Katerina Boukorou Learning Diary

Hello! I am Katerina Boukorou. I teach Ancient and Modern Greek Language and Literature and Greek and European History at 4th General School of Alimos - Makrigianneio.

Alimos is a suburb of South Athens, near the sea. Our school counts 370 students (age 15-18) and according to Greek standards it is meant to be a big secondary school.

Near our school is located the abandoned Athens's International Airport , Ellinikon. .

Now the abandoned structure has been taken over by thousands of migrants desperate to make their way further north into Europe.

Our school is from this year in partnership in Erasmus+ / KA219 / 2016-19 project "Refugees + Frontiers : Keep Europe United" and I am a member of Erasmus+ team.

I am very interested in migrant and refugees issue and I hope that "Cultural Diversity in my Classroom" will help me improve my teaching approach.

1.1 Why address cultural diversity in schools

Τhe way we react and teach about cultural diversity will help our students and ourselves to learn the way to live in a multicultural society. The school must be ready to teach not only humanity, but also to make students respect the “other”, the “different”. In the classroom the teacher teaches and inspire students to be positive to difference, to cultural variety. Τhis educational perspective is a first step for a better society.

1.2 Developing intercultural competence as a teacher

Every student of the same nation is not the same. Everyone has an own way to speak, react. They choose different clothes and they don’t have the same friends. I thing that a crucial step towards cultural diversity is to have the same opinion about nations, colors, religions. We are all the different and at the same time we are all same. Identities, cultures, traditions are the different perspective of the same thing. We all are human beings. Our differences are beautiful because beauty depends on differences. Being teachers that’ s what we must believe, that’ s what we must teach. And our students won’t forget that being in the same classroom with different nations is the best way to make new friends.

1.3 Your teaching resources

Last year the Second Year of our school visited Lesvos, which has become migrants’ entry point to Europe. The students saw the locals’ humanitarian effort to support the refugees. It was the best lesson for them! I am sure that they will never forget what they saw… Our school is from this year in partnership in Erasmus+ "Refugees + Frontiers: Keep Europe United" project and teachers and students are planning to work hard for this issue.

1.4 Developing intercultural competences of your students

The first thing we must achieve is to make children talk to each other. In our school there are students from China, Iraq, Georgia and other countries. There are a few, but living in Greece for some years they speak Greek and now they have friends here. We are talking in the classroom about the problems they dealt with when they first came here. When students realize that they weren’t friendly to the ones that now are their friends, they are thinking about their behavior to refugees now.

Maybe, if we try to develop their critical thinking, they will learn not only to respect cultural diversity, but also to realize that the differences between people could become the first step for a new point of view…

1.5 Understanding different models of living & working together in culturally diverse communities

The most present in Greece, or in my school, is the co - existence model. As the student are 15-18 years old, they usually attend lessons for many years in the Greece schools. We are trying to have classes with all cultural characteristics and the students are working together, no matter if they are natives or foreigners. We thing that interaction is the best way of co-existence. That’s how we try to learn about cultures, similarities and differences between nations, in order to integrate all the elements of diversity.

Module 2: Recognizing cultural diversity for learning in everyday practice

2.1 Example activities to develop students' intercultural competence

There are many projects that a teacher can do to make pupils contact with each other. Discussion about cultures and students’ beliefs is the first step. In my school students have already been involved with Comenius projects and from this year they are going to participate in an Erasmus+ project about migration. Films, photos, videos, role playing are also very useful for the development of intercultural competences in our classes.

2.2 Supporting students with different first languages

I am a teacher in a Senior High School and my students’ age ranges from 15-18 years. Most of them are native speakers and some of them have one foreign parent. There is also a small number of second or third generation immigrants. All of them speak the Greek language as native speakers. They retain their cultural and religious identity and occasionally, they are encouraged to present in the classroom aspects of their culture. As long as the relationship between students and students-teachers is based on acceptance, solidarity and interest in diversities, the problems will be fewer and fewer.

2.4 Creating a sense of belonging and identity in your class and school

My classes have always a class identity, not because I make something, but because that’ s the way the students react. I am not quite sure if diversity is considered as an advantage or disadvantage, but I am sure that students in my school don’t think that their foreign friends are something different. Maybe it’s a result of being together since their childhood. My colleagues and I use to collaborate activities to make all of us, students and teachers bond, because we think that doing things together creates common experiences.

2.6. Developing empathy and open-mindedness

I think that empathy and open-mindedness are two large goals for both, our students and ourselves. Teaching literature and history, working in groups, roll playing, projects like e-twinning and Erasmus+ are some ways develop empathy and open-mindedness. Both of them will be also developed as students realize that what is different between them is what is going to be the base of strong relationships among them.

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Katerina Boukorou

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