“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” – Maya Angelou
The following information is taken from this article.
It’s 2017 and you can bet your bottom dollar that any class that you are put into these days is going to be diverse. For some teachers who are stuck in traditional ways of teaching, this is intimidating, but for some it is a challenge to incorporate each learner into the woodwork and to make sure each of their needs are met.
Research shows that, “traditional teaching methods are often ineffective for learners outside of the majority culture.” The article states that many students from minority groups, especially women and people of colour, are most likely to prosper when their classroom has a focus on collaborative work where they can share personal experiences and, “examine relationships between persons and ideas”. In parallel, more competitive learning environments may cause students from minority groups to feel isolated and unable to speak their mind. In classrooms that model competitive learning, such as calling on students who raise their hands quicker than others, some students fall between the cracks. In environments such as this it is important to outline clear expectations for when it is appropriate to speak, to always show respect, and that it’s OK to make mistakes.
Some of the questions outlined in the article are:
- Do your examples or illustrations acknowledge the experiences of people from different backgrounds in non-stereotypical ways?
- Have you examined your own conscious or unconscious biases about people of other cultures?
- Are the students welcome to share from their own lives and interests? Are they treated as individuals?
I found the question regarding the resources used in the classroom showing perspectives of people from an array of backgrounds to provoke a lot of thought around what that would like in a BC classroom. Incorporating materials written from the perspectives similar to those of students in your class could seriously promote empathy and acceptance within your classroom dynamic. For example, including stories or books by First Nations peoples into social studies lessons or science lessons could spark new ideas for many students in your classroom and could also allow for First Nations children in your classroom to take pride in their culture and share their own experiences. Again, it is important to allow room for cooperation, sharing, and relationship building in the diverse classroom.
Ultimately, if you are working to create an inclusive classroom then you are also making strides towards making your classroom a safe space for every child. By incorporating times for students to connect, share experiences, and work collaboratively you are creating space for students to celebrate and respect their diversities as strengths rather than weaknesses. Keep in mind that small group work should be monitored so that students are working in new combinations of partners often.
“Whichever methods you choose to make your classroom more inclusive, know that remaining sensitive to and flexible about the ways diverse populations communicate, behave and think, will help create a supportive learning environment for all students.”