Fostering inclusion and awareness around multicultural education and taking a culturally responsive approach to teaching all students
Not only does creating greater multicultural awareness and inclusion help students with different backgrounds and needs succeed, but it encourages acceptance and helps prepare students to thrive in an exponentially diverse world.
Diversity in and out of the classroom will continue to grow, so we must prepare students to adapt.
How to manage diversity in the classroom
Get to Know Your Students
Ensuring that cultural awareness is promoted in the classroom starts with the teacher understanding each student. Take the time to learn about each student’s cultural background, hobbies, learning styles, and what makes them unique. Demonstrating a genuine interest in learning about each student and their culture will help establish trust and allow you to form a bond with them so they feel valued. If students feel appreciated by and comfortable with the teacher, there’s a better chance they’ll feel comfortable talking with and respect their peers in the class – and communication is the core to a culturally aware and inclusive classroom.
Maintain Consistent Communication
Aside from getting to know your students, teachers should also continue to maintain ongoing communication throughout the semester or school year. Scheduling 1-on-1 meetings with students to “check-in” every so often will allow you to consistently improve how accessible the classroom is to everyone. Students can talk about whether they felt included in the classroom culture. This can help identify issues or ways to improve the overall experience. It’s also an opportunity to discuss their progress in the class and offer guidance on how they can improve, based on their individual needs as a student.
Acknowledge and Respect Every Student
It’s also important for students to celebrate and respect their diverse backgrounds, as well as each. When appropriate, teachers should encourage students to research and learn about their own ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This allows them to better understand their own culture as well as the differences and nuances with their peers. As a bonus, this can be a great ice breaker assignment, allowing students to give presentations about their family traditions and culture to help expose the class to concepts outside of their familiar comfort zone. Acknowledging these differences and creating a safe space for discussion helps promote understanding in the classroom and beyond. Also, as you encourage students to learn about their diverse backgrounds, remember to take the time to highlight what’s offensive and the distinction between cultural celebration and appropriation. Learning how to talk about other cultures in a respectful, mature way is essential for success in life outside the classroom.
Practice Cultural Sensitivity
While it’s important to keep an open dialogue amongst students, it’s equally as important to make sure you’re being sensitive to everyone’s culture, beliefs, and language concerns. Take the time to understand each student’s cultural nuances – from learning styles to the language they use – and use these insights to design your lesson plans. For example, provide English language learners with appropriate and relevant resources that help them improve their English comprehension skills. Rather than teach with a traditional lecture style, create learning experiences that are more interactive and require collaboration. These considerations will help ensure that every student feels included, is given the space to learn in their way, and is given a chance to succeed.