Establishing a positive classroom climate is key for helping all students achieve success. When students feel valued, they are more likely to be motivated to learn. A teacher needs to create a supportive environment that embraces diversity and is culturally sensitive. Some ways to help build a positive classroom climate include:
- Value the language of the student. It is important that students see the value of their home culture and language as they transition to the English language and become acclimatized to American culture.
- Learn words in the student’s language, label things in the classroom, correctly pronounce the student’s name
- Pair the student with a buddy, however do not expect the buddy to be the translator
- Have several buddies
- Prepare the class for the new student and create a welcoming community
– Use literature
– Create experiential situations
- Decorate the classroom so that it is inviting to all cultures
- Research the country
– Encourage projects
– Have plenty of materials
- Make sure that the student knows the basics
– Routines, lunch times, etc
- Formally introduce the student to the class
- Seat the student near the teacher or near another ESL student
- Create an oasis – a place for the student to rest
- Involve the student from the beginning
– Buddies, materials, simple games
- Have a positive attitude – comment on the student’s talents and assets
- Explain to the student, in his or her first language, the language acquisition process and the reason why extra tutoring is needed.
Students take ownership of what is learned (creating an environment for empowerment). James Cummins (1989) created a model that illustrates the manner in which institutions can empower or disable English learners. Cummins rationale is that a student’s self-concept, which is constructed through the myriad interactions that occur in a student’s day, are central to developing a student’s sense of their role in society and their place at school. Cummins argues that teachers have the power to either empower or disable students through their classroom interactions and instructional strategies.
Cultural / language incorporation: Teacher’s encourage students to develop their primary language and use it. Students should view language and culture as the keys to making meaning. Some ways to help promote this include having signs around the room in a student’s native language and newsletters as well. This way students will be more apt to value their home language and culture. These strategies can also strengthen the home-school partnership.
- Home-School Interactions: Partnering with families is critical for all classroom teachers. Parents should be informed regularly about their child’s progress and should be encouraged to work collaboratively with their child.
Instructional Practices: Make the environment student centered
- Make the curriculum relevant to the student’s life.
- Use a student’s native culture in the materials whether through storytelling or books written in that language.
- The most empowering classroom is one where student have input and share ownership of what happens in the classroom.
- Be aware that each student learns differently and therefore instructional practices should be tailored toward student strengths. Be familiar with cultural tendencies as a reference point, but do not consider these strategies steadfast rules. Consider making a 100% smart chart at the beginning of the year where students create a pie chart that represents their individual learning preferences. (Linguistic, Musical, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, and Interpersonal) This visual representation will serve as a constant reminder that everyone learns differently.