In my own educational experience, education used a very western-style of practice. Our classrooms had a western layout where the teacher stood at the front and lectured us while we sat in rows of desks and rarely had the opportunity to be involved in the lesson. As students, we were hardly ever allowed to decide how or what we learned. Our lessons also rarely related to our experiences and the different cultures in our classroom. Often students would ask the teachers how something would relate to our present or future lives and the answer never seemed to satisfy anyone. What we were taught about other cultures and experiences was all through research-based projects that rarely gave comprehensive or lasting knowledge.
The school I went to had a great sense of community because of the way the teachers engaged in our outside world. The teachers tried to get to know their students and showed a genuine interest in the stories they told. The teachers didn’t just listen to us either, they went out of their way to ask you questions and catch up on your life. This helped create classrooms where we could talk to our teachers if we needed help and felt safe sharing during class. The teachers also created this sense of community by being actively involved in school events. This helped the students get excited and feel comfortable participating in these events as well. The teachers not only treated their classrooms as a community, but the entire school and this helped every student feel at home in the school.
One way we can be hospitable in our classroom is by getting to know who students are and the way they best learn. Being open to different ways of teaching and learning how to help each student will help them feel not only understood but hopefully make them want to be there and actively participate in their education. Another way we can do this is by getting to know who students are when they leave our classroom. Doing this helps them feel welcome as they are in the classroom and creates a safe space. I also believe that showing mutual respect for your students’ needs and emotions helps them feel safe in your classroom. Children’s emotions often get brushed off by adults, but we must recognize the reason behind these emotions and work to understand our students. One quote from our group discussions that resonated with me was, “You get kids where they are, not where you want them to be.” To create a community in our classrooms we must understand that every child has their own story. It’s our job to reach out and get to know who they are so that we can help them receive the most out of their education.