In entirety of this semester, I have gained an abundance of information, touching on a variety of topics. A topic that I found to be especially intriguing to myself is the topic of Learner Diversity. When faced with the idea of ‘learner diversity’ there are a number of different directions it can be taken. Many, along with myself, might initially jump to the idea of diversity among different cultures and ethnicities in the classroom. The other direction the topic takes is the diversity among children of the many different ways a student learns. Regardless of how one thinks of learner diversity, as a teacher, all aspects are crucial to have a level of understanding for.
Looking first into the branch of differences surrounded in the classroom in regards to cultures and ethnicity. This is something that I was not faced with attending school as a child. It wasn’t like I was completely oblivious of it, I was aware of the many different cultures and ethnicities…however, the only thing my brain really connected these things to was skin color. I had not a single classmate that wasn’t ‘white’ until I was in high school. And even then, I only had one oriental classmate, one Black-American, less than five Mexicans and 2 Indians in my graduating class. Did I mention I graduated in a class of over 600? When I came to college, I was placed face to face with many different cultures and ethnicities surrounding me. Although, at first, this was a bit of a culture shock for myself, I am very grateful because of this. Research has shown that having a more diverse classroom actually fortifies the classroom environment. As stated in the article, Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Classroom: Does It Promote Student Learning, “A classroom that does not have a significant representation from members of different races produces an impoverished discussion”. This is very similar to what Woolfolk talks about in the course textbook, Educational Psychology, where it is mentioned that “Culture embraces the whole way of life of a group of people”. Both readings suggesting that diversity is crucial for a successful classroom in today’s society.
Moving on to the diversity among students in the classroom in regards to the way they learn. Although it may not be entirely obvious, but there are many, many, different learners present in the classroom. Some more clear than others. The spectrum of learning diversity is very wide. From a communication disorder or emotional and behavioral disorder, to ADHD, to the many forms of autism. Most schools today have a special education division, where students who are unable to appropriately participate in a general classroom attend. Recent research has suggested that including these students in the general classroom is beneficial, and with the rates of learning disabilities rising, this is becoming more and more the reality of todays classrooms. According to ClinicalKey, about 11% of children alone have been diagnosed with ADHD. Although there is frequent controversy on the subject, it is evident that there is a rise in the disorder. Along with this, autism is also on the rise. With autism being the fastest-growing developmental disability (prevalence among children in the US having risen 119.4% between 2000-2010), it is of extreme significance that as a teacher to have awareness and understanding of this disease. This goes further than ADHD and autism, it is important for a teacher to be aware of the many different learning disabilities that one will come across in their classroom.
I’d like to bring the attention now to the video we watched in Module 6: Unequal Childhoods-Annette Lareau. (I am unable to attach the video directly to this blog, too big maybe?). This video shows an interview with Annette Lareau and Dalton Conley. Annete Lareau speaks about the research she conducted about the lives of children in different child rearing regimes, for the poor/working class households in the US as well as middle class households in the US. The differences she found were astonishing. This, I relate back to diversity in the classroom when considering the different socioeconomic levels. Lareau found that in a middle class family, parents “view their children as a project, as seeking and developing their talents and skills”, they took part in talking with their teachers, and scheduling doctors appointments, they intervened. Where as poor/working class parents “provided their children with scarce resources, providing food and shelter to keep their children healthy and safe, and then by doing so they presumed that their children would then spontaneously grow and thrive”. The differences among the different socioeconomic classes are evident. This is something, that as a teacher you need to be aware of, and understand the best ways to deal with the situation.
There are limitations, however, when it comes to a teacher understanding the differences present in his/her classroom. As a teacher, you need to be careful not to assume these things. If as the teacher, you feel like you need to intervene with a student in regards to any one of these differences, you need to do so very ‘gently’, if I may say. As the teacher, you cannot make the student feel like you are attacking them by any means, or like your making assumptions on their lives. As the teacher you need to also never discriminate or be prejudice against any of these differences. In Woolfolk’s text, she speaks about 3 general teaching principles to guide a teacher; these principles being:
1. Know your students.
2. Respect your students.
3. Teach your students.
I think that, if anything, walking away from this course having gained the knowledge of these 3 principles is noteworthy.
Posner, J. (2014). A Different Approach to Rising Rates of ADHD Diagnosis. American Academy of Child Psychiatry ,53(6), 697. Retrieved , from https://libproxy.uww.edu:3437/#!/content/playContent/1-s2.0-S0890856714001567?returnurl=null&referrer=null
Ruble, L., & McGrew, J. H. (2013). Teacher and Child Predictors of Achieving IEP Goals of Children with Autism. Journal Of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 43(12), 2748-2763. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-1884-x
Terenzini, P., Cabrera, A., Colbeck, C., Bjorklund, S., & Parente, J. (2001). Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Classroom: Does It Promote Student Learning? The Journal of Higher Education,72(5), 509-531. doi:10.2307/2672879