity.pdf