Mr. Mayo's Classroom

Diversity

Diversity is a subject best handled delicately and yet boldly. In my classroom, I will be working a nearly evenly mixed population of Hispanic, African-American, and White students with a slight female majority. I know nothing of my students' genders or sexualities, but I will try to offer a space that openly acknowledges them even if they do express their differences.


I hope to achieve this in part by the language I model for the students. Tip #1 of Mr. Mayo's Survival Guide for this Classroom states, "The use of the term 'Indian' to refer to the indigenous populations of the Americas is discouraged: Indians are from India. It will be accepted to use the general term 'Native American', but it will be considered better practice to use 'Peqout', 'Navajo', 'Dakota', etc." It will be my job to teach my students how to use language and to deal with diverse cultures. As such, words like 'retarded', 'Nigger', or 'Polack' will be discouraged. Instead, I imagine the first times these words appear in my classroom, I will invite the students to think on their meaning and whether they are/are not vulgar.


A second way I hope to achieve celebrating diversity is by being active with each student and focusing on really understanding each one. I should have no more than 60 students from all three of my classes, each class have 90 minutes. This will give me a lot of opportunity to seek feedback and offer my guidance to all students. This will begin with my greeting them at the doorway and end with my cheerful, if zany, manners of wishing them a good day. It will be written in the feedback in their journals, on their essays, and my discrete counsels.


For example, my eighth grade class will be learning about U.S. History for the social studies aspect of my Humanities class. I've made it my mission to keep a global perspective while we learn about U.S. History. For one of our first units we will be discussing the different explorers and the colonies founded by different European powers. I will be teaching them about the powers of 'Cause and Effect' by asking them first, 'why does Mexico speak Spanish, Brazil Portuguese, and Quebec French?' Then asking them, 'if colonizers from 500 years ago can cause people to speak the languages they do today, what is happening today across the U.S. that have profound effects on the different peoples who live here now?'


A third way I hope to achieve celebrating diversity is to first create and then enjoin my students to participate in creating original literature to be displayed in the classroom. I am making my own posters for the classroom, and they contain my poetry, my sayings, my ideologies. This is in part to give students a chance to know who I am. It is also models good writing and a willingness to share. Finally, I hope it achieves a sense that is okay to share our work and thoughts openly.