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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Learning Hand-In-Hand: Working to Dispel Discrimination Through A Multifaceted Effort, An Interdependent Responsibility Resulting in the Discovery of Each Child's Potential

J Amatangelo, Cheryl Roitsch.

The pilot study emerged from an initial district-wide plan inclusive of Professional Development and the Site Based Decision Making Process resulting in the determination to become inclusive of teacher ownership with significant input respectful of cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic factors to enhance curricular relevance for the students affording time to establish cohesiveness within the constructs of the system. Thus, through this process an understanding of the critical relevance and significance of establishing reform goals emerged resulting in an awareness of what it takes to obtain such goals, as well as the significance of teacher input and the impact of the total process upon the education of students.

In addition we must educate teachers to model within the core of a humane educational curriculum, behaviors that cherish human rights, respect human dignity and respect life itself. Trivializing cultural experiences, incorporating a tokenism environment, stereotyping and misrepresenting ethnic groups and disconnecting cultural diversity from daily classroom life plant the seeds of indifference and further the educational gap of acceptance. Therefore, we must manifest classroom instruction which cherishes human rights and democratic ideals to counteract discrimination by modeling appropriate behaviors for children to replicate. Children must be taught to stand up for what is fair and to defend another, not with fists, but with reason. Community outreach and parent-professional collaboration go hand-in-hand in working to dispel racism and discrimination. This is truly a multifaceted effort, an interdependent responsibility resting upon the shoulders of parents, teachers, the community and the society at large.

To enhance curricular relevance and to manifest classroom instruction which cherishes human rights, democratic ideals and cultivates multiethnicity, the most significant outcome thus far with respect to the pilot study has been the identification of five teacher's roles upon childrens' learning and participation resulting in the establishment of a democratic framework for implementation that can be generalized to influence the learning environment for all children. Teachers take on and engage in meaningful roles indicative of the democratic process of investment becoming (1.) Providers, (2) Demonstrators, (3) Learners, (4) Observers and (5) Responders where children and teachers establish partnerships in redefining new forms of school democracy resulting in the discovery of each child's potential.

Essential to democratic teaching, educators in today's schools need to reexamine their teaching roles to enable them to meet the individual needs of all children placed in their care. Children and teachers establish partnerships through parent-child and teacher-child interactions to determine methods of personalizing educational experiences which are inviting and offer real involvement. Furthermore, student input is essential via various modes of communication. The educator's role includes acting as a participant, implementing the use of 'contact talks' as well as engaging in an attitude of an ongoing learner. Based upon the research results thus far, the significant characteristics of each role will be provided, for example to include:

Teacher as Demonstrator: The role of demonstrator is a most powerful role to enact. Here we can teach through example. We can model our enthusiasm for learning and our eagerness to learn. We can model acceptance and teach our students to be supportive and to truly listen to what another person has to say. We can demonstrate the fact that we are not afraid to make mistakes but it is through our mistakes that learning emerges.

Teacher as Learner: 'Teacher-as-learner' is indeed a unique perspective to adopt but it is probably one of the most important roles to undertake for we have much to learn from the children we teach and we must always afford time and opportunities to allow them to show us what they know and what they can do.

A brief overview of other significant variables noted in this pilot study will also be presented. All information will be referenced in handouts to be distributed to all participants.


J Amatangelo  (United States)
Prof. of ESE and ECE
Speech/Language/Hearing Science; Cognitive Science

Cheryl Roitsch  (United States)
Education Coordinator

Victoria Independent School District

  • TBA

(60 min Workshop, English)