Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Post 9/11 Classroom--Embrace Diversity!



As a teacher, it is my responsibility to help eradicate many of the myths surrounding those of Arab descent. I teach in an urban school where the student body is 99% black. (We have 1000 students, two of whom are white, one who is Asian, and one Arab-American. We have many students that are Muslim, but not necessarily of Arab descent.) I teach technology to grades one through six. The Arab-American (who appears to be Caucasian) is in one of my fourth-grade computer lab sessions. His mother arrives with him in the morning in traditional Arab garments speaking to him in Arabic. (So that means Mohammad is bilingual.) In a school that is 99% black, I am sure that he cannot help feeling alienated. Last year was his first year in the school. He seemed to be nervous (understandably so) and hyperactive, always having to move a part of his body, tapping his hands and his feet constantly. This year, perhaps because he has become more acclimated to the school surroundings, he is calmer and more focused in my computer lab.

How can I, as a teacher, help Mohammed and not further alienate him?

...all rights reserved...to be continued...

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