Teaching for diversity; what does this mean?
We read a case study from the book that allowed us to "eavesdrop" on a job interview for a high school science position. The teacher wanted to change schools and spoke quite passionately about his commitment to learning. He also elaborated on his teaching practice: "I'm not afraid to give Fs. Students have to be prepared to work hard. If they are lazy and fail, then that's their problem." The principal challenged the teacher to think about how he would reach out to the wide diversity of learners in his class.
We talked about how our teaching practice. How do we treat kids in so called core courses like Math, Socials, Science? Are there "smart" kids vs "lazy" or stupid kids? How is this handled in other subject areas? In a PE class, there are the athletically gifted on the one hand, and those who need instruction, training and practice: everyone can be successful. In Art, there are the artistically gifted, and those who have not yet mastered the techniques and media. Is there hope, and a place, for those who are not mathematically, scientifically or linguistically gifted in our core classes?
Here are a series of questions that were posed by the book's authors in an article that Fred H and Dave G read this summer. (The topic is evident from the title – diversity.) These are meant to stir our thinking around how we can work better for all students. [Key questions adapted from “Teaching and Academic Diversity” (Lenz and Deshler)]
- How does teacher knowledge of diversity affect student learning?
- How have teachers traditionally responded to diversity and the challenge of individualization?
- What are the “big ideas” that lead to more inclusive teaching?
- What motivates you to learn? How do you learn best?
- Describe an experience of being different in some way that made you feel alone or not fully accepted by others. Did you experience accepting as well as non-accepting behaviors from others?
- Consider how your personal identity might affect how you teach?
- What are the barriers to building an inclusive pedagogy? What are the solutions? Given the current structure of schools, what can be done?
- What changes need to be made in schools to promote more inclusive planning?
- How does teaching more content in less time affect our ability to respond to diversity?
- Which of the complicating factors are most daunting to you in terms of accommodating learning differences in a classroom?
- How can understanding the big ideas of a course help students learn content?
- What does the following statement mean to you? “Curriculum frameworks and textbooks are only resources; the true curriculum is actually constructed by the teacher and students each day in class.”