As an ESL teacher, I value diversity as not only important but necessary to foster a well-rounded and productive educational environment.
Culturally Responsive School Initiatives
I have facilitated many initiatives that have helped Banaadir Academy become a more culturally responsive school.
In order to address low first-language literacy and limited background knowledge about the U.S. education system, I collaborated with students and Somali staff members to produce a series of bilingual training videos for SLIFE and their parents, detailing school procedures and norms. An example video can be found in my at bilingual-parent-support-videos page.
In addition, I facilitated the creation and implementation of our school’s interpreting team. Both of these initiatives led to a marked increase in parent-teacher communication.
In a similar vein, I implemented the Somali Word of the Week program, a series of linguistic and cultural lessons–co-taught by both Western and Somali teachers–designed to expand staff understanding and appreciation of Somali language and customs.
When teaching my new-to-country Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE) family vocabulary, I found that the Western-centric imagery and material for teaching family structure was not working for my students. Part of this, is that the material in a lot of ESL texts is not representative of the cultures many students come from.
To counter this, I created some material using actual photos of Somali families as well as some graphic organizers that reflected their family structure as well as using names that were more representative of their background. The result was telling. Students picked up the vocabulary faster and used it more effectively.