• by Evelyn López • IDRA Newsletter • January 2000 • 

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt of a final essay submitted by college-student Evelyn López at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her adjunct professor was Frank Gonzales, Ph.D., an IDRA senior education associate. Dr. Gonzales retired in December after 22 years of dedicated service to IDRA and to improving education.

As a future teacher in the 21st century, my goal is to reach as many of my students as possible by making them feel valued and successful at learning. In this course I have learned many things about different cultures, different beliefs, different ways of communicating and different ways of learning. All of this will be extremely helpful in my new career. I have also learned that racism is still alive in today’s world and that one of my responsibilities as a teacher will be teaching my students about other cultures and lifestyles.

Our world is becoming more of a global society every day. The classrooms of tomorrow will be filled with people of color. It is my responsibility as a teacher to know as much as I can about the students in my class. It is my responsibility to learn how to communicate best with them and their parents. I have learned that people from different cultures communicate in different ways.

During this semester we watched a video called American Tongues. This video showed examples of a few of the many dialects that are spoken in the United States. Sometimes people hear other people speaking in dialects that are unfamiliar to them and automatically assume that the person is uneducated. The film showed that this is not the case. Just because a person speaks with an accent or a dialect does not mean they are ignorant and uneducated. Throughout the semester I have learned that sometimes people speak in a certain manner when hanging out with their friends or in certain situations.

Some of my students may come from a home where Ebonics is spoken. It is my responsibility to take the time to understand what my students are trying to tell me. It is also my responsibility to try to understand where my students are coming from. The parents may feel intimidated if their child starts speaking in a different manner. They may feel intimidated when I speak to them in a certain manner. I will be considerate and open minded when dealing with people who are different from me. I will learn about different cultures so that I will not offend or be defensive.

Every student in my class will be given a fair chance. They may not begin at the same level regarding background, race and economic status, but I will do my best to make sure that each student feels that he is important and that he is able to learn. How will I make my students feel important? I will value them as an individuals. I will respect them and their culture and beliefs. I will listen to them. I will learn how best to communicate with them. I will teach them.

How will I teach them? I will use the seven different intelligences. I will appeal to the body/kinesthetic learner by incorporating movement and hands-on experience into my lesson plan. I will attract the visual spatial learner with eye-catching posters, colorful graphs and pictures. I will get in tune with the musical/rhythmic learner by incorporating music and musical instruments in to the learning environment. I will incorporate the logical mathematical intelligence into the sum of things by working with numbers and patterns and abstract shapes. I will reach the intrapersonal learner by journal writing and self exploration. I will talk to my students and let them talk to me and each other by working on group projects to get the interpersonal learner involved in the learning process. I will incorporate all of the seven intelligences in my lesson plans to ensure that each different type of learning will be covered so that every student will have a chance to get enthusiastic and excited about learning.

What will I teach? I will teach my students that the world is filled with many different people who do things in different ways. Different does not mean one is bad and one is good or one is good but the other is better. All people are created equal. People have to learn to hate. Fear of different people and different things causes hatred. I will teach not to hate but to value each other and each other’s culture.

I will incorporate multicultural activities, such as reading poetry from different cultures, viewing art from different cultures, and reading books about different cultures into my lesson planning. I will have different foods from different cultures for the students to make and taste. I will have them write about who they are culturally. I will have them listen to music from different cultures. I will teach them that just because one student may look different, may speak differently, or may do things differently does not make that person any less of a person or less educated. The more that my students are exposed to different cultures the less they will fear people who are different from themselves. Teaching multiculturalism will help to educate my students not to be racist, not to stereotype and not to hate.

How will I make a difference? I will strive to be the best teacher I can. I will challenge myself to be fair to all of my students. I will look at the “big picture” in all situations. I will set the example for my students. I will teach and learn from my students. I will do my part in trying to make racism a thing of the past. I will take the challenge to motivate and cultivate a learning environment in which students feel valued and successful in learning.

Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via e-mail at feedback@idra.org.

[©2000, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the January 2000 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]