Personal Philosophy of Multicultural Education
I believe multicultural education is teaching children about all diversity in the community and in the world through respect, love, and kindness. The goal of multicultural education is to bring all the diversity together and embrace and love all the differences we have. Teaching young children about differences in the community and world is done through teaching acceptance of all. Children who are taught in a classroom with love and respect of all diversity make that acceptance apart of who there are as they grow and mature.
In my current classroom children experience diversity through children with varying special needs, religions, home languages, cultures, skin colors, socioeconomic statuses, and educational experiences, Acceptance and appreciation for all children is taught from day one through teacher modeling and interactions. Soon young 3,4 and 5 year old children are using similar phrases, expressions, and words while interacting with all children in the classroom. Our classroom is an integrated program so children with varying special needs is a huge part of our diversity. Children in our program learn that everyone is learning in a different way and that is a good thing! This past year I had a 4 year old tell his Mom, " Mom, _______, can't talk with her words. But that's ok because she talks by grabbing my hand or giving me a toy; she really loves loud noises! Then there's ______, he is so smart he can read! He looks at the words so fast and he knows them! I can't read but I'm still learning too!" This is just one way that I can see acceptance, love, and respect for multicultural and diverse needs in our classroom on a daily bases!
Poem on May 23
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord, my soul to keep;
Guide me safely through the night
And wake me with the mornings light
This is a poem that has significant meaning to my husband and mother-in-law. Growing up they both said this poem/prayer every night before bed. When I was growing up we did a little bit more of a traditional prayer so this was new for me. I choose this poem because when we found out we were expecting our first child we received a small bear that sang this same poem/prayer. It really touched my heart and I felt very excited to be able to say the poem/prayer with our child.
School is out it’s time for the pool,
Staying up late and sleeping in;
Should I get dressed or stay in my PJ’s?
The biggest decision I make all day.
Summer time will soon be changing,
Once we have this little baby.
Staying up late and waking up early,
Still trying to decide to get dressed or wear PJ’s.
This summer will be a brand new adventure
But one I can’t wait for...
Thank goodness, summer is beginning!
I wrote this poem as I was thinking about how summer is quickly approaching and how typically my summer has gone since I was a young child. Now in my life I have a very big change coming, motherhood. My summer months will look quite different. I’m not sure how being a mother will be but I know I am very excited, nervous, and eager for the change!
137th Psalm Assignment
My father’s, father’s side of the family came from Baden, Germany, in southwest Germany near the Black Forest. When my Great Grandpa was in World War 1 in 1917 he always told the story that he was 20 miles from his grandma’s house, whom he had never met. My Great Great Grandpa, Protas Ohnemus was sent back to Germany for 1 year or face jail time because he was making moonshine during the prohibition times. On my father’s, mother’s side of the family they came from Ireland. They came over to America during the potato famine. Story has it that they (the Leake family) were direct decedents of King George II of England. My Great, Great, Great Grandpa was 2nd son of King George 2nd and was not in line to the anarchy. He got into a dispute with the King and was then exiled to Scotland. His decedents came to America and eventually settled in Northeast Missouri (Perry, MO.). My grandma’s sister lived there until the day she died a few years ago. My mother’s family, both her father’s side and mother’s side, came from Germany. The information on all three families the Peters, Schreackes and Berndanners is very limited. I grew up hearing the stories of my father’s family but am not aware of anything about my mother’s side of the family. While growing up I loved telling people that I was related to King George II!
Cultural Field Experiences
Church service in Spanish
Originally my plan was to attend the Tri-City Jewish center in Rock Island with Michaela and Bailie on June 2nd but on June 1st my husband and I had our first baby! So instead my husband, daughter, and I attended a Catholic mass in Spanish on July 3rd at 1:30pm in Quincy, Illinois (my hometown) at St. Francis Church. I grew up attending this church but had never attended the Spanish mass. On a typical Sunday mass ever pew is full. In the Spanish mass there were no more than 20 people, people I had never seen before. The priest leading the mass typically does the Spanish mass but he did the Christmas mass last year in English. During this church service I didn’t understand any of the words, while everyone else at the service was responding in Spanish. One positive is that I am very familiar with the typical flow of a Catholic service in English but I was not able to verbally participate at all. I can only imagine how confused and uncomfortable I would feel if I didn’t know the flow of the service and I couldn’t understand the language. This feeling is something to keep in mind when families come into our preschool screenings (our first contact with families) and their first language is not English. We have several, if not all families, who are somewhat confused during the screening process and their first language is English! During the mass I thought how could this mass help me understand more? Are there Spanish books? I only saw the English books but that did not help me understand. Just like families who speak another language and are giving English forms to read and fill out, is is possible to have our preschool forms translated into other languages? There are several languages so is that even possible? Is English still the best language to keep the “neutral” common language between all families and school? As the church service continued I felt like I was participating because of my understanding of Catholic services but the priest could have been saying something totally different than what is said in English I would have had no idea and still would have been blindly “participating”. I continued to reflect on how this applies to our preschool program, how can I make sure families don’t feel like their blindly filling out forms. I think once families join the preschool program and we begin home visits we can answer a lot of questions. But I want families to feel more comfortable at our initial contact, how can we improve that? This is something my team will have to continue to reflect on and try to improve!
Observation of different culture
While I was trying to decide if I should go to a nail salon where majority of the nail technicians speak a different language or go to a store primarily where people from a different ethnicity shop, I remembered I wanted to donate clothes to the Salvation Army. I then thought back to the many times I had gone to the Salvation Army while in high school and college to get costumes or ugly Christmas sweaters. I also remembered seeing several people there actually shopping for daily clothes. I realize the Salvation Army doesn’t have one set culture that they serve but many cultures. On July 7th I went back to the Salvation Army and observed these many cultures. I saw families with children, single adults, elderly, and young teenagers. There were people of many different cultures, white, Hispanic, and African American. One thing I could easily observe was the people shopping for costumes verses people shopping for actual daily clothing items. I noticed some younger teenagers running around saying “wow, look at this shirt!” and laughing and carrying on. Then I noticed a small, Caucasian family, I’m assuming it was mom and her son and daughter both elementary age. They were not running around or smiling. The small family went from aisle to aisle looking at the price tag and the mom would hold the clothing items up to her children, I’m assuming checking to see the size. No one in the family was smiling or really even talking. I noticed the girl would look around as her mother would pull items off the rack. This family was wearing plain, simple clothing that was similar to the clothing items on the rack at the Salvation Army. Both the girl and boy had dirty shoes on and the boy had tight summer shorts on. This family didn’t seem to be from a different ethnicity or speaking a different language, however this family did seem to be from a very different socioeconomic status from me. This was not the way I shopped for clothes with my mother. I can remember going to the mall with all 6 of my siblings excited to get the newest and greatest Abercrombie jeans. My sisters and I would try clothing items on and then have a little fashion show in the dressing room. We didn’t go shopping a lot as a family but when we did it was a really fun and exciting thing. The family I saw in Salvation Army was not there having a “good” time, instead it looked as if they were sad and the little girl seemed to be watching every person in the store. Observing this family made me realize a few different things. First, back in high school/college when I was running around laughing and looking at the “ugly” clothes, I wonder if I offended anyone there who was shopping for actual clothing. Second, I know “this” family, I have had similar families if have worked with in the past. While teaching in Davenport I had several families who received free and reduced support for their child. Their children would come to school in the same clothes multiple days in a row or come to school with a very dirty diaper. It is very easy to be judgmental in today’s society but as a teacher it’s so important to model acceptance of all because even preschool age children can pick up on those judgments. I think I do a really good job of not being judgmental of any families or students based on culture, religion, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. However, reliving my experiences at Salvation Army while I was younger, and now to my observation as an adult I wasn’t always that mindful. I want to always keep this in mind for teaching my students and also my children through modeling and open conversation about families or children whom may be different from us.
It’s A Small World
While thinking about my “ideal” classroom I thought back to the 3 districts I have been a part of, my experience while working at the St. Ambrose Children’s campus while in college, and my upcoming school year which will include my co-teacher Michaela and I expanding and creating a new preschool program in our district. This past year we were able to order materials we believed important to start a new preschool program as well as sketching out ideas of how to organize and create our classroom. This assignment came at a great time because we are working on creating our ideal classroom within the boundaries of a budget and the physical setup of the room. We really wanted to be mindful while creating this new classroom in setting up an environment that can be the needs of all of our students from diverse backgrounds.
Below, Michaela and I have broken down the multiple areas of our classroom with the why and how we would setup those areas in our classroom.
Entrance Area: I structured the physical environment of the classroom, with the entrance as the first area that families and children will see when they walk into the classroom. I would love this area to invite families to have a bookshelf with parent resources, a large notebook for all general communications between teachers and families. Ideally, I would love to have an area that I could highlight project work when parents first came in the door, so they could see how students of all developmental levels can be actively engaged within the classroom. I would want this gathering space to be large enough for parents to converse comfortably and it would not get too congested. Relationships with families are so important when supporting diverse families. They need to have the opportunity to feel welcome within the classroom so that the family/teacher relationship has the time to blossom.
Dramatic Play: I would put the dramatic play center beside the block center because both centers have such vast opportunities for language development. In the dramatic play area, I would have a range of materials that children could apply to everyday life. I would display photos of men doing things that women are typically stereotyped to do, and also women doing activities men are stereotyped to do. For example, I would have a photo of a man cleaning the house, and perhaps a woman working on a car. I would do this to attempt to break gender stereotyping barriers. I would also utilize the opportunity for language development in this center. I would use a variety of organized picture displays to help any and all children participate regardless of their developmental level. I would also be sure to provide writing materials, and books to allow for children to have play opportunities that could accommodate all types of learners. In our classroom, we have children from around the world. I would be sure to include different types of food that children could ask questions about, and perhaps some of their peers could provide the answers to their questions.
Block Center: I would make sure that block center was located very near the dramatic play center so that play could happen reciprocally between the two areas. Again block center facilitates language and pretend play, so I would be sure to have plentiful visuals to support these interactions. I would post photos of various project based topics in the classroom, and rotate the materials often. Again, I would take advantage of the opportunity to break through gender stereotypes with girls having the opportunity to build and take on pretend play roles such as pilot or mechanic fixing a car. I would also have materials located near to facilitate open ended creativity such as using paper, tape, cardboard etc. during place. We know that in early childhood education it is critical to differentiate for gifted children as well as children who need significant scaffolding for their developmental level. Having open ended materials in a language rich environment would allow opportunities for reading and writing to take place to differentiate for higher achieving children.
Group Area: I would place our large group area in the central part of the classroom. Around the group area I would have shelving where I would post photos of the children from our classroom as well as their family. Having photos of each child’s family would open up conversations about how each of our families are different and despite our different structures we all can be loved and accepted. It is critical to make family an integral part the classroom to deepen the learning that students have. Often when children have the opportunity to look and different people questions about religion and practices come up. I would encourage the children in our room to highlight customs that are specific to their family.
Writing Center: I would place the writing center near our dramatic play center and block center. I would also have the library very close to the writing center. In our room, it is important to have a variety of books the highlight project topics, non-fiction books, and family books. We change out our books quite often. I would definitely want to highlight books as a cozy area for our children to learn and explore because they provide opportunities for such excellent incidental teaching, and great opportunities for extending a lesson further for children who are talented and gifted.
Who I am in this design: I am the co teacher developing this design which is set up to increase teacher and student relationships as well at teacher and family relationships. Michaela and I worked together to develop this based off our experiences and our beliefs. As one of the teachers my role is to extend and support learning opportunities that occur day to day and the physical environment is key to create those experiences. I believe in the importance of having a classroom set up to enhance social interactions, open ended learning experiences, and differentiation between all the diverse needs of all our students.
What it would take to make my perfect classroom: Like I mentioned above I am in the process of designing and setting up a classroom this summer with my co-teacher, Michaela. I am very eager to create this “perfect” classroom but I also realize there could be some challenges because it’s not just “my” classroom. As a team Michaela and I will have to be flexible and open to each other’s ideas in order to create the perfect classroom that reflects both of us and our educational philosophy. When creating our classroom I really want to focus on creating purposeful centers. In our old classroom the physical setup of windows, cabinets, bulletin boards, and our Smart Board limited our space and only allowed for 2 centers, blocks and dramatic play. We have worked as a team to sketch a plan with multiple learning centers with appropriate boundaries and defined space. Through this setup we will be able to support and accommodate all the diverse needs and learning abilities in our classroom.