A Classroom Climate of Caring and Concern

How does a teacher create a climate of caring and concern for students from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural groups in a classroom?

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Unfortunately, a caring, encouraging, and inclusive classroom does not simply occur by coincidence or establish itself without consideration and planning.

One of the most important roles of a teacher is to set the students up for success even before they set foot in the classroom. This can be achieved through various strategies and activities that the teacher is responsible for implementing.

And perhaps the most important aspect of creating a classroom of caring is to always, as the teacher, model appropriate behavior and language to the students.

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”  –  W.E.B. Du Bois

Classroom Rules

While not as fun and interesting as other activities, classroom rules are still an important part of creating a safe  and caring classroom. Students need to know that there are boundaries and that there are basic behavioral expectations that they must adhere to.

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“When asking students to explore issues of personal and social identity, teachers must provide safe spaces where students are seen, valued, cared for and respected” (Classroom Culture).

Caring and Concern: I wish my teacher knew……..

It is extremely important to know where your students are coming from. This teacher started a simple activity that has blossomed into an educational phenomena. Showing students you care, being a safe person to share something with, and helping students to self advocate greatly benefits the classroom atmosphere. I would love to incorporate this into my classroom.

 

My Plan For Creating A Classroom That Embraces Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

Step One – Learn everyones names

As the teacher, I must set an example for the entire class by making an effort to insure that each students heritage and identity are respected through the correct pronunciation of their name.

“Name mispronunciation actually falls into a larger category of behaviors called micro-aggressions, defined by researchers at Columbia University’s Teachers College as “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color” (Sue et al., 2007).”

Step Two – Invite their cultures into the classroom

Bringing other cultures in the classroom decreases ignorance and increases mutual respect of the differences of others.

This can take place in the classroom within a sharing circle, after the teacher explains and  establishes the sharing circle as a safe-space for everyone. Students could also sign up to teach their classmates a favorite word or sentence in their native language. This could be a part of show-and-tell, or a completely difference activity altogether.

Step Three – Literacy Calendar

The inclusion of multicultural literature in class materials will promote understanding and respect among students. It also provides students to learn about other cultures as well as the cultures of their classmates.

Throughout the year, there are lots of opportunities to celebrate different cultures, events, and holidays with literature. As the teacher, I would follow a set calendar, or create a calendar for  including students’ cultures through multicultural literacy.

Step Four – Class structure and set-up

Thoughtful classroom setup and structure supports both Diversity and Justice, and a welcoming class space sets the tone for participatory engagement. I will begin this by creating a safe and equitable classroom environment and structure. 

  • Diverse images affect students’ conscious and subconscious understanding of classroom values.
  • Teacher and students can collaborate to create  classroom rules/bylaws, and acceptable behavior expectations.
  • Perhaps a periodic check-up is in order, where students and teacher can discuss how the class is doing with the rules and behavior expectations.
  • Visuals like pictures, symbols, and reward systems will be used to communicate expectations in a positive and direct manner.
  • Materials related to your students cultures will be used – books, topics, characters, images can all be multicultural.
  • If there are ELL students present then it might be helpful for the teacher to learn some basic instructions in the student’s language.
  • Establishing classroom management rules as soon as possible helps avoid misunderstandings, discipline problems, and feelings of low self-esteem.

Step Five – Language and Vocabulary Instruction

Taking the extra step to learn about a student’s language shows them you care. This also fosters inclusion by honoring home languages. Understanding where a student is coming from linguistically can help me, as the teacher, develop strategies for quicker language absorption.

I will take knowledge about the various language groups in the classroom and create materials and instruction that encourage learning.

For example, when teaching phonics to Korean speakers, when learning “ai” “ay” spellings it is helpful to insert the Korean equivalent “ㅐ” for better phonetic understanding.

How to Address Bullying in the Classroom

Cyberbullying

Additional Resources

 

Resources

  • Scharf, A. (n.d.). Critical Practices for Anti-bias Education [PDF]. Teaching Tolerance.
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