Enlarging the Boundaries of Educators to Advance the Education of Border Crossers

By: Mubina Kirmani   Barbara Laster  

Border crossing is awakening educators to new cultural and religious realities in classrooms. With the new wave of refugees there is a great need to understand the “other” and create inclusive learning environments so children and families feel safe and secure in their adopted new lands. We, as professors of education and as practicing members of Jewish and Muslim religion within majority Christian communities in the United States, understand what it means to be the “other.” We bring 25 years of collaborative professional experience having trained educators to support children and families from different cultural and religious backgrounds in public schools. We listen to and collect vignettes and life stories and use them to sensitize educators to the challenges that children/families from minority cultures and religion face and how educators can become allies and positive role models. This workshop includes a series of anecdotes, vignettes, activities, and questions to help participants understand the perspectives of refugees and new border-crossers. More specifically, participants in the workshop will: 1) Examine vignettes about culturally diverse students/families within educational settings. 2) Actively participate in a Carousel Brainstorming activity to help deconstruct different religious practices and see similarities through use of common themes such as water and light. 3) Voice critical and constructive higher order thinking to promote understanding across diverse students/families.

Education, Religion, Inclusiveness
Education and Learning in a World of Difference
Workshop Presentation

Mubina Kirmani

Professor, Early Childhood Education, Towson University, United States
Maryland, United States

Dr. Mubina Hassanali Kirmani, is the recipient of the President's Diversity Award at Towson University. She is an autor of an award winning children's book, "Bundle of Secrets: Savita Returns Home" that focuses on migration of children and their adoption to new life. The book has been translated into Chinese and Spanish. Dr. Kirmani has also co-aothered a children's book on Religious Diversity, "Wandering Wind" that teaches children of different faiths tolerance. Currentlly, she teaches both graduate and undergratuate courses on Diversity to train teachers and other professionals and travels nationally and internationally to present on the importance of diversity in learning environments. 

Dr. Barbara Laster

Professor, Educational Technology and Literacy; Elementary Education, Towson University, United States
MD, United States

Barbara Laster is a researcher, children's book author, and teachers. From 1974-1994, she was a reading teacher in North Florida, the Appalachian region of Ohio, rural Massachusetts, and multiple schools in suburban Northern Virginia. Since becoming a Professor of Education, Dr. Laster has primarily taught teachers who are aspiring reading specialists during the past 25 years. Currently, she teaches courses on the cultural contexts of literacy, reading disabilities, literacy assessment and instruction, and other topics. Her scholarly work includes more than 50 peer-reviewed articles or book chapters in such publications as English Journal, The Reading Teacher, and The Handbook of Reading Comprehension Research. Besides her work with educators across the United States, Dr. Laster has taught teachers in Guatemala, Egypt, and Iceland.