This is the second of a two-part series based on my reflection of the Culturally Responsive Classroom pilot project, which ended in mid-November 2013.  I helped develop and co-facilitate this pilot project, which you can view at http://kceltculture.blogspot.com.   The difference between the first and second parts of this blog series is that this one includes thoughts and opinions of the participants and some of the facilitators.  To review the first part, please visit http://kcelt.org/2013/11/18/the-culturally-responsive-classroom-pilot-project-a-reflection-part-1/

Successes

Based on the feedback, the most valuable part of this pilot was the discussion, which was open, honest, and sometimes hard.  We were fortunate that most of the participants were like-minded most of the time, so it was only hard when opinions or interpretations opposed.  The success of the discussions had to do a lot with the temperament of the participants and facilitators, which are difficult to recreate in another context with more (different) participants.  There were some discussions that some of us would have liked to continue for a longer period of time, but that shows how passionate we were with some of the topics.

The website used for the pilot also received lots of praise, especially the page dedicated to making the case.  Participants especially liked the TED Talk by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

In this video, he gives both data and anecdotes to provide a path for all learners, regardless of their background, to achieve high levels of success.

Another success with this series is that it accommodated the schedule for most of the participants.  It wasn’t held in the first and last few weeks of the semester, and it didn’t demand much of their time although some wished it demanded a bit more.  Many, if not all, of the participants liked that there were only six modules as it seemed the perfect fit–not too many, not too few.

Finally, a great contributor to the success of the pilot were the facilitators, who provided various perspectives demonstrating that there is no best way to deal with challenging issues of diversity and intercultural communication in the classroom.  One great result from this pilot is that more people want to facilitate or co-facilitate a module or activity, so I’m hoping this success continues into the next phase.

My Reflection on Participant Feedback

I was surprised by the huge proportion of positive feedback concerning the pilot, and even more so by the positive feedback that was personally addressed to me.  Other than being modest and saying “thank you,” I feel like I don’t handle positive feedback well.  This pilot was a team effort as it was developed and facilitated by a team of individuals dedicated to learner success at Kirkwood Community College, so I’d like to pass along the positive vibes to them.  I was also happy to learn that most participants want to play a role in developing and/or facilitating the next phase of the Culturally Responsive Classroom.

Next Steps

Within the next few weeks, KCELT will be offering the Culturally Responsive Classroom series to all Kirkwood Community College faculty.  Look for it in Tempo!  Based on participant and developer feedback, we will be offering this series as a hybrid online course.  This includes 5 online discussion forums and 3 face-to-face meetings over a 6 to 8-week period.  We’re very excited to offer this new and improved version of the pilot to a larger faculty group.

As a preview, here are some of the big questions we will be answering either directly on indirectly:

  • How does my cultural background affect teaching and learning in the classroom?  Or how do my students’ perceptions of my cultural background affect teaching and learning in the classroom?
  • How do my students’ cultural backgrounds affect teaching and learning in the classroom?  Or how does my perception of their cultural backgrounds affect teaching and learning in the classroom?

KCELT is interested in learning more about the students’ point of view when it comes to intercultural communication in the classroom.  If you or someone you know has had a positive and/or transformative story about these issues, please do not hesitate to contact us.  These types of stories will help everyone at Kirkwood grow.

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