By Tawn Altunova
Student, College of Education
When I think about culturally inclusive teaching, I am reminded about my experiences in elementary school. My teachers really made an effort to know the students, the faculty and staff as well as the community members. They also seemed to be very proficient in what they taught. I remember that I was very engaged and involved in what I was learning because the teachers made the lessons applicable to the ideas and cultural values of the community. The population at my elementary school was quite diverse, and many of my friends spoke a language other than English at home. This did not deter my teachers from establishing authentic relationships with all of the students and their families.
I am so pleased to know that in my teacher preparation program in the College of Education at Grand Canyon University I am learning how to check my bias at the door and appreciate the diversity of the student population that I will be teaching in the future. I’m also learning how to be mindful and respectful of my students’ cultural values and perspectives. Wherever possible, I need to incorporate and align them to my teaching practice.
As I go through my program and I learn more about culturally inclusive practices, I keep remembering the experiences that I had as a child at Irving Elementary School. Specifically, I recall that the teachers invited the family members to be guest speakers. During those sessions, they provided specifics about their country and culture. The other very memorable event was the Irving International Day Celebration. At the end of the year Irving holds an international celebration, showcasing the students’ learned skills, including reading, writing, social studies and art. Each classroom was decorated by the teachers and students to depict a different country in the world. Then students travelled to each classroom with the intent of learning about different cultures. This greatly influenced my cultural awareness development and respect. After learning more about best practices in education in my program at GCU, I believe that with some planning and collaboration, this type of learning experience could be implemented in all schools.
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More about the author:
Hello, my name is Tawn Altunova. I have learned I love kids how they can teach me more than I will ever know. I’ve worked in China on a cultural exchange doing English tutoring with Chinese college students at an English training center. That’s what one might call an epic two-week working vacation! Some of my hobbies include dog therapy work and blogging my poetry. I tend to surprise people all the time with how I’m always able to hope for the better.
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