My 3rd grade students attend a very small, rural Pennsylvania school. Many of my students come from low-socioeconomic families and over half our school qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches. As educators, we feel that it is our responsibility to not only teach our students to be great learners, but to be great citizens and leaders as well. However, because of curricular constraints, character education is not always given the time it explicitly needs to be taught. We preach kindness, respect and tolerance, but our students desperately need to be taught HOW to be kind, respectful, and tolerant towards people of all cultures and demographics.
Building a classroom community is one of the most important things a teacher can do because it has such a strong correlation to student academic achievement and emotional well-being.
In the same way that we provide direct instruction in mathematics and language arts, I believe we should provide the same in character education. The future of our world rests in the hands of our children!
Our school rests in a very small, overwhelmingly white community. The children I teach are proud of their varied European heritage, but do not have much exposure to different cultures and parts of the world. Because of that, I highly value literature within my classroom and I feel that reading is the gateway to inspire future learning!
To teach our children to be tolerant, we need them to truly see and understand the diversity that exists in our world.
Ignorance breeds hate, and to create a more peaceful world we must invest in educating our children about populations that are unknown to them. They need to see EVERYONE. That's why I am working to create a diversified, multicultural learning library for my students. I have a book shelf in my classroom exclusively for a character education learning space, and the book resources included in my project will build a cultural mosaic of stories for my students about acceptance, pride, and overcoming adversity.
Within my classroom I want to create a space that is separate from their regular learning library where everyone can explore and find comfort in being different. It is my hope that this area will house an ever-evolving collection of resources where my students can celebrate diversity, immerse themselves in new learning, and feel empowered to change the world!
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