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Being A Culturally And Linguistically Responsive Educator

1572 words - 6 pages

Being a Culturally and Linguistically Responsive EducatorIn their publication, The Culturally Responsive Teacher, authors Villegas & Lucas (2007) advise that "to engage students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, we must see them as capable learners" (p. 28). I believe it is important for educators to understand the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of their students and use that knowledge to better facilitate instruction. To aid in this task, Villegas & Lucas (2007) suggest that educators develop six qualities as a framework for culturally responsive teaching. I will highlight those six qualities and discuss how I utilize them in my own professional development and teaching practices.The first quality, understanding how learners construct knowledge, focuses on our constructivist views of learning. When encountering new ideas and experiences in school, learners utilize prior knowledge and beliefs to interpret these new experiences. Our role as educators is to help students correlate what they already know with what we want them to learn (Villegas & Lucas, 2007). One way I do this in the classroom is by having children discuss their experiences and build on them. For instance, when introducing the concept of making bread, the class discusses different types of bread and shares their experiences with making bread. During the discussion, we chart the information gathered and compare the similarities and differences. To further the experience, I invite family members to come to class and share their method of bread-making. We might also visit a bakery or tortilla factory and research recipes at the library or online. We take the information gathered to make vocabulary lists, write stories and draw pictures which are later incorporated into a book about bread from around the world. Lucas & Villegas (2011) argue that providing children with experiences is also linguistically responsive instruction. It also helps bridge the gap between school and home life.The second quality Villegas & Lucas (2007) discuss is learning about student's lives outside the classroom. In our evolving society it is of utmost importance to learn as much as possible about each student and their family. There are many factors that influence a student's ability to learn, including family structure, medical history, history of immigration or frequent relocation, and the family's perception of the value of education. One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with each child's life outside school is by conducting home visits and involving the family in classroom activities (Villegas & Lucas, 2007). As an educator, I feel knowing my students well and encouraging family involvement is essential to each child's success. In my preschool classroom, we start each school year with a home visit and classroom tour. This allows the teacher to meet the child in a neutral...

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