When thinking of strategies to get students using the new Cultural Centre space that I created within our school, it was evident that on top of working closely with my English Language Learners during the day, a larger gathering purpose was required. In the first week of it’s launch, I had HUGE success with the use of the centre. Students were in at lunch, students were asking me in the hallways for times they could come in the space, and even one day when I was on supervision and had to close the centre early- students were disappointed! All of these things, proved the success of my vision. I knew from the beginning that the way I could measure the centre’s success was how often it was used and my first week proved it was going well.
I did however, find a problem. The centre was speaking to a specific group of students seeking a place and a voice in our school- the new comers to Canada and our school community- and not the rest of the student body. As I thought about ways to engage the rest of the students a very evident answer came my way…
Host a Global Cafe
Now, how this was going to happen and how I would execute it was the next hurdle.
My vision was to hold a lunch hour where all students could come in, share each others culture, talk to each other (like a cafe), and become more culturally aware and interconnected.
As I thought about it more, the requirements for the Cafe were simple:
- I needed to have food, and ‘cafe style’ drinks
- I needed to have activities to students to engage in to become more interconnected.
- I needed to get ALL students aware and comfortable to use the space
- I needed it to be a nice, warm and inviting space
So I did just that, on Friday at lunch I hosted my first Global Cafe.
I went and bought cozy cafe type drinks and snacks to help set the ambiance of my cafe experience as well as to lure students in who may not initially want to come to a global cafe. Keep in mind, I am trying to appeal to students age 11-14… food was key.
I then posted on social media and in the school announcements a plug about coming to the cafe. It was short, brief, to the point, and simple. I would have the 5th and 6th grade classes come at the first half of lunch and the 7th and 8th grade classes come in the second half.
I also had ready to go activities for the kids who attended. I had access to the books and games that I use for language development as well as conversation starter sheets that they could use to get to know each other and learn about their diversity.
The amount of success the Global Cafe had was INCREDIBLE!
It was absolutely more than I could have ever imagined or dreamed of.
I had students sharing experiences regarding their family’s place of origin surrounding a map I have up, I had students reading in other languages, practicing English and helping each other, I had students just hanging out and using the conversation cards, I even had students who felt like they just needed a place to belong to go an share in community. It was wonderful.
In the second half of lunch when I opened it up to the grade 7 and 8 students, I even had a line up out the door and around the corner to check it out.
Although some may say that hosting something like this as a teacher it is overwhelming and a lot of work, it truly wasn’t. The students were as excited about all the different elements of the cafe and the centre as I was and the feedback was so great. Students were respectful and knew that it was a place of acceptance and I feel like they knew that because of the aura I created in this space.
My hopes for the Global Cafe are that it continues to grow maybe weekly or bi weekly and all students continue to feel comfortable using the Cultural Centre.
Thanks for sharing in this WIN as a new teacher,