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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Connecting with students: key to success in the classroom

By Marie SthriverSpecial to CSMS MagazineA teacher needs to be able to connect with students in order to find the channel the students learn on. It is critical that teachers understand and have an awareness of the role that students’ culture have in their life and how it can affect the learning process. A common theme that is worth noted is that by ignoring cultural differences and failing to embrace the similarities, we permit barriers to communication and learning.            Young Yun Kim’s “intercultural identity” illustrates that when you are not living in the culture you were born into, you will never fully belong to your new culture. At the same time, you are not completely excluded from your new culture. The intercultural identity also creates distance from the individual’s original culture. This situation can leave an intercultural person without a sense of belonging. It is important, as teachers, to attempt to remove the isolation that students may experience when dealing with a new culture. It is also important to have an understanding so that you are able to address these issues with students of the dominant culture and how they interact with students who are not.            As Kim indicates the understanding of cultural identity in the past has been that it is immutable. It defines who we are. We now see that culture can change and people are able to adapt to their new culture. We also see that this adaptation creates a new culture that can sometimes be completely different from the original two cultures being combined. As teachers we need to be prepared to adapt with our students and their orientation toward culture.            From schools that I have visited in the Orlando area, I have seen a growing trend toward the school’s culture. This had previously been a theme in high schools, but now I see it even in elementary schools. While rallying around a school mascot or a vision statement, administration creates a culture of learning. Regardless of where a student is from, their race, or ethnicity, they become a member of the school’s culture. In that environment, students are able to look beyond their differences and focus on school culture (such as “we are the panthers”). At the heart of the school’s culture is an emphasis on education and unity. That might be the solution for the future.Note: Marie Sthriver is an educational consultant in suburban Jacksonville. She wrote this piece exclusively for CSMS Magazine.See also Understanding gestures in the classroom: http://www.csmsmagazine.org/news.php?pg=20060927I281

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