Diversity of all types – race, ethnicity, national origin and economic status, family structure and gender identity, sexual orientation and disability status, religion or native language – benefits all students. Diversity is not a nicety but a necessity.
In honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, these educators share their personal stories in their own words:
Celebrating Our Heritage & Student Diversity
My name is Alfonso Treto and I am a first generation Mexican-American and public school teacher. Coming to the United States, my parents had to struggle for the American dream. My mother emphasized the importance of an education. I was raised with the idea that a proper education would create many opportunities for me.
I can say that teaching is a profession that chose me. As a teacher’s assistant, I witnessed students being treated differently which motivated me to become a teacher and provide an opportunity to all students regardless of their background. Many of the students see me as a role model because of the similarities of upbringing.
Working for M-DCPS Title I Migrant Education Program I have had the privilege of serving families from very diverse backgrounds. Recently there has been an influx of unaccompanied minors who have made a treacherous journey by themselves as well as escaping violence and seeking protection in search of a better life. Some students are fearful of what is going on politically however they have learned to respect and celebrate their differences. All students know that with determination (ganas) they can overcome any obstacle.
Alfonso Treto teaches high school students in the Title I Migrant Education Program in Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Miami, Florida.
Just Yearning to Exhale, If Not to Breathe Free
Recruited on two occasions by Philippine-based agencies to fill teacher labor shortages, first in Texas and later in Maryland, Rogie has now taught in American schools for a combined total of 20 years.
His initial immigration attempt turned out to be a human trafficking scheme by the agency that first recruited him.
While waiting to exhale from the protracted immigration process, he leveraged his awful experience in his work with a multi-stakeholder council to co-author “The Code for the Ethical International Recruitment and Employment of Teachers,” a document that guides best practices for the recruitment and employment of immigrant teachers.
Every day, he encourages his students to pledge allegiance to the American flag, even while he is unable to do the same as a temporary worker. His students (and his American-born children) ask “why do you make us pledge but you don’t do it yourself?”
After so many years of accomplished teaching, while struggling tirelessly as an immigrant teacher advocate, he hopes that someday all immigrant teachers who choose to may be able to proudly join their students in the pledge as well. Then perhaps, they could all dare to stop just yearning to exhale, but breathe free indeed.
Rogie Legaspi teaches 7th grade Life Science at Hamilton Elementary/Middle School in the Baltimore Public School System in Baltimore, Maryland.
Determined to Make a Difference in the Lives of My Students
Life experiences molds individuals, and because of experiences I have persevered through in my journey from Mexico to the United States, I know that everyone has the raw potential to succeed. After multiple years of working in various public schools, serving at-need, at-risk student populations, including migrant and diverse students, I feel an urgency and commitment to address the needs of my students and their families. I work continually to strengthen my skills to address these obstacles. I also work on strengthening these skills in other teachers. Creating educational equitable opportunities for every child in our society it is a moral imperative for social cohesion and a strong democracy.
As a teacher that immigrated to this country I feel an extremely important responsibility to serve as an example for my students of what is possible when you are determined and work hard. In America if you work hard along with your community to create opportunities for all, you get ahead and it makes no difference where are you coming from. We, the immigrants that made this country our home feel proud to say that this can only happen in America.
Remigio Willman is a 3rd grade teacher at Askew Elementary School in the Houston Independent School District in Houston, Texas.
Learning to Live without Fear
I was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. I was nine years old when my father passed away and my family had to migrate to the United States. I missed my grandma, I missed my language, my culture. My mother would comfort us by saying we would go back to Mexico in a few months. However, I soon entered fourth grade.
In middle school, I remember seeing my mother work two jobs, coming home late at night and struggling to raise four children on her own. I knew one day I wanted to repay her sacrifice and everything she was doing for us. My dream was to become a professional; I knew I wanted to be a teacher and help others with the same struggles.
On June 15, 2012, I again became hopeful when President Barack Obama announced his executive order that allowed me to begin working at my dream school. As a DACAmented 1st grade bilingual teacher serving my community I’m heartbroken that the Supreme Court failed me, my students, and over 720,000 other DACAmented individuals that are proving President Obamas’s executive action work. I worry for my students and community, I’m not giving up, this is just a set-back.
Maria Dominguez is a 1st grade teacher at Rodriguez Elementary School in the Austin Independent School District in Austin, Texas.
I have always enjoyed the “Spy vs. Spy” section of Mad Magazine. If you are not familiar with it check out this animated version. In the wordless comic strip two spies battle it out against each other. The spies are identical except for one is dressed in black and the other in white. The comic strip is entertaining because every time one spy is confident that he has foiled the plans of the other spy some new technique or technology will be introduced to reverse the outcome.Technology Can Enable Learning (and Cheating Too)
Those of us in the industry of exam proctoring can identify with this. Just when we get good at preventing cheating with one strategy, the students come up with another strategy. Once it was sufficient to not allow students to have their cell phones with them during testing. But now there are various forms of wearable technology that can be used to cheat. Sometimes it seems that even our best efforts only serve to keep the honest students honest. When a student is intent on cheating, they often seem to find a new way.
Just as technology can be a great tool for learning, it can be an effective tool for cheating as well. Some of the ways that students have indicated that they cheat include texting answers to other students during an exam, snapping pictures of an exam using their phone, using their phone to search the Internet for answers during an exam, purchasing term papers online, and creating fake test scores or letters of recommendation for college admission.Many Students Admit to Cheating
The Josephson Institute on Ethics surveyed 23,000 American high school and college students about their frequency and perception of cheating. More than half (51%) admitted to cheating on an exam one or more times in the past academic year. Students were asked if they agreed with this statement, “In the real world, successful people do what they have to do to win, even if others consider it cheating.” Fifty-seven percent of students agreed.
When asked by the Josephson Institute why they cheat, the leading responses included – peer pressure, to help a friend, the gains outweigh the penalties, low chances of being caught, pressure from expectations, and not enough time to prepare. As we prepare learners to be competent professionals in their careers, one very important aspect is to instill in them a mindset of integrity. To foster this culture of integrity, schools are using services that authenticate learner identity and monitor student performance during examinations.Survey on Test Proctoring Perceptions
To contribute to the body of knowledge about academic integrity SmarterServices administers the Annual Proctoring & Learner Authentication Survey. The purpose of the survey is to collect data about good practices and perceptions using learner authentication and testing integrity services. While the Josephson Institute survey and others have focused on the event of cheating, this survey focuses on efforts to monitor student behavior in an effort to discourage cheating.
Responses were received from 365 persons representing the following stakeholder groups: Faculty (21%), Learners (15%), School Administrators (20%), Proctors (12%) and Test Center Administrators (32%).
The following findings from the survey are relevant to current practice:
- The four most common proctoring modalities reported by faculty and school administrators are an approved human proctor (HR Director, School Principal, Librarian, Notary, etc.), local test centers, instructor as proctor, and live-virtual proctoring.
- Faculty are most satisfied when they proctor their own exams or use a corporate testing center, and faculty reported the lowest level of satisfaction with automated virtual proctoring.
- Faculty perceived an instructor proctored exam as being the strongest psychological deterrent to cheating and virtual proctoring as the weakest.
- The proctoring modality which students perceived to be the strongest form of psychological deterrent was an approved human proctor. Automated, virtual proctoring was perceived as the weakest form of psychological deterrent. It is not surprising that students reported that their preferred proctoring modality was automated virtual proctoring. Students also reported that the proctoring modality in which it would be the most difficult to cheat is instructor as proctor.
- Students rated comfort and convenience as much stronger factors in their decision about a proctoring modality than cost.
Complete survey results are available on our website.How Can We Foster Academic Integrity?
So what can be done to foster a culture that promotes academic integrity? I have had several conversations recently with faculty and proctors about the matter. Here are some actionable suggestions from those conversations:
CURRENT TECHNOLOGY – Rest assured that students will take advantage of the latest technology in their efforts to cheat. Faculty and proctors must stay informed about emerging technologies and their impact on testing integrity.
HONOR CODE – Each educational institution which measures mastery through assessment should issue an honor code to their students so that the students understand the expectations relative to academic integrity. One of the most common excuses that students make when confronted with a testing integrity violation is that “no one told me that doing this was wrong.” Students must understand how they should act with honor and integrity as well as the rules of what is and is not allowed. A part of the honor code should be the ramifications and punishments for violations.
INTEGRITY TRAINING – Students have differing perceptions about which behaviors are acceptable. A training program should affirm and encourage those actions which are honorable and inform students about the actions that are not honorable and the ramifications both professionally and academically. Orientation courses or new student experiences are great places for such training. Some faculty members have students sign an integrity statement as an early assignment in their course.
FACULTY INVOLVEMENT – When a faculty member is actively engaged in a course then the student is more likely to feel that cheating is a violation of that relationship. When an online course is taught in a fully automated fashion then the human element is removed and the student may feel that that they are not letting any particular person down if they cheat.
MULTI-MODAL APPROACH – Just like the spies, when students take all of their exams in the same context, they will begin to notice weaknesses and attempt to exploit them. It is a good practice for a school to provide several modalities of proctoring and not allow students to do all of their testing with one modality. Examples of testing modalities include – instructor as proctor, testing in a testing center, testing with an approved proctoring professional (I.e. a human resources officer in a corporation), automated-virtual proctoring, and live-virtual proctoring. Tools such as SmarterProctoring.com facilitate the work flow management in a multi-modal environment.
If you have ideas, war stories or success stories about fostering a climate of academic integrity, I would like to hear from you.
Dr. Mac Adkins
CEO and Founder
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