Promoting Diversity through Professional Development and Education

The Case Study

a) Considerations

Mr. Weston should consider the social interaction ability of Alana because she exhibits aloofness and becomes aggressive easily. Examining the cause of the withdrawnness and aggressiveness that Alana exhibits is critical as it helps Mr. Weston to understand her condition. Social interaction has significant benefits to children because it does not only promote learning, but also encourages development of life social skills.

Humans are social beings and thus they must have effective social skills for effective interaction. Psychologists define socialization as “the process whereby people acquire the rules of behavior and systems of beliefs and attitudes that equip a person to function effectively as a member of a particular society” (Romanowski, 2006, p. 126). Therefore, Mr. Weston should consider the ability of Alana to interact with other children in a bid to help her to interact well.

Mr. Weston should consider the socioeconomic status of Alana’s parents to help her to overcome her condition. Mr. Weston has repeatedly requested her parents to attend the parent-teacher conference, but they have neither attended nor replied to the invitation. In this view, Mr. Weston should find out what makes the parents not to attend the conference.

After probing Alana, Mr. Weston realized that while her father is too busy with work and cannot risk attending the conference without being sacked, the mother is also busy taking care of the other children.

Moreover, the family is contemplating being homeless due an impeding eviction. These socioeconomic factors complicate Alana’s situation, and thus Mr. Weston should consider them in helping Alana overcome the problems. Bradley and Corywyn (2002) assert that socioeconomic factors have multilevel impacts on individuals, families, and neighborhood and in this view, Mr. Weston should consider the level of socioeconomic impacts on Alana.

b) Impact on Cognitive Development

The social economic status of Alana’s family influences her cognitive development in many ways. Socioeconomic factors such as income, education, and occupation “are associated with better parenting, which in turn affects school achievement via skill-building activities and school behavior” (Bradley & Corywyn, 2002). Given that her mother is unable to read and his father is busy at work, most probably Alana will perform dismally in class.

Additionally, given that Alana’s family belongs to low socioeconomic class, her cognitive development might be poor, as she does not receive the educational support that children from affluent families get. Moreover, the inability of her parents to attend the parent-teacher conference is an indication of the nature of care that Alana receives in the family. As Alana is one of the students who have the poorest family backgrounds, she cannot afford to acquire essential materials for her studies.

c) Impact on Social Development

Socioeconomic status of Alana’s family also has considerable impact on her social development. Alana cries when Mr. Weston seeks to know more about her home and this implies that Alana is experiencing some problems at home.

After Mr. Weston examines whether the problems she is experiencing originate from home, school, or both, he realizes that the family has contributed significantly to her situation. The abnormal behavior that Alana exhibits originates from the socioeconomic factors that surround her life. Socioeconomic factors have overwhelming influence on socioemotional development of children.

According to Bradley and Corywyn (2002), children who belong to families of low socioeconomic status “more often manifest symptoms of psychiatric disturbance and maladaptive social functioning than children from more affluent circumstances” (p.377). Hence, the withdrawnness, aggressiveness, and emotional breakdown that Alana portrays emanate from underlying socioeconomic issues that she is experiencing at home and school.

d) Strategies and their Downsides

In a bid to help Alana cope with the conditions that she is experiencing, Mr. Weston and the parents should employ strategies such as cooperation when encouraging her, attending the parent-teacher conference, and providing her with essential academic materials. In the case study, it is evident that Alana is experiencing major problems at home. Her aggressive behavior, withdrawnness, and emotional breakdown indicate that she is not getting enough parental love.

Hence, encouragement from parents and teachers is necessary for her to gain self-esteem and start interacting with other children properly. Even in the face of eviction, the parents and teachers should cushion Alana from its consequences by encouraging her to face it with courage, for such an experience is quite traumatizing.

Her parents should show their educational and moral support by attending the parent-teacher conferences. Alana cries when asked why her parents do not attend the conferences, which implies that she feels abandoned.

Thus, Mr. Weston should plan with parents on the appropriate day to attend the conference. In the last strategy, Mr. Weston and parents should ensure that Alana has essential academic materials so that she can be at par with other children in school. Mr. Weston should advise the parents on how to get assistance whenever they are in dire need.

However, the above strategies have their downsides because their effectiveness depends on the prevailing circumstances. In the first strategy, although Mr. Weston and the parents can encourage Alana, they cannot prevent her from experiencing economic hardships associated with poverty and the impeding eviction.

Expressing moral support by attending the parent-teacher conference is the second strategy but its downside is that, the day of the conference might coincide with a working day when the father is busy. Even though Mr. Weston can arrange with the parents, it is difficult for the school administration to come up with a day that suits the needs of one parent. The downside of the third strategy is that the parents are poor and cannot guarantee providing Alana with the essential reading material at all times.

Ethnic Diversity in the Classroom

Ethnic diversity is important in classrooms because it provides an opportunity for children to gain socialization skills. According to Romanowski (2006), schooling provides children with diverse socialization opportunities because children can interact with their peers, other children of different ages, and adults.

Hence, schooling increases the number of people that children interact with in their classrooms. Victimization usually has detrimental effects on social and academic development of students. A body of the literature indicates, “Victims tend to have low self-esteem and feel more lonely, anxious, and depressed than their non-victimized peers do” (Graham, 2006, p. 317). These effects degrade academic performance in schools because they are distractive and demeaning.

Two strategies that a teacher should use in school to limit bullying and victimization include the use of punishment and education. The use of punishment is essential in punishing bullies to deter others from perpetuating the behavior. Additionally, the use of education is effective in transforming the general behavior of students. If students could understand the impact of bullying and victimization on other students and themselves, they would stop practicing it and thus transform the school culture.

Miscommunication

Differences in cultural backgrounds of communicators can result into miscommunication. For example, smile has different meanings in the United States and Japan. When Japanese are expressing an apology on serious issues such as the occurrence of death in a family, they use smile. In contrast, Americans use smile when expressing their happiness and friendliness (LeBaron, 2003).

Differences in smiling behavior due to cultural difference can cause miscommunication and give way to serious conflicts between the communicating parties. Additionally, nonverbal gestures such as nodding have different meanings depending on cultures. For instance, in the United States, nodding means ‘yes’ but it means ‘no’ in other cultures (Schwartz, & Conley, 2000). Nonverbal cues have a different meaning and are responsible for miscommunication amongst communicators from different cultures.

In an attempt to prevent miscommunication from occurring, communicators should understand other people’s cultures. Since the ability to express ideas contribute to miscommunication, adoption of standard language is necessary (National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, 2011).

Development of standard language would enhance intercultural communication. The use of nonverbal communication confuses communicators from different cultural backgrounds because they attach different meanings to same nonverbal cues. Hence, nonverbal communication should be minimal in instances of intercultural communication.

Communication Disorder

Communication disorders that affect hearing, speech, and expression abilities of children influence learning. Miscommunication usually occurs due to communication disorders that affect children and inhibit their learning (LeBaron, 2003). A child who has lost his or her hearing ability cannot understand anything in class.

This means that a teacher cannot give information via verbal means. Additionally, a dumb child is unable to ask for clarification in class and thus s/he will not learn like other normal students who have the ability to talk. According to Schwartz and Conley (2000), vocal and neural problems affect expression abilities and understanding of students during learning. Therefore, as learning involves the use of communication, communication disorders impair the transfer of information and cognitive assessment of the same.

There are different ways to promote positive communication among students with communication disorders such as speech, language, and hearing disorders. Students with speech and language problems require support services such as diagnosis of their problem, counseling, and rehabilitation programs to improve their conditions (National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, 2011).

Children with hearing impairments require assistive devices that amplify sound and enhance hearing. Hence, assistive devices are important in promoting communication among deaf students in the classroom.

Literacy Development

Literacy development among children begins from home literacy environments. Steensel (2006) argues that literacy development in children does not commence with writing and reading, but children acquaint themselves with literacy “through observing and participating in literacy activities in their homes” (p. 367). Hence, selecting a topic that revolves around home literacy environment would enable children create non-personal narrative.

Since elementary children understand football, I would instruct children to identify great footballers and explore their abilities. In the assignment, children would choose one footballer of their choice and provide a biographical narrative of the player. This move would offer an opportunity for children to create non-personal narrative. I would direct students to search from the Internet about famous footballers to gather sufficient information.

In an attempt to improve literacy development among children, I would apply the principle of externalization to expand their perception on issues. Formation of discussion groups in a classroom encourages collaborative thinking because children debate on various topics and share insightful ideas.

Korat (2001) concurs that meaningful learning among kindergarten children occurs during the process of externalization. Through externalization, children can exchange ideas and gain knowledge from their peers. Therefore, teachers should form discussion groups and encourage children to discuss issues because groups provide them with an opportunity to expand their learning skills.

Diversity Programs

Faculty diversity is an available program on the website of American Federation of Teachers. The program operates on the premise that ethnic and racial diversity has positive impacts on educational performance of students. Thus, the program focuses on enhancing faculty diversity to reflect racial and ethnic diversity of students.

Cultural differences do not only hinder communication among children, but also impair the learning process (LeBaron, 2003). In this view, faculty diversity plays a central role in promoting learning as children can interact with diverse personalities. As a program, the faculty diversity aims at enhancing diversity among faculty members so that they can keep abreast with the increasing diversity of students in learning institutions.

Faculty diversity program is important because it ensures that faculty members have ethnic and racial diversity that reflects the diversity of students, thus promoting learning. Diversity of faculty members is also important for it caters for the unique needs of families for effective interaction between parents and teachers.

Schwartz and Conley (2000) argue that a diverse society provides opportunities for all people, thus encouraging social development. Hence, I would recommend my classmates to examine the importance of faculty diversity program in the website of American Federation of Teachers because it provides invaluable means of enhancing diversity in learning institutions.

References

Bradley, R., & Corywyn, R. (2002). Socioeconomic status and child development. Annual Reviews Psychology, 53, 371-399.

Graham, S. (2006). Peer victimization in school: Exploring the ethnic context. Association for Psychological Science, 15(6), 317-321.

Korat, O. (2001). Cultural pedagogy and bridges to literacy: Home and kindergarten. Early Childhood Education Journal, 28(4), 225-230.

LeBaron, M. (2003). Cross-cultural communication. Retrieved 5 November 2012, from http://www.beyondintractability.org/bi-essay/cross-cultural-communication/

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. (2011). Speech & Language Impairments. NICHCY Disability Fact Sheet, 2, 1-7.

Romanowski, M. (2006). Revisiting the common myths about homeschooling. The Clearing House, 79(3), 125-129.

Schwartz, E., & Conley, C. (2000). Human Diversity: A Guide for Understanding (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw.

Steensel, R. (2006). Relations between socio-cultural factors, the home literacy environment and children’s literacy development in the first years of primary education. Journal of Research in Reading, 29(4), 367-382.