Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tolerance in the Classroom

I taught ESL in an Anchorage, Alaska Elementary school for 9 years. It is hard for people to imagine that there are over 100 languages spoken in Anchorage and over 18 cultures and languages were represented at my school. Not only was 50% of the school population bilingual but 90% of the school was on free and reduced lunch. There were cultural gang wars in the neighborhood between my students older brothers and sisters and so many of my students were already intolerant of other cultures before they entered school. In my learning center where I worked with the most limited English proficient students I had "be" rules.
Be respectful
Be kind
Be responsible
Be helpful.
We had a community meeting where we sat in a circle and talked about being respectful to each other, to me and also my being respectful to each of them. Everyone signed the contract and it also went home to parents for them to sign. Believe it or not every contract was signed!!! I also decided to teach ESL classes to my parents at night and I was amazed at how many showed up. I did lots of activities where they would have to practice conversations or "polling" with different partners and soon we were one big family. We all worked together to have a Multicultural Night and they shared food, flags, special clothing and dances. It was amazing to watch how they interacted and ate each other's native dishes and even danced together. From then on we held  a Multicultural night every year and more and more parents participated. It truly changed the climate of the school. It may not have ended the gang wars but the ESL students and their parents felt welcomed and respected at our school.
Arlene- LMN Tree
Pin It!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Pin It button on image hover