Cultural Differences Effect Student Academic Growth

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It is unusual, but not unprecedented, for a non-Catholic student to enroll in a Catholic school. In my Catholic elementary school, there are some non-Catholic students, who are predominantly Christian. Rarely, do we enroll a student who is Muslim or Jewish. It becomes our responsibility to be respectful of religious and cultural differences, while at the same time, true to our mission to evangelize to bring all students to Christ. Global awareness and culturally responsive teachers are necessary for student achievement. Successful teachers need to understand how cultural differences effect student academic growth. In my own school, a young teacher was frustrated with her kindergarten student, a first-generation, Vietnamese-American, who refused to look at her and speak up. Unknown to this teacher was the fact that within this child’s culture, it is considered rude for children to look directly at adults, or even to speak to them when unsure of answers. This lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of the teacher created tension in the classroom and underscored an area for professional development for that teacher, specifically, and perhaps others as well. In using the Framework for Teaching administrators will collaborate with teachers to identify areas for growth in terms of culturally responsive pedagogy. In addition to maximizing student learning, culturally responsive teachers model Catholic social teaching. “When students know something about each other,
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