Classroom Management

To begin this proposal, we first will explore the research topic; after a great deal of research and consideration, it was decided that the research topic will be cultural diversity, which goes right to the core of social justice concerns within the classroom. There are several critical reasons why this topic was chosen; they will now be identified and explained in more detail.

First, the overall mindset which led to the choice of cultural diversity as a research topic is the belief of the researcher that many of the problems plaguing the world, as well as our country, state, and community, is a lack of understanding among an ever increasing diverse population. In other words, because of the dynamic nature of the world economy, communication methods, transportation and the like, people who grew up with varied values, traditions, religions, languages, customs, styles of dress, choices of food and other variables now find themselves merged in many situations, such as the classroom setting, where they are expected to understand each other, respect one another, and embrace the background of others without much of an understanding of the divergent cultures that exist within that classroom. Many times, this unfamiliarity leads to misunderstanding of other cultures and belief systems, causing misperceptions, confusion, jealousy/hatred, and ultimately, prejudice. This prejudice is the underpinning of much of the global disputes that have arisen in the modern world, including widespread terrorism. This clearly shows the validity of the choice of cultural diversity as the topic of this research. Beyond the significance of cultural diversity as a research topic, it is also key to discuss how cultural diversity relates to the issues of social justice.

Discussing the relationship between the chosen research topic, cultural diversity and social justice necessitates a definition of what is referred to as social justice within this paper. For the purposes of this paper, social justice will be casually defined as a set of values, principles and laws that ensure that people of different cultures, races, religions and ethnic backgrounds are permitted to harmoniously live together and contribute to the building of an effectively functioning society. In other words, as in our Pledge of Allegiance, “with liberty and justice for all”. In defining social justice, an interesting quote, whose creator’s name has been lost to history, very succinctly expresses the concept of social justice within society as follows:

“Society should treat all equally well who have deserved equally well of it, and the efforts of all virtuous citizens, should be made in the utmost degree to converge”.

This simple quote embodies many important concepts which the researcher would like to emphasize within the research and subsequent curricula. First, “treat all equally well who have deserved equally well” is important. Equality must be a key ingredient of cultural diversity. Virtue, though often intangible, should be exemplified within good conduct and respect for others. Convergence, or more precisely, unity, is also vital if cultures are to understand one another and live together harmoniously. A great deal of tolerance, empathy and cooperation must be integrated into the teaching of cultural diversity if it is to be effective at all.

Lastly, in regard to the explanation and significance of this topic, the significance is undeniable with one important distinction- the curricula must be properly taught, within the guidelines identified above. Beyond principle, the actual practice of cultural diversity must exist within the coursework, which will be reinforced in later portions of this paper. By reaching impressionable young minds with the right blend of principle and practice, these lessons will take root and bloom for many generations to come.

Research Questions
It is critically important to utilize effective, open ended research questions so that the social justice concern within the cultural diversity lessons can be clearly expressed. Based upon this, these three open ended questions should be most effective:

1. What do you think makes people different from each other? The logic behind this question is to encourage the students to begin objective thinking about diversity, and ultimately realize that character, not color, for example is a better measure of a person

2. How can we get along better with people from different cultures? Of course, this question would be posed after cultures are discussed and differences are expressed in question one.

3. Why should we try to be friends with people from different cultures? This question builds upon the establishment of differences in question one and how to get along from question two, and will serve as a springboard for meaningful instruction and dialogue.

These three questions will form a strong framework for the effective dissemination of cultural diversity education.

Literature Review
There are countless literature resources that can be employed in investigating the field of cultural diversity within the scope of social justice. Journals and other relevant literature were reviewed in the preparation of this paper, but rather than provide an annotated bibliography that would simply list sources without practical application, we will instead discuss literature within the realm of signposting in order to form a framework for the research. The essential elements of the signpost are as follows:
REFERENCES: There exists within this topic a tremendous amount of references that can, and have been used to provide a smooth blend of research in order to create a research framework. Most interesting were the current journals which give cutting edge research on the topics of social justice and cultural diversity. There is an actual journal entitled “Social Justice” which explores these topics from an academic and cultural point of view which has been very beneficial to the research, and should be used as a primary reference source. In addition, there are an abundance of online resources and others that can, and have been, utilized.

SUBJECT GATEWAYS: The most obvious subject gateway that has emerged thus far is the gateway from the very broad topic of social justice to a more refined topic of cultural diversity, which offers some focus, but is not narrow to the point where effective research and curriculum development would be restrained. As was discussed earlier in this paper, it will be critical for the principle of social justice to be explained and understood before transitioning to the more specific cultural diversity discussion. Beyond principal, once again, we must move into actual practice if the lessons are going to have any tangible and long lasting results. In essence, we are turning talk into action by using subject gateways.

DATA SERVICES: Considering that we are aiming this curriculum at a young group of students, the use of extensive statistics will be ineffective at best and confusing at worst, which is not to say that data services should not be used to obtain meaningful statistical information to further the discussion. Rather, data should be obtained from a reliable data service, interpreted and translated into a format that the youngsters can understand. Effective ways to do this will be explained in subsequent sections of this paper.

LEARNING RESOURCES: So that all of the data, references and other information collected can be synthesized into an intelligible course content, proven methods of classroom instruction and observation must be employed. There are excellent resources available in regard to these techniques, which could and should be employed. At the risk of providing a bibliography within this writing, a recommendation is made that Pennekamp’s Guide to Classroom Observation and Instruction be used as a template and learning resource to ensure effective instruction on the topic. This is the guide that will be used in a subsequent section of this paper as a template for the instruction of the topic as well as student observation. By using this template, we will be able to use an effective, proven teaching method from the outset and use proven observation techniques to ensure that the methods are being properly utilized and the course can be modified if needed based on the observations. This will be especially useful when teaching a subject that requires students to express their opinions, consider the viewpoints of others, and form new opinions as a result. The whole idea of teaching cultural diversity is social interaction, and this interaction can be gauged within the observational element for an objective evaluation of the course content. Again, this will be more thoroughly defined and explained later in this paper, but this explanation is important at this point to start the thought process in terms of observation.

Publications abound on the general topic of social justice, the more specific topic of cultural diversity, and the integration of instructional principles that we are seeking in order to facilitate an effective instruction of these topic for useful communication of the principles, and effective action in regard to practice. More specifically, government publications provide extensive statistics and writings about these topics. This is beneficial from a variety of points of view; first, the publications are usually available free of charge. Second, there is a tremendous savings in time and effort by using already prepared research. Third, the accuracy of this data is virtually guaranteed. Also, the governmental topics embrace the socially relevant topics of the day, such as social issues, diversity, and the education of same. Actually, the U.S. Department of Education can be a huge resource for publications that will illustrate these key concepts and ideas as well as proven methods for instructing in them. It is our feeling that available resources should be used to ensure effectiveness, reduce cost, and required effort. This will allow for maximum “face time”, instructing in the classroom, which is the overall objective anyhow. It cannot be stressed enough that the educational goal is the ultimate goal within this whole process and should be embraced. We shall not lose sight of the main goal of the entire process no matter what.

Discussion of Research Approach
Reinforcing our belief in using established methods for optimum results, we will utilize the Action Research approach. Simply put, this approach facilitates planning, leading to action, observations and reflections. Within that scope, based upon literature review, the elements of Action Research will now be identified and explained in terms of how we will use them:

PLAN: Of course, this entire work outlines the plan that we will use; to summarize what we have covered so far, we will instruct on principles and actual practice within our plan.

ACT: Without action, the best laid plans are fruitless; this is a working plan that will result in immediate action, with the goal of education.

OBSERVE: The instructional process will be observed in order to facilitate improvements to the curriculum; this observation will be explored in greater detail in the next section of this paper. Suffice it to say here that the idea is continuous improvement, which is the overall principle of Action Research itself.

REFLECT: All of the previous elements of Action will be pondered, digested and reflected upon to properly begin the second round of Action Research. This will again allow for the best program to be employed, based on what is observed and what actually takes place.

With thorough use of all of the Action Research elements, a proven approach will be used that will add huge value to everything that is being done. Best practices within process will add quality and accuracy to the entire endeavor and corresponding research.

Report of Reconnasiance
Reconnasiance, or more precisely, observation, will be a key element of this research and subsequent instruction. Being able to evaluate the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the entire process will be facilitated by proper observation techniques and evaluation. Using Pennekamp’s process of observation as identified earlier in this paper, several important objectives will be achieved. First, as the curriculum is being presented, the instructor can observe the retention level of the students, the interaction between student and teacher, the number of questions that are asked and so forth. For example, if many questions are asked that seem obvious, the future course outline can be incorporated that covers many of the questions that are asked. For the student teacher, the entire process can be observed (student to teacher and vice versa) so that effective teaching and learning techniques can be determined and utilized. By observing several different classes of students, and even various teachers, all of the best elements of all of the observations can be dovetailed into one effective process.

An important part of the entire evaluation process is the activity that takes place afterwards. When all of the observations are complete, data compiled, and actions duly noted, everything that has been collected can then be synthesized into an effective set of evaluative criteria for future interactions and the master plan of how a successful student-teacher interaction would unfold can be constructed. Just as the teacher imparts information to the students and encourages creative thinking and the like, the observations of the teacher and the student teacher can be used to ensure that the most effective methods and techniques are put into practice. From that point, these methods and techniques can then be put through the next round of evaluative processes, observations made, data collected, and another critical examination will take place. Subsequently, this round too will be dissected in an identical way.

In summary, a multi-round evaluative process will be the most efficient way to monitor the classroom interaction as well as the actual talents of the teacher in order to learn an effective course content and procedure for teaching. As with any objective process, the application of quality control criteria and continuous improvement will raise the standards and overall value of the program itself. This is especially important when we are discussing the teaching of something like cultural diversity where behavior modification is involved and long term results are desired.
Deliberative Action Plan for First Cycle

With all of the previous mechanisms in place, we will conclude with details of the action that will be taken to change something about the classroom environment or processes during the first cycle. Embracing the evaluative criteria that were endorsed earlier in this paper, the details of the action are as follows:

USE OF OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS: At the beginning of the cycle, the open ended questions presented earlier will be asked of the students to stimulate the thought process. At the conclusion of the unit, these same questions will be asked once again to determine the level of change in thought that has taken place.

OBSERVATION OF BEHAVIORS: Body language, facial expressions and attitude will be monitored throughout the cycle and appropriate action will be taken to make sure that the desired changes are taking place.

DATA COLLECTION: As was detailed before, it will be essential to collect data and record it during the cycle as well. To guarantee that the behaviors are correctly observed, and to allow later contemplation and reflection, video surveillance can be employed so that a permanent record of the actual behaviors exists for individual or group discussion or analysis.

REVISITATION AND REFORMATION: When the cycle is complete, the necessary changes must be made to refine and perfect the process. This can continue in subsequent cycles as well.

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