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Children Bring Their Own Cultural Selves Into The Classroom

Children Bring Their Own Cultural Selves Into The Classroom

Some children are very comfortable waiting to speak until they are called  upon, whereas other children are accustomed to yelling out questions.  Some children enjoy reading while an adult (or peer) reads out loud,  while other children engage in some type of physical movement when  reading, such as pacing throughout the room. What is critically  important to recognize is that no matter how different (or possibly  upsetting) a communication style or mode of learning may be for you –  all children should be made to feel that their authentic cultural selves  belong. Their future success in school and life profoundly relies on if  and how their cultural selves, their very identities, are honored, or  disrespected, in the classroom and society.

Review the following scenario about Toni and respond to the following prompts:

Toni is a four-year-old girl attending an  all-day preschool. All of her preschool teachers and the Site Supervisor  refer to Toni as a “force of nature” while simultaneously smiling  nervously and shaking their head in dismay. Toni has been sent home more  than any other child in the center for not following instructions and  not listening to her teachers.

When Toni enters the preschool, whether others  are engaged in an activity or talking with the teacher, Toni greets each  and every person in a similar way. She begins her greeting by saying  “Good morning” followed by the person’s first name and a novel rhyme or  rap that incorporates their name, the day, and an article of clothing  they are currently wearing. This often interrupts the flow of the  morning routine, especially when she arrives late. She greets everyone  in the preschool before starting her first activity. During circle time,  Toni is continually in motion, and walks around the community circle,  and at times throughout the center while humming the entire time. Since  her humming seems to distract some children, the teachers have allowed  her to walk, but they have all mentioned they find it distracting. When  asked questions about the circle time story that has been read by her  teachers, Toni always replies with the correct answers. When asked about  Toni’s progress in the classroom, one of the teachers, who work with  her the most, mentioned Toni is a “very bright girl, but needs to learn  how to control her outbursts and sit quietly.” She added, “I am fairly  certain she has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

At lunch time, Toni regularly counts how many  of her peers are present for lunch, and similar to her morning greets  creates rhymes and raps that incorporate her peers’ names, what they are  eating, and something they did prior to lunch. After lunch she is  regularly singing songs in a language she refers to as “Toni-Italiano,”  which is in fact a mixture of German, Spanish, and Italian words. Her  peers who giggle and bang on the tables as she is singing seem to enjoy  the lunchtime rap and post-lunch song. The teachers, however, have  continually asked her to sit quietly and wait for her meal or to stop  bothering her peers. She rarely complies to their requests.

Post in response to the following prompts, using a strengths-based approach:

  • An analysis of Toni’s communication styles, i.e., consider how she  seems to communicate and how these styles might serve as a strength.
  • An analysis of Toni’s modes of learning. Consider how she seems to  learn best and how these ways of learning might serve as a strength.
  • How Toni might be viewed in a classroom where she is expected to sit in a chair, raise her hand, and remain quiet.
  • How an educator might reconfigure her or his classroom/interactions/attitudes to honor and build on Toni’s strengths.

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