Anywhere. Anytime.

Activity 9 – Cultural Responsiveness in Practice

Ethics relates to the “learned behaviours shaped by societal influences” (MindLab portal notes) and many professions have a Code of Ethics, to which all employees and organisations are expected to follow. In Year 12 Computer Science, for example, we examine the Code of Ethics to which computing professions must adhere.

In my current classes I do not teach any Maori students however I teach a large number of students of Asian ethnicity; naming South Korea, Taiwanese and Chinese. It is to these ethnicities and cultures to which I am more attuned rather than Maori, simply because of the makeup of students in my school.

An example of being culturally responsive is in ensuring that I pronounce students names correctly, especially when they are from a language other than English. If that means I need to practise the pronunciation in my own time and/or seek assistance from the student in question, to ensure I am saying their name correctly, so be it. Another example of being culturally responsive is in making sure that I do not write student’s names in red ink. In South Korea, for example, red is the colour of death. Hence, when South Korean students made this point to me a number of years ago, I made sure that all student names are written in a colour other than red; a practice I still adhere to today.

School-Wide Activities

Because my school includes a large number of international students, we collectively make an effort to include these students in all aspects of school life. Special ‘reception’ classes are held for students who spend most of their lessons learning the English language, yet these students are placed into regular mainstream tutor groups. Thus, there is the opportunity for these students to make friendships with domestic students and other international students who take mainstream classes. We also have a couple of members of staff who are able to speak Korean or Chinese and these colleagues are sometimes asked to aid as translators when speaking with parents or caregivers. These students are also encouraged to participate in at least one co-curricular activity such as a sport, coding club or the school choir, which gives another opportunity for these students to integrate into the wider life of the school.

Learning Activities

As a staff, we received quite a bit of professional development from the ESOL department last year about how we can support students whose first language is not English. Ideas such as creating topic-by-topic glossaries and using simplified language when writing/giving instructions are some of the tips that I now conscientiously integrate into my classes. On occasion, I have also asked students to provide words being defined in their own language/script, so that we may collectively build up a glossary of key words in English and numerous other languages. I also think that being open with students in this way allows them to see that no matter what their level of English or cultural background, they may still contribute and experience success in and out of the classroom.

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