Responding Positively to Classroom Diversity
Diversity has become deeply integrated in the American educational system. In every state in the nation it is rare for teachers to not have some form of diversity in the classroom, regardless of the degree. Whether a student is from Europe, Asia, Central America or Africa, there are differences in culture, speech, language, customs and habits. The teacher’s responsibility is to create opportunities for understanding and appreciating these factors.
Educating students regarding each other’s culture creates knowledge and respect for others who may look different and do unfamiliar things than what Americans are traditional familiar with. For example, Mexican and Somalian students may dress different from the typical American student. They may differ in many areas, such a food choice, approach to greeting, and communicating kindness and warmth. Therefore, teachers must be ready to use these ideas for educating a diverse classroom population.
If teachers are not responsive to classroom diversity, they will have a difficult time making students feel comfortable with one another. As a result, confusion and disrespect will most likely be a continually issue in the classroom. But when students understand others who are different with appreciation, the chance is ripe for creating multiple friendships.
Strategies for Responding Positively to Diversity
• Reading about culture is a good way of introducing students to diversity. Teachers should invest in books that offer insights in to a variety of cultures. Books that interpret words in a different language or describe types of clothing and foods relevant to other cultures are good starters.
• Watching videos of how different cultures interact within their own cultures is another way of presenting cultural ideas. Students can see live people going about their daily lives, fulfilling habits and routines.
• Allowing students to do projects involving posters can be an exciting way of educating students about other people and cultures.
These posters can be hung in the hallways outside the classroom for other classes to enjoy.
Diversity in the educational system is here to stay. Studies state that 65% of American citizens will be minority by 2020. What does that say a about American classroom diversity classroom? As a teacher you must become more and more comfortable in educating a diverse population if you desire to stay ahead of the game. Many teachers back down from choosing to work at schools where diverse student populations are prominent because they just don’t understand these types of cultures. But becoming a master at diversity will separate you from your peers and take you to the mountain top. Exceptional teachers are willing to take on all challenges.
As a teacher, the most important thing that you must understand is that you are put here on the earth to educate all children, regardless of the race or culture. Adapting this mindset will go a long way in encouraging you to appreciate your God giving gift.
You make a difference in each child’s life when you believe each has an equal chance to excel in society when given a fair chance. You are that fair chance.
Resources for teachers
Teachers who might feel a bit uncomfortable interacting with diverse classrooms should take extra classes in diversity training. Understanding how different cultures communicate and interact with one another will go a long way in understanding how to conduct a multi-cultured classroom.
Exceptional teachers study books and read literature about other cultures on an ongoing basis to stay on top of trends occurring in different communities. Since the Hispanic and Hmong population in America are growing at an ever increasing rate, it would be wise to study the lifestyle of these populations thoroughly. The effort will pay off if you happen to need to teach such groups.