My name is AKİF YILDIRIM. I’m a 49 years old teacher from TURKEY. I live in ANAMUR,which is a small town close to the city center,MERSİN. I think a lot about the big challenges the world is facing and how I can do something to help the situation. Massive migration in the world is a reality because of the poor conditions people are living in in third world countries, and I think it is our duty as human beings to help people who are forced to migrate as best we can. As teachers we are in a key position to promote intercultural competence and respect for different cultures.
1.1 Why address cultural diversity in schools?
The schools primary task is to teach the children the skills that they need to cope and succeed in our (future) society. As pointed out by Alicia in the video, a very important skill is the skill to work together with different kinds of people. Everyone needs to learn how to get along and work together with all different kinds of persons. I think intercultural competence and respect for other cultures are among the most important things we have to teach the children today. The skill to get along with others is one that everybody is going to need.
1.2Developing intercultural competence as a teacher
I think developing intercultural competence as a teacher is a life long task. As mentioned by Alicia in her video, we teachers need to accept that we don’t always have all the answers. We have to be curious and always willing to learn more. This means two things:
1. We have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone as also mentioned by Alicia and Erika. We have to be willing to try new things and remain curious and open-minded.
2. We have to be willing, and also make time, to really listen to our students. This sounds really easy, but it’s not. To really listen you first have to have a relationship with the students where they feel that they can trust you and they can talk to you.
Building this kind of trusting relationship takes both time and effort. It also involves some points already mentioned by several in the padlet:
3. Creating a good and peaceful atmosphere in the class. You have to create an environment where everybody feels accepted and welcome and the student’s don’t have to be afraid of making mistakes and they feel that they can be themselves. This also means dealing with any conflicts that may arise among the students in a manner that really shows you care and that every human being is equally valuable.
4. l strongly agree that a very close school-home cooperation and parental involvement is essential for every child but especially for immigrant students. The teacher can’t hesitate to contact the parents even about things that seem small. This can be difficult if the teacher and the parents don’t have any language in common, but as an interculturally competent teacher you can’t let this stand in your way. You just have to think positively and believe that you can work it out somehow and show respect for the parent and their culture, even if you don’t agree with every aspect of their culture.
I think the most difficult part of being an interculturally competent teacher is knowing yourself. I think that is also a life long journey. But on the other hand, if you struggle with this yourself, then it is easy for you to put yourself in the shoes of your students. All young people struggle with identity issues. But when it comes to immigrant children these identity issues appear much earlier. As a teacher you have to able to support the students in their search for their identity.
1.4 Developing intercultural competences of your students
Like Alicia pointed out, I think developing the intercultural competence in your students begins with setting the culture in your class from the beginning. You have to make the rules clear for everyone and lead by example. You have to get to know every student and their family. This takes time, but generally it is time well invested. When you have a good foundation, it makes your work much easier in the future.
I also agree with Alicia that you have to strengthen the group. Make them work together. Collaboration is one of the most important skills children need to learn. When they learn to cooperate they also learn empathy. As Alicia, I also believe that empathy can be taught, even if it takes a lot of practice for some. You have to actively teach the children to think about others. Different kinds of group task where the students have to work together are great for this. You have to strengthen the group and make them work together. This also generally has a positive effect on the atmosphere. Also movies, stories and drama are good ways to teach empathy.
I also think that kids have to learn how to express their opinion. With older students writing and different kinds of debates and discussions are good ways to do this. Students need to learn dialogue and they have to learn that it is acceptable to have different opinions.
1.5 Reflect on your own practices
“Open and reflective to accommodate and value the diversity.
You are a reflective practitioner who is open to trying out new things to ensure the diversity of your students is valued and recognized in your teaching approaches. You make the learning process relevant to your students by adapting resources or providing examples that reflect the student’s experiences. You try to integrate cultural diversity as a topic in your teaching beyond prescribed moments in the curriculum.”
All this sounds good and well… but… I want to know how to improve myself. I want to know how to get better. That’s why I’m taking this course (and others too). Almost daily I feel inadequate, like I should do more, and better. I just don’t know how… Do you others have this same feeling?
Reflecting on my own practices isn’t always so nice… Sometimes it makes me feel lousy… Sometimes I just ask myself, what the hell am I doing? How could I do this better…? The problem in my classroom is the very large differences in age and in knowledge. Most lessons I would just have to duplicate into 8 to be able to help everyone efficiently. I think I don’t use enough group work and dialogues and discussion. But the problem is that with most students I don’t have any language in common so the communication is limited to body language, acting, and a few words and phrases. This sets a lot of limits. Team work is possible among 2-3 students, for the rest it’s just unimaginable…
I’d like tips and ideas on how to involve everyone in teamwork when the students don’t have any language in common. Neither with the teacher nor with each other.