In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire allows the reader to reflect on the instruction that takes place in educational settings. He argues that when teachers view education as a banking system in which they are responsible for “depositing” knowledge into the empty vehicle that is a student, pupils become marginalized. That is, a student that is not a co-creator of his/her/their own learning, in the end, is denied the opportunity to fully reach self-actualization. The idea that students must actively engage with and drive their own learning, inspired by the work of Freire, is the foundation for the C6 Biliteracy Framework and specifically, the Collaborate component.
In the several articles written for www.duallanguageschools.org in the last 3 months, I have described the C6 Biliteracy Framework in general, and specifically, the first and second components: Create and Connect.
In this article, we will move on to the third C – Collaborate.
Collaborate with students as a facilitator of instruction, rather than as a depositor of information.
- Culturally responsive pedagogy
- Differentiated instruction
- Higher level thinking (to include higher level questioning)
Whether you serve in an elementary or secondary classroom, ask yourself:
- Who really is the owner of the learning?
- Are students able to explain in detail the content and language objectives they are working on?
- Is the environmental print co-created by the students and do they actively interact with the displayed anchor charts?
- Does student choice drive the creation of student outcomes and artifacts?
- Am I a facilitator of instruction or am I a depositor of information?
Don’t fret. As you reflect, understand that much of the what happens in U.S. classrooms was created with the idea that students had to, in fact, be empty vessels that were to be filled with information that would allow them to be successful in schools and thus, life.
Part of what we must tackle is the fact that this type of ideology, at times, ignored what students brought into the classroom, in terms of their home language, culture, and social norms. Instead, a monolingual, White, and middle-class way of life made its way into the school building and became the lens through which instruction was delivered. The C6 Biliteracy Framework lesson planning cycle does away with this idea and, instead, places the learning in the hands of both teacher and student—as equal partners.
Culturally responsive teaching allows the facilitator in the classroom, regardless of the language of instruction, to leverage how students learn naturally and use all cultural and linguistic resources to ensure student ownership. Hammond (2015) informs us that culturally responsive pedagogy is less about using racial pride as a motivator, and instead, accessing the strategies, learning protocols, and educational beliefs used in the students’ lives, as a means to connect with academic content. Thus, to truly become collaborators with students, we must expand our ideas about teacher/student classroom interactions and embrace the way in which the students we serve learn.
As I reflect on my own experience as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and district leader, I yearn for the opportunity to go back and serve directly in a school building on a daily basis, once again. I feel like I was a strong teacher who allowed students the opportunity to engage with their learning regularly, as they made connections to their own world. However, I lacked the undertstanding at that time, that the way I viewed the classroom in general, could have been more inclusive of the ways that students accessed information and contextualized it to make it fully their own.
Lesson planning through the C6 Biliteracy Framework cycle allows us, as educators specifically serving in dual language settings, to release some of the authority in the classroom and instead, lesson plan through a culturally responsive lens that focuses on differentiation that is appropriate and that allows students to demonstrate in authentic ways the methods by which they critically think, also. We must facilitate rather than deposit. Only then does the classroom environment becomes a place for and by the students!