Teaching the U.N.

I have an extremely interesting group of students in my homeroom this half of the year. Both classes are great and wonderfully small. The group I have now is more chatty but they’re all sweet kids. The fun thing about this group is about a third of them are not Canadian born or are 1st generation Canadians. This makes for a very interesting teaching situation.

For one, many of them don’t speak English as their first language and of course neither do their parents. For some, this is an advantage. Once you learn one language, adding another on becomes easier. For a few though this isn’t true. It’s hard when a student is struggling to learn two languages at once and mastering neither.

It’ also creates some interesting cultural dynamics. I love the fact that I have Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Christian students in my class and they get along pretty well, well… they get a long as well as most grade 5 students do. But I never hear any racist or anti-semitist or anti-muslim or anything from them. They mostly just care about who made the most goals in soccer.

That’s one thing that definitely brings them all together; their love of soccer. They’re a little obsessed to tell the truth but I’ve used it to my advantage to get conversations going in French. Today they really wanted to go out so I told them I would take them out but first I got them to tell me phrases they use in soccer and I told them how to say them in French so they were running around the field yelling “Passer la balle” and “Arrêter” and of course “BUUUUUUUUT!” It was pretty cute.

I also tried to get them to include the girls more in their game but that was less successful. The problem is the boys live, eat and breath soccer. Some of the girls want to play but they aren’t as skilled because they don’t play it constantly so when they do decide to join, the boys start out with good intentions to include them but then they get competitive and the girls end up feeling left out and wandering listlessly around the field.

Which brings me to one downfall to my culturally diverse classroom is there is more sexism than I would expect from this age group. I hear things like “girls can’t…” or “I don’t want to sit with her, she’s a girl” way too often. It is fairly normal to have that sort of thing happen to some extent but I just notice it more with this group. Doesn’t help that I have 13 boys, quite a few of whom are outspoken, versus my 7 mostly quiet girls. It’s a fun dynamic. I’m going to miss them next year for sure.

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