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Archive for September, 2017

My views on diversity in the classroom.

I tend to share the same views expressed here: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/social-justice-resources/

Diversity in an English classroom is vital for both student comprehension, acceptance, and just for keeping their attention. I know it is a sensitive issue, but since when has English avoided sensitive topics anyway?

First, learn what your students already know about this issue and what they have already been taught. Besides the points expressed in the link you need to know what ground has already been covered so you can teach them new things. Martin Luther King Jr. probably has already been taught before, so why not talk about mental disabilities or something else to give them a wider range? Covering the same topics over and over again can reduce interest in the topic, seem preachy, and even become condescending!

Not only is this useful for teaching kids new things, but just reading something that is not either written by or starring a standard white character can do wonders! Why not read a piece from India or Mexico? Have a story featuring a person of color or even somebody in a wheelchair? Just reading a story featuring somebody like them can do wonders for someone of these minorities as well as gives those outside of these social groups a view into their lives! I am not talking about making them read The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao or Precious, but maybe just some short stories or even some comics could help broaden your students’ horizons far more than a generic fantasy story could.

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An example of classroom rules and what I would send home to parents.

For students:

1: Do not be a jerk. (A classic catch-all rule. Pretty much anything a student can do that would be considered disruptive would be covered by this rule.)
2: If you have a question about what you are doing ask that question. (This encourages students to ask questions about what they are doing to help comprehension.)

For me:

1: Do not assign unnecessary work. (This helps assure students that all work given is meaningful.)
2: Punishments will not be given to the whole class unless the whole class participated. (This prevents situations where a teacher would do things like give extra homework for one student misbehaving.)

And the Email:

Dear parent or guardian:

I am excited to be teaching your young adult in my class this coming school year. While I do not yet know them personally I can only be excited when looking forward to the coming classes. It is my belief that every student has the opportunity to gain something out of an English class regardless of their future path.

Now, on the matter of you and me. I will respond far faster to Email than texts or calls, and will often check it during the day between classes. Every day after school and again before I go to bed I will make a point to sit down and respond to every Email I receive in the order I get them. While it may take a bit to reply I will respond as soon as I can. If you wish to call me do so after school hours until 7 P.M, but a prompt reply is not guaranteed.

Together we can make sure that your young adult gets the most out of my class, wherever they may be going in life.

Daniel Beecher

Cell: 703-943-9121

Email: Daniel.Beecher@live.longwood.edu

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