Sunday, April 13

What Have I Learned: Becoming a Multicultural Teacher

So if you have been following my blog, this semester I have been blogging class assignments from Multicultural Education.  This is my final post specifically for that class, and for it I need to answer the question:

What have I learned from Multicultural Education?

I have learned so much, and yet, I have learned that I truly know nothing about teaching.  I learned what some of my most important teaching values are, but I don't know how they will be played out in my classroom yet. I don't know which values will bias my teaching and disrupt my ability to relate to my students.  I learned that it is important to find out what my pedagogical philosophy is, but I am still studying it out.  I have learned that it is important for me to continue to self-reflect on my biases, values, teaching philosophies and approaches to my classroom. Throughout the class, as my portfolio and this post will attest, I have had new experiences and thought about interactions in new ways.  I have met new people and learned about their culture and my own.  Throughout it all, I have come face to face with some important philosophical questions that have essential real-world applications.

And I have learned that I love thinking about these questions and problems.  Which means that I really do want to teach.  If it ws ever in question before, I am confident now. I have thrived in this class, and all of my other pedagogy classes.  I have a passion for learning how to be a great teacher.  I have been a student for so much of my life, and have loved so many of my great teachers, but I have never analyzed and studied why they were great.  I have learned that I am passionate about learning what makes good pedagogy, since I have been a student for so long, but a teacher for only a few short months.

Like almost all student teachers, I decided to be a teacher before I could know all that it really entails. Before I took any Secondary Education classes, before I read any education literature, before I observed high school classes with teacher glasses.  This class helped teach me my obligations to my students and all the work and emotional devotion I have to give to them.  I have learned about my additional responsibilities in the classroom, besides teaching biology, including making it a safe environment for all students and helping all of them reach their high academic potential through culturally aware practices.  I have also learned that the way I treat my students, and the way I think about them, can severely impact my teaching and their success.

I have learned many things that I need to believe and know, and things that my students need to know I believe in.  They need to know that I love all people and all students, despite their imperfections.  That I will dedicate myself to teaching, and I have high expectations for them, morally and academically in my classroom and in the school. They need to know that I believe they have great potential to succeed academically and in all other areas of life.

Even though I am asked not to discuss religion, to create an uplifting classroom I must teach my students some morals and values, and live by them myself. Together, we need to value knowledge and its many sources, equity and the task of balancing the unbalanced society, and the wide range of cultures and opinions in our classroom.  My students must know that I will not stand for teasing or bullying of any kind in my class.  Instead, we will work to create a community where all students can work and teach each other, and have mutual respect for each other.

One of the most important things I have learned through this class is that I need to love all of my students. If you base everything on love, you are off on the right foot. They don't need pity, because pity is a person that looks at them and sees what they endure, and then turns their back on them, going back to their own life.  They need love, and someone dedicated to teaching them science, but also to making her classroom a place that they can learn, express ideas and feel safe. I want to have a room like that, and be a teacher that creates those things.

Through our class discussions and my study of the recommended materials, I have had revelations and epiphanies, slow realizations, and questions that I am still searching for the answers. I have learned about myself and my teaching philosophies and how I want to think about and approach the students in my classroom.  But mostly I have learned that I still have a long way to go.  I have learned so much more about the problems faced by the diversity of my students, but am still struggling with how to practically teach them in a way that overcomes those difficulties. I have learned from this class that I am passionate about becoming a great teacher, and to do so, I have a lot more work to do. I am excited to continue the personal studies that I started in this class for the rest of this year and throughout the rest of my career, as I continue the journey of becoming a multicultural educator.