Sunday, July 24, 2011

Diversity in the K-5 Classroom

As public education teachers, we have a responsibility to not only take note of the student differences in our classroom, but embrace and celebrate those differences.  Now, more than ever, students in American classrooms come in all shapes, sizes and colors of different races, cultures, genders, and abilities with different family structures, personal beliefs and academic abilities. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

NC Teaching Standard 2

Last year, teachers in North Carolina were evaluated on teacher performance based on the (newly implemented) North Carolina Teacher Evaluation Instrument consisting of five performance areas.  This blog was, in part, created to help teachers, specifically, with Standard II: Teachers Establish a Respectful Environment for a Diverse Population of Students.  The wording of Standard II is as follows:

A: Teachers provide an environment in which each child has a positive,
nurturing relationship with caring adults.
Teachers encourage an environment that is inviting, respectful,
supportive, inclusive, and flexible.
• Encourage an environment that is inviting, respectful, supportive,
inclusive, and flexible.

B: Teachers embrace diversity in the school community and in the world.
Teachers demonstrate their knowledge of the history of diverse cultures
and their role in shaping global issues. They actively select materials and
develop lessons that counteract stereotypes and incorporate histories and
contributions of all cultures.
Teachers recognize the influence of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and
other aspects of culture on a student’s development and personality.
Teachers strive to understand how a student’s culture and background
may influence his or her school performance. Teachers consider and
incorporate different points of view in their instruction.
• Demonstrate knowledge of diverse cultures
• Select materials and develop lessons that counteract stereotypes
and incorporate contributions.
• Recognize the influences on a child’s development, personality, and performance
• Consider and incorporate different points of view.

C: Teachers treat students as individuals.
Teachers maintain high expectations, including graduation from high
school, for students of all backgrounds. Teachers appreciate the differences
and value the contributions of each student in the learning environment
by building positive, appropriate relationships.
• Maintain high expectations for all students
• Appreciate differences and value contributions by building positive,
appropriate relationships.

D: Teachers adapt their teaching for the benefit of students with special needs.
Teachers collaborate with the range of support specialists to help meet
the special needs of all students. Through inclusion and other models
of effective practice, teachers engage students to ensure that their needs are met.
• Collaborate with specialists
• Engage students and ensure they meet the needs of their students
through inclusion and other models of effective practice

E: Teachers work collaboratively with the families and significant adults
in the lives of their students.
Teachers recognize that educating children is a shared responsibility
involving the school, parents or guardians, and the community. Teachers
improve communication and collaboration between the school and the
home and community in order to promote trust and understanding and
build partnerships with all segments of the school community. Teachers
seek solutions to overcome cultural and economic obstacles that may
stand in the way of effective family and community involvement in the
education of their students.
• Improve communication and collaboration between the school
and the home and community
• Promote trust and understanding and build partnerships with
school community
• Seek solutions to overcome obstacles that prevent family and
community involvement

View complete Teacher Evaluation document here.

Collecting Artifacts for Standard 2

When I think of artifacts I think of arrowheads and fossils, however, the analogy is the same for teaching artifacts, physical evidence of the standard, that can be preserved through the years.  According to the commission on teacher evaluation standards, a artifact is defined as follows:

Artifact: A product resulting from a teacher's work (a natural by-product, not a newly created document).

Examples of artifacts could be: 
School Improvement Plan
School Improvement Team
NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey
Student Achievement Data
Professional Development 
Student Work
National Board Certification
Parent Teacher Organization
Professional Learning Communities
Lesson Plans
Data Notebooks
Family Nights
Parent Involvement/Volunteers
Parent Communication
Morning Meetings
Classroom Websites & Blogs
Student Dropout Data
School Mission, Vision & Values

Artifacts are highly suggested because they help an administrator see your level of performance in a particular area that they may not otherwise see in a classroom observation.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Create A Classroom of Bucket Fillers

Bucket filling is a social skill by which when we do and say nice things to others, not only do we fill up their "love" bucket, but we fill up our own.  When we show traits like empathy, kindness and respect towards with our words and actions, research shows that it leads to a happier life.  These books help students to be daily bucket fillers.  Below are some classroom posters I created to remind everyone to be bucket fillers.

Download it here

Using Children's Book to Teach Diversity

These books about bullying, and others like it, are great for discussing student issues.  I have featured many children's literature titles specific to many issues of diversity.  Using children's books is a way for students to talk about the issue in the context of the book without personalizing it and making anyone feel "on the spot."
Below are several websites that allow one to search for specifice titles by theme and issue:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Morning Meeting to Build Classroom Community

Morning Meeting, originally from The Responsive Classroom, is a positive way to start the day.  At the very beginning of the day, students and teachers come together in a meeting area, sitting in a circle, all on the same level to share and begin their day on a positive note.  There are four essential components to a Morning Meeting: Greeting, Sharing, Group Activity and News and Announcements.  Below is a poster I created to help students and teachers remember to include all four essential components. 

Morning Meeting is a very popular practice right now because, not only do student learn and practice literacy and language skills, but students learn and practice important social skills.  Some students report that it is the best part of the day because everyone greets each other in a friendly way and everyone is positive and kind. 
In addition to the Morning Meeting book listed above, many teachers have created additional games, activities and greetings to use during Morning Meeting.  There are several Morning Meeting resources listed to in the Lessons and Activities section to the right of this blog.   Another great book with lots of social interactive, cooperative and fun activities for Morning Meeting are included in the book called Silly Sports and Goofy Games. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Are You Culturally Proficient?

Cultural proficiency is an inside-out approach on change in which teacher leaders transform approaches to their personal leadership behaviors and to their school practices. Leaders who manifest cultural proficiency guide their colleagues to examine personal values and behaviors in such a way that the members of the school realize that is is they who must adapt their practices to meet the needs of the students and the community they serve.  Likewise, these leaders support their colleagues and members of the community in aligning the school's policies, practices, and procedures to achieve cultural proficiency (Lindsey, Nuri Robins, & Terrell, 2003; Nuri Roberts, Lindsey & Terrell, 2002).

Becoming culturally proficient does not happen's a transformation that occurs over time, like the budding of a rose.  To examine your current level of cultural proficiency, let me introduce the cultural profiency continuum.  It is a tool that offers you a contextual frame of reference that is useful in examining and analyzing your responses to issues of diversity.  From an organizational perspective, the continuum provides a means of assessing how your school or district deals with cultural differences.  It also can assist you and others to examine and evaluate how your organization initiates, implements, and enforces policies and practices that represent its position on issues of diversity.

Cultural Profiency Continuum:

The continuum describes a range of behaviors from Destructiveness, which is the denial and suppression of a people's culture, to proficiency, which is the acknowledgement, celebration and elevation of all cultures. The behaviors identified on the continuum are not fixed points; but rather, each descriptive point represents an array of practices and policies that characterize a developmental stage or phase of social competence.

Continuum Descriptors:

Below is a link to a self-assessment survey that you and your colleagues may take to find out the areas in your classroom and in your building that are strengths and weaknesses for your levels of cultural proficiency.

This Classroom & School Diversity Survey was created in Google Docs.  By clicking on the link below, you are my find it and use it from the Google Docs Template Gallery, so that you may use it with your staff, as this link is for anyone sending the survey to others.  If you aren't sure how to use Google Docs (Forms), there are several tutorials on You Tube.  The link below will allow you to see results of your respondents.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Myth of the Melting Pot

In my summer reading, I learned that the analogy of the United States as a melting pot is a myth, an illusion rather.  This illusion comes from a case of Cultural Blindness.  This is any policy, practice, or behavior that ignores existing cultural differences or that considers such differences inconsequential. In the book, Culturally Proficient Instruction, they write, "Often, people of goodwill speak proudly of 'not seeing color, just seeing human being." The illusion of the melting pot contributes to cultural blindness.  Instead, think of the United States as a mixed green salad, joined together for a great combination but retaining it's own tastes and qualities within the mix.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lesson on Skin Color

I saw this picture on a first grade blog last week for a demonstration during a lesson about Martin Luther King.  Click here to read the original post. I think is a good way for all the visual learners to understand what we mean when we teachers often say "we're all the same on the inside."  The white and brown shells represent skin color, the egg yolks are identical on the inside...heart, lungs, kidney, liver, etc.