What is Multicultural Education?

This summer, I will be posting a series of blogs about multicultural education and what that means for my context as well as my role and responsibility as an educator. The term multicultural education is fluid in that the meaning alters as it serves the purpose of various organizations, districts, schools, and classrooms. The definition is also organic in that as our society becomes increasingly and deeply connected in a global way, policy makers, educators, and the like seek to determine what multicultural means within the context of time. As such, I begin my quest to define multicultural education in this point in time within the context of my role as a doctoral student and classroom teacher.

Below are the definitions of multicultural education from a variety of resources:

Multicultural education is a philosophical concept built on the ideals of freedom, justice, equality, equity, and human dignity as acknowledged in various documents, such as the U.S. Declaration of Independence, constitutions of South Africa and the United States, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations. It affirms our need to prepare students for their responsibilities in an interdependent world. It recognizes the role schools can play in developing the attitudes and values necessary for a democratic society. It values cultural differences and affirms the pluralism that students, their communities, and teachers reflect. It challenges all forms of discrimination in schools and society through the promotion of democratic principles of social justice” (The National Association for Multicultural Education, 2018).

Multicultural education is set of strategies and materials in education that were developed to assist teachers when responding to the many issues created by the rapidly changing demographics of their students. It provides students with knowledge about the histories, cultures, and contributions of diverse groups; it assumes that the future society is pluralistic. It draws on insights from a number of different fields, including ethnic studies and women studies, but also reinterprets content from related academic disciplines. Multicultural education, also viewed as a way of teaching, promotes principles such as inclusion, diversity, democracy, skill acquisition, inquiry, critical thought, value of perspectives, and self-reflection” (Wikipedia, 2018).

“Most common understanding of multicultural education is that it consists largely of additive content rather than a set of structural changes in content and process…it has often been interpreted in either a simplistic or a monolithic way” (Nieto, 2008, p. 18).

“Most multicultural education theorists [refer multicultural education] to mean an education that is designed to help all students, including White mainstream students, to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to function effectively in a diverse society or nation-state” (Banks, 2016, p. 71).


Banks, J. A. (2016). Cultural diversity and education: Foundations, curriculum, and teaching (6th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Nieto, S. (2008). Affirmation, solidarity and critique: Moving beyond tolerance in education. In E. Lee, D. Menkart, & M. Okazawa-Rey (Eds.), Beyond heroes and holidays (pp. 18-29). Washington, DC: Teaching for Change.

The National Association for Multicultural Education. (2018). Definitions of multicultural education. Retrieved from The National Association for Multicultural Education website: https://www.nameorg.org/definitions_of_multicultural_e.php

Wikipedia. (2018). Multicultural education. Retrieved from Wikipedia website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multicultural_education


Thanks for the Good Times

Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 6.14.12 PMI found out last Tuesday (May 29) that TodaysMeet was officially closing their doors on June 16th. In reading the blog post by James Socol, I was surprised to find that this awesome platform for participant engagement was essentially a one-man-show. Wow.

And what a show it was. I first started using TodaysMeet back in 2014 for the professional development sessions I hosted for my district (see image). Seeing first hand, how this tool worked with adults and how a backchannel helped to facilitate conversation, I decided to bring this into my middle school classroom.

Talk about super cool.

My district blocks Twitter so I sold this tool as a Twitteresque platform for my students (and colleagues). It was all about real-time, concise statements about their thoughts. Sometimes I had students reflect on their readings; other times I used it as a way to give all students a voice when viewing video clips about historical events. To make it more relevant to the lingo of my students, I typically ended our TodaysMeet sessions with a prompt asking students to sum up their thoughts using two hashtags. It was a fun way to get a quick glimpse into their reflections in only 140 characters.

I was hooked.

In fact, I was so hooked that I even purchased a subscription for Teacher Tools.

Even with the plethora of new technology tools coming out, TodaysMeet remained a classroom staple. In fact, I recently introduced it to my student teacher (who LOVED it) only to find out that she can only use it until June 16th. Bummer. Sorry, Lauren (@Ms_ltnle)

Without a doubt, there are many technology tools that come and go, but TodaysMeet was special. It was easy. It was quick. And better yet, it was free. I will miss TodaysMeet as a backchannel option for PD, but more importantly I will miss TodaysMeet as a classroom staple for my middle schoolers. #sigh

Good-bye old friend. Thank you, James Socol (@jamessocol). You created a useful kid- and adult-friendly product that more than served its purpose.

Round 23

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 5.27.29 PM.pngJust three days ago, I started my 23rd year as a middle school history teacher. When people ask me what I do…my answer typically transforms their faces into a look of horror or sympathy. They then lament about how horrible middle school was for them and that they gave their teachers a run for their money…to which I reply that I love teaching middle schoolers and I can’t imagine doing anything different. And this year is no different.

As the hopeful, shiny, scared, and baby-faced students timidly walked through my doors this past Wednesday, I greeted them with a huge smile knowing that we are about to embark on a fantastic journey through the middle ages…or as I like to call it, “The Study of Super Dead People.”

Middle schoolers get my humor. And to a large extent I get theirs. And all I know is that these kids are awesome. The world hasn’t beaten them down yet…they still harbor elements of creativity and outlandish ideas…and they are still very much innocent. Even the horrors of current events don’t quite shatter their belief that if people could just get along that everything would be fine.

As I reflect on my first three days with my kiddoes, I’m feeling grateful for the opportunity to be their teacher. My goal this year is to encourage creativity and inquisition. And I’m looking forward to what they will teach me in the end.

Why I Love Summer…

First off, I love summer because it gives me a chance to rest, recharge, and basically get caught up on everything that I couldn’t get done during the school year. Second, summer is all about relaxing…napping, sleeping in…going to bed because I want to and not because I have to get up at 5:30 AM. Third, summer is about family and enjoying the little things. I’m lucky in that I get to spend the summer far away from home at our second home in a quaint little town located on Lake Michigan.

This summer has been different than others in that it’s not necessarily all about relaxing…it’s also about research, and learning, and writing, and revising, and reading, and more research. I hope my family doesn’t feel sorry for me when I have to read studies, research articles, write, and then rewrite my drafts. Because I love it. I love learning…and I can’t complain about the view. If I’m not in the kitchen looking at the East Bay, I’m on the deck looking at the East Bay, on the porch at our “farmhouse” (I’m using that term VERY loosely) overlooking West Bay, or as I right now, looking into the woods behind the house. Sometimes if I’m lucky a beautiful bright red cardinal will keep me company.

I’m taking a break from researching, reading, and writing to enjoy this moment because I’m thankful for everything that I have. The road hasn’t been easy, but even when I’ve had to traverse the gravel or unpaved path, cross rickety bridges, or leap from rock to rock over a madly rushing stream, life has been good to me. And I love that I get to work with children for the better part of the year, and I love even more that I get to learn along side of peers in this doctoral program. There are only two more weeks before Residency…and there is still much to do, but I’m excited. I’m excited that I am surrounded by nature while pursuing one of my passions–learning. I’m excited that I have the drafts of two assignments already done with still one more week before they are due. I’m excited that my Year 1 paper is coming along nicely and I’m excited that I finished the draft for my poster session presentation at Residency. I’m excited about the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights tonight (yay!). But most all, I’m excited (and super thankful) that I have the summers off so that I can enjoy being a “full-time” doctoral student yet still have time for a good book and a nap (both of which I plan to enjoy after I publish this post).

I’m excited that I am surrounded by nature while pursuing one of my passions–learning. I’m excited that I have the drafts of two assignments already done with still one more week before they are due. I’m excited that my Year 1 paper is coming along nicely. I’m excited that I finished the draft for my poster session presentation at Residency. I’m excited about the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights tonight (yay!). But most all, I’m excited (and super thankful) that I have the summers off so that I can enjoy being a “full-time” doctoral student yet still have time for a good book and a nap (both of which I plan to enjoy after I publish this post).

Whether you have summers off or not, I hope you find time to enjoy the little things because it’s most certainly the little things that count.

“You Should Probably Write This Down”

These were the words from one of my 7th graders as we worked through the steps for how to use Aurasma…

I was hoping that at least one of my students would have experience with Aurasma since they use VR at home but no…we’re all collectively newbies. Noobs. I muddled my way through explaining how to use Aurasma to my morning classes…but it wasn’t until after school when I got the chance to work one on one with a student that it clicked…for the two us. And that’s when she told me, “You should probably write this down…”

She knows me so well.

That was two days ago…and today as I write this blog, I’m watching my students create their first Aurasma project. Students were given the option to use Tellagami, iMovie, or Snapchat for the overlay. They were also given the option to work with a partner. I’m a firm believer in student choice…and in this project there is an abundance of it. But what there’s another abundance of is student engagement. I mean every student has their nose to the grindstone. They are communicating, collaborating, troubleshooting…all on their own. It’s a proud moment for me because when it comes down to it…it’s really all about them. Not me. Not teacher-directed, but student-centered…student-created.

I can’t wait to see their final projects! #soexcited

Always Room for Improvement

As this semester comes to a close, I do what I normally do which is take time to reflect on how I can make the learning process for my students more engaging and meaningful. Though I like predictability and routine, it doesn’t work so well for me in the classroom since I teach the same thing all day long. So when it comes to a new semester with new students, this is when I like to shake things up a bit.

What I liked from this past semester:

  • Using Flipboard a public platform for sharing student work
  • Using Recap as another means to check for understanding while also helping students to practice speaking skills
  • Finding readable primary source materials for The Crusades and then having students turn those into #booksnaps

What I need to work on or change for next semester:

  • Put together a reading schedule for students to ensure that all of the required readings are covered earlier in the unit
  • Create more opportunities for writing
  • Give students more opportunities for mastery learning

Most of these changes will not require a lot of work, but rather revising or tweaking current instructional practices. Though I believe I offer many opportunities for student-centered learning, I could…I must…I will do better.


Make it Better Moment #30daysofblogging

frogI know there are proponents out there who insist that a due date is a due date…no ifs, ands, or buts. And I understand that because, at the end of a quarter, I have to submit grades. There isn’t a way to push back the due date for final grade submission. But for all of those other times…when I can…I give students a Make it Better Moment.

If it’s not the end of the quarter, I believe that it’s important to give students the opportunity to submit late work and/or to fix their work if it is incomplete. Is it more work for me? Of course. But when it comes to students…children, in my case, I think a little leeway is warranted…and in some cases, welcomed.

Let’s face it. Students today have a busier life than we did. I know for a fact that for my middle schoolers, after school gets out some of them have to pick up little brothers and sisters from elementary school, others have to make dinner for their family, a few more have to babysit siblings until their parents get home…and then there are those who have to do a bit of all three. And that’s on top of perhaps, playing sports, going to tutoring, and finishing up any work that didn’t get done in class. So yeah, their life is busy. So I understand when their assignments don’t always get done on time.

Just so we’re clear, I give time to complete most of these assignments in class. But not all students work at the same speed. Some students are more methodical, others have a difficult time staying focused, and then there are those who just work at a slower pace than what the pacing guide allows. So I try to be flexible…to accommodate for their needs…because my job is not to penalize students. It’s to help them learn…to guide them…to encourage them in this learning journey.

So we have Make it Better Moments.

These Make it Better Moments is what puts the onus of learning back on the students, again. Sure, they were given this task earlier (with the original due date)…but sometimes students just need another shot at showing their best work.

Today is one of those days. And though I have a bit more to grade…I feel much better knowing that I gave my students another shot at showing their learning. I can’t control much in my life, but I can control the learning opportunities that students have in my class (well…fire drills, assemblies, etc. notwithstanding).