Archived InformationTools for Schools - April 1998
|Practices such as classroom discussions, readings, demonstrations, cultural autobiographies,
simulations, role-playing, micro-teaching, reflective journal writing, lesson planning, and
visits to classrooms of schools that are acknowledged as successful in educating students
from diverse backgrounds.
|Cultural immersion strategies including presentations by guest lecturers from the local
African-American, Hispanic, and Vietnamese communities; interviews with various
residents of students' communities; research into the history of the students' communities;
and visits to students' homes, churches, neighborhoods, and cultural centers.
|Development of instructional strategies using cooperative learning, classroom action research projects, learning centers and other instructional methods found to be effective with students with a variety of learning styles and backgrounds.|
After completion of an initial 40-hour experience, teachers are encouraged to continue to meet on an on going basis with CULTURES' staff members and their 15 member cohort group. All of the teachers receive a manual to assist them in training other teachers in their school. They are also provided materials and additional assistance from CULTURES upon request.
University schools of education interested in implementing the CULTURES model must consider the need for release time for faculty to provide courses to trainees, space and instructional materials, transportation for school visits and cultural immersion trips, and honoraria for ambassadors and consultants from the various ethnic communities who are invited to make presentations and meet with trainees.
Although this is a professional development program for experienced teachers, most of the components are applicable to preservice teacher education programs.
All of the teachers indicate that they plan to use what they learned in their classrooms (greater tolerance and sensitivity toward diverse students, better understanding of diverse learning styles, and some of the instructional methods that can address effectively the different learning styles, such as cooperative learning). Most indicated that they plan to conduct workshops and in service programs for fellow teachers when they return to their schools.
The recommendations most frequently cited were to extend the course over a longer period of time and even develop a CULTURES II course that would extend the work begun in CULTURES I, and also to incorporate more cultural immersions field trips. Clearly, the teachers want to learn more about issues related to teaching diverse students.
Another related indicator of CULTURES' success is the finding that many of the CULTURES' teachers returned to their schools and began to work on school-wide reforms to make their schools more responsive to urban poor and minority students. Over half of the teachers who completed the program, have already presented staff development workshops at their schools, sharing materials and knowledge acquired in CULTURES. Other have developed multicultural resource guides to assist teachers in their schools identify curriculum materials and teaching resources, as well as resources in their local school community that can make the learning experience more relevant and appropriate for urban minority students.
CULTURES incorporates the research base on culturally responsive pedagogy and teaching effectiveness by recognizing that in order to maximize learning opportunities, teachers must gain knowledge of the cultures represented in their classrooms, and then be able to incorporate this knowledge in their instructional practices. CULTURES builds upon the research indicating that in order to develop teachers who can succeed in urban school environments, they must be provided with knowledge of the school change literature, have the opportunity to become part of a professional learning community, and be provided with supports for handling the unique stresses that accompany teaching in urban schools. The critical role teachers play in being able to create caring communities in which all students are valued and believe they can learn, has been demonstrated through research. CULTURES assists teachers change their classrooms into more personalized and caring learning environments.
The research base indicates that teachers must be reflective practitioners with attitudes of open- mindedness and the observational, communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills necessary to continually monitor, evaluate, and revisit their own teaching practices. CULTURES assists teachers examine their actions, instructional practices, and materials against the background of their students' cultural roots and experiences and preferred learning styles.
The curriculum focus of CULTURES attends to the presentation of content in culturally responsive
ways, and also emphasizes discipline-specific standards such as the standards outlined by National
Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Standards Project for English Language Arts, Geography
Standards Project, and the content-specific standards developed by The National Board for
Professional Teaching Standards.