Navigating Different Cultures at Home and at School Case Study

Who is in my classroom? Teachers preparing to work with culturally diverse students, Alan Bates & Miranda Lin

The intent of this study is to explore the ways in which teachers try to understand many components of the community that their students and their families are a part of. This includes the differing ethnic groups, cultural backgrounds, languages/dialects, traditions, beliefs, events, and symbols that students are exposed to. Several educators in the Midwest were interviewed in order to determine their perceptions of diversity. The outcomes of this study show that educators describe many methods, yet they exhibit an absence of a complete grasp of diversity. “Teachers reported a reliance on outside sources such as guest speakers and children around the world unit but failed to utilize their colleagues, parents, and their own experiences” (Bates & Lin, 2014, pp. 27). It is imperative that educators truly understand their students and who they are culturally, not just at a surface level. “All students in every classroom have something to offer; it is the responsibility of the classroom teacher to determine what that may be” (Bates & Lin, 2014, pp. 37).

  • In order to establish a positive home-school relationship there needs to be trust and collaboration between the parents of students and teachers. One possible way to create a strong relationship is home visits, in which teachers can truly immerse themselves in the lives of their students. They can get a better grasp of what their students experience outside of school and learn more about their backgrounds. This allows students, their families and teachers to connect at a much more meaningful and deeper level. 
  • Utilize and take advantage of community events and resources, which not many teachers said they did in the study. Attending these types of events enable teachers to learn where their students come from and it can help teachers understand the whys behind students’ behaviors, values, traditions, etc. “Regardless of ethnic background or cultural differences, their students still come from different families with different beliefs, customs, and the like” (Bates & Lin, 2014, pp. 34).