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Posted on April 18, 2013 11:22 pm
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Reps: 6
Culture Shock
Mr. Beezley has been an elementary school teacher for many years, but teaching school in a small agricultural town in northwestern New Mexico is a new experience for him. Although he’s been in town since early July, he hasn’t attended any of the social events-the chili suppers, the donkey basketball game, the fall festival organized by the high school students-in the local community. By
September, he’s developed a reputation as a cold and arrogant Easterner.

Little does the community realize that Mr. Beezley is feeling quite overwhelmed in his new teaching position. Most of his students are Navajo children with very different backgrounds than those of his former students back in Massachusetts. He spends his evenings and weekends reading everything he can about Navajo culture, and he spends hours upon hours developing lessons and activities to meet the academic needs of his new students.

The classroom behaviors of Mr. Beezley’s students present an additional challenge. Many of the children seem to have trouble staying in their seats and working independently. Mr. Beezley is quite surprised one day early in the school year when one of the boys in his class gets out of his seat to help another boy with a geography assignment. He approaches the two students to see if they need help, but they continue to talk to each other as if he weren’t even there. He is shocked by their bold behavior. Back in Massachusetts, his presence alone would have been enough to silence any misbehaving students. At a loss for how to respond, he decides to do nothing for the time being.

A few minutes later, two other boys leave their seats to work with classmates. Having had enough of such behavior, Mr. Beezley reprimands them for getting up without permission. The boys are visibly shocked at his behavior, yet Mr. Beezley has never seen children so blatantly disrespectful. He angrily snatches the assignments on which the two students have been collaborating and insists that they
return to their seats.

A few children are obviously quite upset by their teacher’s actions, and so other children go to comfort them. Mr. Beezley can’t believe that anyone has the nerve to get up after all that has happened. The continuing misbehaviors of his students
utterly astonishes him.

“In my classroom, I expect you all to do your own work,” he tells his class firmly. “Why are you all so insistent on doing everyone elses work?” “We always help one another...,” Maria responds. “...Because it’s the right thing to do,” John continues, completing Maria’s thought.
“How can we learn anything...,” says Anna. “If one of us doesn’t understand?” adds Victor.
“Good grief,” Mr. Beezley thinks to himself, “these children answer questions as a collective group. They can’t even talk as individuals!” He is so taken aback by

the fact that his students are rudely interrupting one another that he doesn’t even hear what they are telling him.
Determined to nip the children’s inappropriate behavior in the bud, Mr. Beezley goes to the main office after school to seek the advice of the school principal.
Waiting patiently while the principal finishes a telephone conversation, he suddenly
finds several of his students standing in front of him with their parents.
“Come...,” says one of the parents.
“-and join us for dinner...,” adds another parent.
“...for it will give us a chance...,” continues a third.
“...to get to know one other,” finishes a fourth.

Mr. Beezley is totally confused. Does everyone live in the same house? Or, on the other hand, is he supposed to go to four different homes for dinner in a single evening? That evening, after following the parents’ directions to the nearby Navajo Nation, Mr. Beezley finds himself at the home of one of his students. As he approaches the front door, he hears a great deal of laughter coming from the house.

He expects to find a party inside but discovers that it is merely a gathering of several of his students’ families sitting around a large table. The children’s parents are telling tales from their own childhood, and one often interrupts another to insert additional anecdotes. They welcome Mr. Beezley to sit down, and for the next two hours he is enthralled by their colorful conversation. He discovers many aspects of Navajo culture about which he had been completely unaware-for example, how different families often live very intermingled lives. After dinner, when a neighbor’s truck breaks down, the entire group comes to the man’s aid. Two parents go to town for the necessary parts, and on their return, the entire group works to repair the engine. Several people hold lights while others work under the hood and still others stand by to give advice.

By this time, Mr. Beezley feels comfortable enough that he is laughing and joking with the others. But he realizes that he still has a great deal to learn about the Navajo culture. He suspects that he’ll learn as much from his new students as they are likely to learn from him in the days to come.

NOTE: Mr. Beezley spent many hours at the Navajo Nation after that, and he was always greeted affectionately when he arrived. He was frequently invited to join the Nation’s sacred rituals, and he eventually became an honorary member of the community.

Reflection Questions:

1. In Navajo Culture, aan older child may often assist a younger child with a new task. The benefits of such assistance are most easily explained using ___________ view of cognitive development.
a. Piaget’s b. Vygotsky’s c. Behaviorists d. Information processing theorists

2. Should Mr. Beezley change his expectations for students’ classroom behavior in his new teaching situation? Why or why not?

3. In general, to what extent is it appropriate for teachers to adjust their expectations and teaching practices to the cultural backgrounds of their students?

4. Describe at least two different strategies Mr. Beezley might use that would be compatible with the children’s cultural background.

5. Identify at least two different ways in which Mr. Beezley might assess his students’ learning in a manner consistent with their culture.

6. Might there be occasions in which Mr. Beezley should insist that his students work independently?

7. Mr. Beezley has difficulty making sense of the dinner invitation from his students’ parents. Explain his difficulty using the notion of knowledge construction.

8. Beginning teachers are often so busy preparing their daily lessons and familiarizing themselves with school procedures that they lose sight of the larger community within which they work As a new teacher, how might you get to know something about the culture or cultures in which your students have been raised?
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Solution 1
Posted April 20, 2013 2:27 pm

Ashley Dellane
Ashley Dellane
Reps: 75
Mr. Beezley should change his expectations for student's classroom behavior. The students he is teaching are from a different culture, and their behavior is part of their culture. Mr. Beezley should understand that every class he teaches is going to be different, and the expectations are going to be different. It is important to adapt your expectations to better fit the students you are teaching. Also, since the behavior these students are exhibiting is part of their culture, Mr. Beezley needs to be respectful and adapt his classroom management around the culture.
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Solution 2
Posted March 14, 2015 11:48 pm

Kristin Doyon
Kristin Doyon
Reps: 108
Mr. Beezley could complete research in order to get a basic understanding of the culture. He could also attend community and school events. In addition, Mr. Beezley could have the students complete their own research where they compare the historical/cultural information about their heritage to their actual lives. Students could interview their own family members and present their findings. Mr. Beezley could do this project alongside his students, and he could share his own presentation with the class. Mr. Beezley and his students will have a more open dialogue about their cultural differences, and they can celebrate those differences together. He will have a much deeper bond with his students through this project.
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Solution 3
Posted March 9, 2015 4:28 pm

Reps: 100
Possible Solution: Even though Mr. Beezley is studying about the culture, it is important for him to have first hand experiences, such as attending school events to obtain a better understanding. This will not only show the students that he cares about them outside the classroom but will also improve his relationships with the students. Seeing that the students intentions were good, he clearly needs to make his classroom expectations more clear and make sure that he is consistent in following through with them. Punishing the students for something they feel they were doing the right, can make students more prone to not be as "active" in class.
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Solution 4
Posted November 27, 2018 12:25 am

Reps: 200
Although Mr. Beezley reads about the Navajo culture, he needs to spend more time immersing himself in it to truly understand and recognize their individual needs. This will be vastly different from his classroom in Massachusetts but he is teaching a different group of students with different needs of classroom management. His same tactics will no longer work and if he wants to be a successful teacher for his students he needs to adapt their culture into his management plan.
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Solution 5
Posted October 3, 2016 8:20 pm

Reps: 203
Wow this was awesome to read
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