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Teacher Cadets teach self-concept through multicultural Cinderella stories

The Teacher Cadets at Forest Hills have been learning about self-concept and how teachers have such a strong influence on it. We read different children's books about self-concept and discussed how they can affect children’s ideas about their self-esteem. These books were from all different cultures and and showed different values. We then divided into groups and went and shared what we learned through these books with two English III classrooms. This helped us practice our teaching skills as we prepare to enter other classrooms for our upcoming clinicals.

Self-concept is what makes us who we are. We tend to think about ourselves the way other people think about us. A student's whole day can be changed because of a teacher, and that’s important for a teacher to know. If a teacher tells a kid over and over that they believe in them and that they are smart, they will start to believe it and most likely perform better. A teacher plays a great role in a student's developing self-concept and it often is the result not of the teacher’s curriculum or lesson, but rather of the words they use, his or her tone of voice, and general body language.

We read through different styles of children's books, and they all built up children’s self esteem. Whether the book was about animals playing at a park or a child experiencing an issue with his or her diversity, the goal of each book was to give children self confidence. We focused in on different cultures’ versions of the classic children’s book, Cinderella. In each version, the girl was always mistreated in the beginning, then goes through some major transformation, and some sort of prince or powerful man saves her in the end. As a class, we reflected on our initial ideas about how we think, how this is a lovely theme of no matter who you are, you can be something great in the end.  However, we quickly realized that there’s more to these stories than just the surface level story. It can tell a little girl that she needs a man in her life in order to have a “Happily Ever After,” or that she has to have long silky hair and perfect skin in order to be considered beautiful. This shows us that we have to be aware of who our audience is and how we present it to children.

To complete this study, we divided into two teaching teams and went and read two different versions of the Cinderella story, one Chinese, Yeh-Shen, and one Native American, Soot Face, to two different English III classes. We shared with them what other cultures value and how they see the story varied from the traditional European Cinderella. Each team led its respective class in a compare/contrast chart between their prior knowledge of the classical Cinderella and the two multicultural versions. As we concluded our lesson, we also asked them for feedback on how we could take this back to the elementary classroom and use it as a tool for self empowerment.

Altogether, we learned how important a teacher's role is when it comes to their influence over self-esteem in their students’ lives. Self concept is what defines us, and teachers have great power to influence, so they should use their power carefully. These books helped shed some light on different cultures and societies, and we learned how to integrate them into different classroom settings. Teacher Cadet has had a super productive start to the year, and each of us can’t wait to see what else is in store for us as we prepare to be the educators of tomorrow.

Written by: Kristina Whitley, FHHS Teacher Cadet I Student/FTA Vice-President
Posted: Sep 16, 2015 by Melissa Howell

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