From a multicultural perspective, all students should receive an education that continuously affirms human diversity-one that embraces the history and culture of all racial groups and that teaches people of color to take charge of their own destinies. With regard to teaching, a multicultural perspective assumes that teachers will hold high expectations for all students, and that they will challenge those students who are trapped in the cycle of poverty and despair to rise above it.
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Multicultural Education Training
The Key to Effectively Training Our Teachers
By LaToya A. Jackson
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 LaToya A. Jackson, M.Ed.
All rights reserved.
As an educator for over 10 years, I have observed that urban classrooms are becoming more culturally diverse. This change has offered me valuable opportunities to become a more effective teacher. My students were instrumental in helping me develop broader, more inclusive classroom pedagogy. Most of the powerful lessons I learned stemmed from the important truths that related to their personal lives.
As a result, I created a classroom environment that made connections and was focused on and with the students' everyday experiences. Although this process continued to evolve for me during the years, it rooted from a solid foundation which embraced principles such as respect, social justice, responsibility for self and others, and empowerment. These concepts have been used in my personal living and were visible in my classroom. It was hard for me to believe that critical theorists would support my classroom pedagogy until I started my doctorate degree at Capella University.
As an African American woman, I have been subjected to discrimination in some shape or form on a regular basis. As a result, I am sensitive to the challenges my diverse students have or may encounter in our race-conscious society. For while race is not the only determining factor in the way in which we educate students it is a significant one and as such should be considered critically when fashioning learning models for students of diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Critical education theory stirs the passion for the why I teach. Critical education theory is conducive to educational needs of students of color (Darber, 1991). It has provided with opportunities to enable my students to face obstacles dominant to their culture that may one day or have already been imposed on them.
Most of today's students of minority receive a traditional education and have been trained to maintain their role as passive learners in the classroom. There are very few educators that incorporate engaging education that empowers the students and attempts to train them to be thinkers, communicators, and good citizens. Now, the educators that utilize creative and critical instructional strategies to teach and develop student-centered instruction and multicultural curriculum replicate culturally democratic pedagogy in their classrooms.
As a result of my own personal growth while developing learning environments in multiculturally diverse schools, I have realized that these experiences should be shared with other teachers and in other school districts. It occurred to me that, by collaborating with my fellow teachers in order to create more inclusive culturally diverse classrooms, I am aiding in the effort to transform the educational learning environments of public schools and to promote teacher effectiveness in the classroom. It is my commitment and duty to assist my fellow teachers and minority students to create tremendous possibilities in order to try and create a more just society.
A Multicultural Teacher Education Program offers a training program that is responsible for preparing current and future teachers with the necessary knowledge and/or skills to promote learning for all students of diverse populations. The training program is entitled the Multicultural Education (Diversity) Training program. Many educators all over the world have been required to attend this training in a traditional setting for many years. The curriculum for Multicultural Education programs are constantly being developed and restructured. This paper entails a traditional model curriculum approach which has not been implemented in present-day training programs. Background information will include the standards and competencies of the training program, the collaborative relationships between the curricula, and an overview of the program.
To prepare current and future teachers to promote meaningful, engaged learning for all students, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, or cultural background.
In most school districts, there is a lack of in-depth multicultural education training program in order to teach educators how to effectively instruct and meet the needs of a diverse population of students' which make-up our schools today. As a former Professional Development Facilitator in my former school district, I know firsthand that pre-service, beginning, and veteran teachers need to be trained in the area of multicultural education. Teachers need to know how to make their instruction, assessments and school climate more adaptive to all learners which is not the case in today's classroom. Jones and Fennimore (1990) explain:
"Too often schools do not legitimize the knowledge or experiences these [minority] children bring to school. Instead, schools are most likely to label these children as failures because their backgrounds--usually their language and culture--are seen as inadequate preparation for learning." (p. 16)
Multicultural education programs need to be expanded so that the drop-out rate can decrease and literacy rate can increase. In order for this to occur, I need to know how the teachers' having the lack of training needed to develop a culturally democratic classroom affects the needs of the students' so a plan can be developed in order to address the problem because "all students should receive an education that continuously affirms human diversity--one that embraces the history and culture of all racial groups and that teaches students of minority to take charge of their own destinies. ... With regard to teaching, a multicultural perspective assumes that teachers will hold high expectations for all students and that they will challenge those students who are trapped in the cycle of poverty and despair to rise above it." (Grant, 1990, p. 31)
The purpose of this program is to describe the types of changes that need to be made to current K-12 teacher multicultural education training programs in a County School District settings and to determine how the lack of information regarding the development a culturally diverse (democratic) classroom affects the needs of the diverse student population being met in the K-12 setting.
The key question the needs to be answered is: To what extent is multicultural education training needed by teachers as to meet the needs of the diverse student population and develop culturally diverse and democratic classrooms in the K- 12 classroom setting? Because teachers that have been trained with this detailed multicultural education training curriculum will have better student academic success than teachers that have not used this program.
The majority of existing teacher training programs lack the modern, groundbreaking theories that would prepare beginning and current teachers to equally share in the process of transforming our society and world which is dedicated to the principles of democracy, social justice, and human rights (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1985; Darder, 1991; Foucault, 1977; McLaren, 1994; Ramirez & Castaneda, 1974). Teacher training programs significantly need a new language that takes into the consideration the relationship between democracy and the establishment of those teaching and learning conditions that enable forms of self and social determination in students and teachers (Arnowitx & Giroux, 1985). Teacher multicultural education training programs need to be restructured in order to incorporate humanistic and critical education theory into the program which is essential to education in today's society.
Today's student population demographics have shifted and reflect a dramatic increase in the number of culturally diverse students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to various cultural backgrounds that attend urban public schools. The majority of these students encounter a greater degree of academic failure than students' of dominant cultures. According to Welch and Hodges (1997), traditional classrooms have not adapted pedagogy into the curriculum and educational setting in order to meet the needs of students from diverse cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, and racial and ethnic groups. "As the student population in American schools continues to become diverse, educators must have the ability to develop culturally sensitive curricula that integrate multicultural viewpoints and histories, apply instructional strategies that encourage all students to achieve, and review school and district policies that are related to educational equity" (www. ncrel.org).
In 1984, approximately one in four students were minority students (www.ncrel.org). According to Pallas, Natriello, & McDill (1989), by 2020, that number will increase to one in two students and many of the them will be poor (www.ncrel. org). Today, students of minority make up more than 70% of the nation's school population in the 20 largest school districts (Diaz, 1992). Minority students are trapped in an educational crisis that demands immediate attention. In addition, multicultural students are significantly behind their Caucasian peers when it comes to academic performance, disproportionately assigned to the lowest academic tracks and to special education, and disproportionately suspended (Ogbu, 1991).
As the United States becomes more racially and linguistically, educators have had to become more sensitive to the needs of this changing student population (Young, 1993). Young (1993) has argued that the profession of teaching is becoming ethnically unbalanced from the student population. This inequality increases the possibility of the needs of our diverse student population not being met due to the fact that minority teachers often serve as role models for bicultural students (Matute-Bianchi, 1986) and as cultural brokers for immigrant students (Grant, 1981).
Diversity within Academic Subjects
As educators, it is your responsibility to ensure that all students have access to high quality instruction in the area of mathematics. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, there has been a gap in students being proficient in mathematics since 1996. The gap between low-income multicultural eighth graders and their higher income classmates has increased by 8% from 21-29% (www.aecf.org). Currently in our nation, students are still not proficient in math therefore teachers need to know how to bridge this gap for our students of minority.
Our minority students also need to be proficient in reading by the time they reach fourth grade. In order for our students of minority to be academically successful, mastery and proficiency in reading is imperative. It is imperative because reading is utilized to learn in all subject areas therefore it is critical that teachers know how to effectively educate minority students. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 66% of minority fourth graders today in a public school setting have been reading below proficiency since 2013.
Even though statistics reveal that significant numbers of minority students are failing, some schools have succeeded at refining the academic excellence and cultural integrity of minority students. Teacher multicultural education programs must face the current challenge of providing new teachers with the knowledge and strategies of learning needed to develop effective multicultural teaching methods and practices. Grant (1990) states:
"From a multicultural perspective, all students should receive an education that continuously affirms human diversity--one that embraces the history and culture of all racial groups and that teaches people of color to take charge of their own destinies. ... With regard to teaching, a multicultural perspective assumes that teachers will hold high expectations for all students and that they will challenge those students who are trapped in the cycle of poverty and despair to rise above it" (p. 31).
The complexities of preparing pre-service and beginning teachers to teach in urban public schools cannot be compacted into one simple procedure or method. There are some existing components that support pre-service and beginning teachers' abilities to teach effectively. One supportive factor is to provide pre-service and beginning teachers with training in "clinical learning" which is the application of knowledge about teaching in the complex real-world classrooms (Darling-Hammond, Wise & Klein, 1995).
A New Prototype/Standard
Schools currently have many obstacles regarding student achievement, democracy, and empowerment. Some of the obstacles are structural, while others are interpersonal. Without the knowledgeable advocates for new minority students being involved in restructuring program, this progress is not likely to significantly reduce the number of minority students failing. At this point, there is a need to question and critique fundamental beliefs and rationale to systemically transform relationships, policies, and practices which calls for a new paradigm (Watts-Germaine, 1996). Banks (1991a) discusses that it is important to integrate multicultural education into current teacher education curriculum and states:
"An effective teacher education policy for the 21st century must include as a major focus the education of all teachers, including teachers of color, in ways that will help them receive the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to work effectively with students from diverse racial, ethnic, and social class groups" (pp. 135-136).
A new paradigm is necessary in order to prepare pre-service and beginning teachers differently than the traditional teachers were trained in their programs. Darling-Hammond (1997) discusses how traditional teacher training programs were founded on old concepts of learning when students were viewed as passive learners. In the process of preparing pre-service and beginning teachers in urban school districts to create and develop culturally democratic classrooms which will offer pre-service teachers, beginning teachers, and students an improved opportunity to become more effective.
Restructuring Teacher Training Programs
Heinecke & Stohl Drier (1998) has concluded that the education system is under enormous pressure to change. The structure of economic and societal demographics has changed and it requires high school graduates that possess complex reasoning skills to function as citizens in a multicultural society. Most schools, predominantly the ones serving minority and underprivileged populations, are not up to successfully completing this challenge. These types of schools are often employed with teachers that are under-prepared to educate using the methods required by performance-based reforms (Darling-Hammond, 1996).
In order for student achievement to improve, the reorganization of teaching and learning, teacher education programs, and educational policies must change. In order to achieve better teaching methods, teacher-preparation programs (multicultural education training), and policy points of view, society needs to develop a new approach to educational research which updates stakeholders about the nature of educational reform in an effective manner. In order to support educational change, improvements in teaching, teacher education, and educational research cannot and should not occur in isolation (Heinecke & Stohl Drier, 1998). In a multicultural society, visions of education strive for equity of opportunity to learn via three practices: heterogeneous grouping, highly interactive instruction that appeals to a wide variety of learning styles, and inclusive curricula (Shaw, 1993).
The Attrition Rate Among New Teachers
The attrition rate for beginning teachers is high. It has been estimated that one-third of beginning teachers leave the teaching profession during their first three years and one-half leave during their first five years (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2007). The high turnover rate of beginning teachers is another warning that shows teacher education programs that their programs need restructuring.
Excerpted from Multicultural Education Training by LaToya A. Jackson. Copyright © 2015 LaToya A. Jackson, M.Ed.. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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