Culture and time: things to consider
"Enjoy your three weeks of silent, independent revision, see you in the New Year."
Thus I dismissed the lower sixth last week. Earlier in the lesson I had tried to gee them along by relaying how Daley Thompson had always made a point of training twice on Christmas Day because he knew his competitors would be having the day off. The blank looks said it all - Daley Thompson's retired from athletics in 1992 - a full 4 years before the lower sixth were born.
I should have known that this cultural reference had had its day. Added to this Daley Thompson was a British athlete and so wouldn't have had any particular significance anyway for many in the set (1 American, 1 Ukrainian, 1 Nigerian....)
This reminded me that working in a school with a significant portion of overseas pupils necessitates a more thoughtful approach to the examples used and the references made to popular culture. There isn't necessarily a huge amount of shared hinterland to draw upon.
The following sensible list of things to consider in your teaching is offered by experts the field:
- Do the course documents take into consideration the individual needs of the learner? (Initial Assessment, Scheme of work, ILP)
- Is the learning environment conducive to learning? (layout, accessibility)
- Are there a variety of learning styles included in the teaching - auditory, visual and kinaesthetic? (Schemes of work, lesson plans)
- Is time allocated during learner’s induction for information and discussion on equality and diversity, including policies, etc? (Scheme of work, lesson plans, ILP, complaints procedure)
- Setting appropriate ground rules with learners (Lesson plan)
- Are appropriate assessment methods used for all learners? (Differentiation)
- Using appropriate and sensitive language and challenging inappropriate use of language
- Is diversity included within teaching - making reference and using examples from a variety of cultures, religions, traditions, exploring stereotyping and other topics around equality? (Lesson plan, resources)
- How is prejudice and stereotyping challenged in the classroom?
- How do you build on learner diversity as an educational resource?
- Are teaching resources accessible for all learners?
- Do learners require additional resources to help them to access information? (Initial assessment, ILP)
- Are people from diverse backgrounds, socio-economic, cultural, people with disabilities visible in course materials?
- Are learners given the opportunity to discuss additional support at the beginning and throughout the course?
- Is there a non-threatening, open culture in which learners feel able to voice concerns?
One key area, of course, where teachers can help pupils from different cultures is by sensible use of differentiation, as I explain in this post.