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Understanding student needs is the first step of establishing strong foundations for their academic livelihoods. Teachers should therefore embark on understanding student needs and backgrounds at the beginning of school academic programs. Failure to undertake this process could lead to a poor relationship between professors and students. In reinstating this importance, subsequent sections of this paper shall concentrate on ways that high school and college academic staff can improve their relationship with their Asian American students. The paper is arranged in four sections: the first shall include a brief description of Asian American students; the second with cultural aspects that make Asian American students portray their most prevalent characteristics, the third with ways of improving their relationships with teachers, whereas the fourth section deals with impacts of this study on the practice of teaching. A concluding part will highlight the important points made herein.
Asian American Student Group
The Asian American student group described in this paper refers to students of Asian origin, no matter their generation in the United States. The group is hereby classified under one category because that is how they are classified in American classrooms, despite fact that some of them are born American and their families have been in the country for many generations. These groups of students for many years fought an aggressive battle of being recognized as individuals and not as a representation of a race with various stereotypical characteristics (Lee, 2006, p. 126). Asian children born of American citizens get in so much confusion when teachers, fellow students as well as the American populace fail to recognize the fact that they are as Americanized just like their white colleagues. This leaves them with so much confusion whether they could drop one racial identity for the other or combine them (American and Aidan) both. With regard to academics, Asian American students face the burden of being classified as smart, keeping to themselves, quite in class discussions, lack of participation in extra-curricular activities, and politeness among others (Frost, 2000, p. 304). This has left them so much confused on whether to conform these wide held mentalities, which would lead tom self alienation from rest of academic body, or disregard what works in their academic pursuits that works wonders in their scores.
There are several cultural values that Asian American students exemplify and should consequently be included in academic programs. Most of these values are taught by parents at home from earlier stages of children’s academic lives. The first value is the one which exemplifies the importance of collaboration with other students is vital for the success of all (Chavira & Phinney, 1995, p. 51). Though the value at home from tender ages, Asian American students in high school and beyond can choose to exercise it or not. Any failure to excise the value in classrooms or study groups should not be taken to represent the entire Asian student fraternity. Teachers dealing with Asian American students should therefore embark on employing this value in their classes; they shall be easy for the students to relate to the issues the value and its practicality. The value would also be of great use to other students.
Secondly, Asian American students are taught that teachers as academic authorities should be respected at all times (Lee, 2006, p. 120). This is an important value taught at early states of these children’s academic lives. The value makes them understand the importance of teachers in helping them achieve greater academic goals. Respecting teachers lead to students listening more to what was being taught in the classes. Employing the value in schools with this group of students would therefore lead to teachers having easy and productive time in class, reason being the attentive classes. Just like the aforementioned value, the application of this aspect would further influence non Asian students, which would lead to teachers having respectful student body that was ready to listen and learn.
Third, Asian American children are taught of the value of hard work in their academic endeavors (Fenton et al., 2000, p. 660). This is surely something that this group of student body has been practicing and are actually associated with. However, some teachers fail to understand that though there exists a stereotype of hard work in academics, there still exists some children that under perform, and are therefore not given the attention they need. Such students may fail to ask for help because of the assumption teachers of Teachers Assistants could have, meaning that academics continue to suffer. It is therefor important for teachers to consider preaching the value of hard work and helping Asian American students, as well as their colleagues, achieve their academic goals.
Fourth, parents of Asian American children have a positive tendency of encouraging their young ones to complete education in speedy and timely manner so that extra funds could be used to educate siblings (Chavira & Phinney, 1995, p. 48). This value helps Asian American students to work hard in their academics not just for funds, but also to start earning their own living. Therefore, teachers with Asian American children in their respective classes should embark on instilling the value, yet again, in their classrooms. Since the students themselves understand importance of the above mentioned values, it becomes easy for teachers to remind them of the same, which also provides students from other racial groups with opportunities to learn these important academic values. As a result, both teachers and students would understand each other and therefore embark on developing relationship that would benefits students academically.
Developing Positive Racial Attitudes
This section shall explain some of the best ways of developing positive racial attitudes between teachers and Asian American students. First, teachers should ensure strengthening student’s understanding of importance of diversity in their day-to-day lives. This should involve encouraging students from all the represented races to use their perceived differences as strengths to build their respective academic endeavors. Asian American students should especially be encouraged to embark on taking pride on their strengths in academics, and consequently help other group of students to improve their performance. By taking this measure, teachers would have greatly improved improved students’ courage and confidence to face, work and help colleagues in class work. Students would on their part gain the courage to meet with teachers when they need help or need to just keep communicate with teachers.
Teacher should also encourage Asian American students to mix with other groups rather than continuing to keep onto themselves. Students should be made or encouraged to take such measures at the beginning of academic programs, because taking longer would lead to development of friendship circles that would be hard for dismantle. Teachers themselves should be at the forefront of ensuring that they themselves are mixing with all groups of students, which would become an example for rest of the student body. It shall be all for nothing if teachers just preach the importance of intergroup mixing and they themselves were not taking steps to that direction. Such measures should take place throughout academic person, and teachers must ensure it happens, failure of which would lead to fall outs before shortly after undertaking the measure.
The beginning point of helping Asian American to improve relationship with teachers and fellow students should be discussion groups, and opening of communication channels between teachers and students. Teachers should especially ensure that student have access through several means, if possible, around the clock. Providing Asian American students with access to opportunities to interact has the possibility of improving relationship between the two. In addition, teachers should ensure of arranging for regular conferences with a group of students regarding issues that could be affecting them as a group (Chavira & Phinney, 1995, p. 40). Though the first few meetings could be characterized with fear of expressing self, students would afterwards feel free to communicate with teachers. In addition to conferences with groups of students, teachers should also embark on arranging meeting with individual students and discuss various issues, ranging from academics to home country among others.
The above meetings between students and teachers would help in removing any bias that either among them could have had. Teachers would especially know about students’ background and therefore improve relationship between the two. After the meetings, teachers should embark on improving their understanding of regions or countries that their Asian American students could have originated from. In fact, this should become like a hobby that teachers should cultivate consistently. This would lead to a situation where teachers and students would develop a culture of getting used to each other and discussing lots of issues. The end result would be nothing short of aggressive development of positive racial relationships between the two, which would lead to better academic performance.
Teachers should also embark on treating each student as an individual, not like a representation of a wider racial group. When this is done, students would feel so appreciated by the said teacher and therefore develop a decent educative relationship. The first point of ensuring this happens is the just mentioned regular meetings and opening-up of communication channels between teachers and students. Teachers should do their best in seeing personality and capability differences between different students of Asian origin. In fact, teachers see these students with individuality used in white students. Students, too, should feel obliged to exemplify greater differentiation for rest of their peers, which is best shown by illustrating independence. Teachers should, however, be on the forefront of cultivating independence among the student body—this will make teachers’ work easier as they would be dealing with students that they understand better.
Teachers should do all their best in ensuring that Asian American students are helped in overcoming the model-minority stereotype that has for long characterized their academic lives (Frost, 2000, p. 297). This group of students face serious pressure of being seen as the smartest inn their respective classes and especially of subjects regarded as tough, such as sciences and math. This tends to affect students who perform below societal expectations, because they may shy from approaching teachers of teacher’s assistance for help (Yin, 2000, p. 1). Teachers should therefore be on the forefront of showing such students that they understand that all Asian American students are individuals with different abilities and capabilities. This would be the beginning pint for positive relationship; students will start seeing that teachers understand them well and are concerned with their interests.
One of the most neglected area that could lead to the development of proper relationship between the two groups is the pronunciation of student names. Teachers happen to have a low regard in the way names of Asian American students are pronounced. Instead, some teachers s choose to simplify calling names through simplified ‘American way’, which could be totally wrong from students’ preference. Students may therefore feel as if teachers care little about them, thus distance themselves further. In order to change this trend, it is vital that teachers ask students at the beginning of academic programs on how they would like their names pronounced, simplified, or on which nick names should be used. This would make students feel more appreciated and that teacher have greater concern on students’ welfare, thus lead to the development of great relationship between the two.
Importance of this Project
This project is of great value to teachers relating constantly with Asian American students, and will benefit both teachers and students. First, teachers would be in a position to understand students’ needs and therefore embark on developing best practices in delivering to their students. With the improved understanding of their students, teachers are able to deal with them at individual basis. That is, Asian Americans students would no longer be seen as representations of a wider racial group with some characteristics that must be exemplified by all members. On the other hand, Asian American students would start seeing that teachers understand and see them as individuals. Secondly, the improved relationship would to students gathering the courage to approach teachers when they were struggling in their academics. This will be a major shift from current situation where students shay away from requesting for help.
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As a practicing teacher of Asian American origin, this researcher’s work will immensely be impacted by the study. To begin with, the researcher is now in a position to understand some extra strategies of helping Asian American students deal with various challenges in the American academic arena. Some of the new strategies include reminding students on Asian values that were taught in early days of students’ academic lives. This strategy is a new one and would be applied in classes henceforth. In addition, the strategy will also be applied with regard to Students from other racial groups, who will benefit from the values that have helped Asian American students in their academics. Another new strategy is that of holing conferences with students on a regular basis and another set of meeting with individual students. All these practices would lead to improved communications with students, which will lead to educative relationships. By undertaking the project, this researcher has been exposed able to understand that successful teaching begins by first understanding student needs, meeting with them regularly, and developing interests regarding students’ region of origin and race. The aforementioned processes should actually be employed by teachers across the nation; it makes teaching jobs easier as teachers get to know students’ needs with ease.
Lee E. (2006). Working with Asian-Americans. New York: Guilford.
Chavira, V. and Phinney, S. (1995). How adolescent and young adults cope with ethnic related problems. Adolescence Research Journal, 5, 31-53.
Fenton, R., Wallace, S., and Fisher, C. (2000). Minorities’ distress in colleges. of Youth and Adolescence Journal, 29, 659-671.
Frost, A., Lorenzo, M. and Reinherz, H. (2000). Social and emotional functioning of older Asian American adolescents. The Social Work Journal, 17, 291-314.
Yin, H. (2000). The “model minority.” Los Angeles Times, p. 1.