First Steps for Reaching and Teaching Diverse Populations: The Classroom Ecosystem and Transactional Literary Theory
Diversity poses challenges for students, teachers, staff developers, administrators, and organizations—however, there are no formulas for teaching and working with the diverse populations who grace our classrooms and work places. Each culture and context is unique. This is the premise of this presentation and paper. In order for all students to achieve success in the classroom and outside of the classroom, educators need to see, understand, and tap into the complexity of their own classroom and school cultures. To do so, a deeper understanding of diversity is necessary. The presenter/paper proposes that the classroom as ecosystem model deepens understanding of diversity and provides a foundation for reaching and teaching diverse populations. The presenter will share her rendition of the conceptual framework of the classroom as ecosystem, a model which provides educators in all phases of their careers with both a theoretical foundation — and a practical lens with which to view diverse classrooms and communities. She will include a brief discussion of the ecological, educational, socio-cultural, and anthropological theories that inform the classroom ecosystem model. In addition to sharing the model and underlying theory, the presenter will share a graphic of the classroom as ecosystem, and then invite attendees to participate in activities based on Louise Rosenblatt’s transactional literary theory/reader response — a theory which is a natural fit for the diverse classroom. The activities may be used in the classroom or the boardroom to further understanding of the nature of diversity and to build community. Attendees will be invited to react and discuss throughout this session.
Keywords: Diversity, Diversity in the Classroom, Classroom Ecosystem, Culture, Community, Ecosystem, Importance of Building Community, Transactional Literary Theory, Reader Response, Practical Strategies for Building Community in Diverse Populations
Dr. Mary Bellucci Buckelew
Associate Professor of English, Education & English Departments, West Chester University