My 5th-grade students come to me with rich family histories as first-generation born and first-generation immigrant Chinese Americans. In my bilingual classroom at a Title 1 school in Chinatown, San Francisco, students speak a variety of languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, many dialects of Chinese, and English. They use language flexibly with one another, demonstrating the adeptness needed in our multilingual society. Still, many of my students express English as the language of school and feel pressure to conform to dominant culture.
My role as an educator is to create space for student voices and to help sustain the cultural identities of my students.
This year, we no longer have funding for teachers to attend offsite professional development and conferences. I want to continue my own learning so that I can create a classroom culture where my students develop positive cultural identities and are able to challenge stereotypes within their own communities.
My colleague and I are requesting the opportunity to attend a professional development conference in the area of literacy. For the past year, she and I have partnered to bring storytelling into the classroom with family members, teachers, and other community members sharing stories connected to their racial, cultural, and linguistic identities. This has opened space for our students to learn about and reflect on their own identities. Attending the conference will allow me to share my work as a teacher-researcher with professionals around the country. I will also attend a workshop to reflect on and learn about racism, xenophobia, and biases in the American educational system. The workshop will give me practical steps and approaches to adapt my practice at the local, classroom, and personal levels.
I am confident that the knowledge I will gain from this conference will help me to become an even more effective teacher in a culturally sustaining classroom.
This conference will directly benefit my students by developing my proficiency in facilitating conversations about race and identity in the classroom. My students deserve educational experiences that honor their histories, cultures, and all aspects of their identities. Your generous donation will make a difference in providing those essential experiences for students.
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