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Teachers and Teaching Minority Students
Race and Ethnicity in Education
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WHAT ABOUT THE TEACHERS ROLE IN DIVERSE EDUCATION? 

The role of teachers in education is critical, as they are the people that keep our educational system going. Their importance on the critical periods of student’s lives is clear. The following analysis examines how teachers can negatively impact student achievement.

In classrooms that contain minority students it is important that teachers be considerate and caring of their cultural differences. Their expectations and attitudes towards these students can have a significant affect on their outcome and experiences. One report found that a mere 17% of teachers teaching limited-English proficient classes or diverse classrooms were prepared for this job. It also found that only 30% reported being somewhat prepared, and 33% moderately prepared to face the challenge of a culturally diverse classroom. Thus, it is important that all teachers are trained to be prepared for a diverse educational environment and what it entails.

Preparing these teachers requires a few different variables, as described by Renee White-Clark. She maintains that it is important for teachers to embark on a reflection. White-Clark maintains that during this teachers should “look within ourselves and realign our deepest assumptions and perfections regarding the racial marker that we carry.” With this new self-awareness and knowledge of personal perceptions, teachers can develop more appropriate attitudes in regards to the diverse classroom and the students that they teach.

White-Clark also discusses the important of training to ensure that all teachers are conscious and knowledgeable about the dynamics of a culturally diverse setting. Through collaboration and support from other school faculty, teachers can share stories, conquer challenges and take on the responsibility as a group to improve cultural awareness.

Today, a mere 13% of all teachers are minorities, and over 40% of schools in the United States have no minority teachers. Thus, the collaboration of faculties provides teachers with grounds for cultural discussion and support to ensure that awareness is present.

One educational author, Rosalie Rolon-Dow, demonstrates the importance of cultural consideration when teaching middle school Puerto Rican girls. Without significant care and attention these girls may experience academic failure. This requires a more tight knit connection between teachers and the Puerto Rican community. This also involves teachers to acknowledge students not just as students, but also in their roles outside of the educational realm.

Teachers’ perceptions of students are what are often behind “tracking”. Adequate preparation of our teachers for any classroom environment will help ensure that racial perceptions, behavioral expectations and special education placements do not occur.