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A Diverse Classroom

Fostering a school culture that welcomes diversity within the classroom holds the potential to bring forth a positive influence on the entire school community. This occurrence leads to the establishment of a secure, encouraging, and meaningful setting for both students and faculty, subsequently enabling students' comprehensive growth—both in their academics and social interactions.

Within a society that is progressively becoming more diverse, the capacity to establish connections with classmates, colleagues, and community members from various backgrounds and skill sets is of immense worth. Diversity serves to enhance the prowess of critical thinking, cultivate empathy, and prompt students to adopt unique perspectives.

The Benefits of a Diverse Classroom

The presence of diversity within the classroom nurtures the growth of students' social awareness, enabling them to value varied viewpoints and formulate more robust conclusions. Encouraging students to ponder diverse perspectives also imparts essential skills for engaging with peers on a social plane, furnishing them with lifelong tools for effective interaction.

By adopting inclusive and responsive strategies towards diversity, educational institutions increase the probability of students encountering their own identities reflected in classroom resources and their fellow students. Conversely, when diversity isn't prioritised and these students don't sense inclusion, their participation diminishes and feelings of inferiority in comparison to their peers can emerge.

“To understand an idea is to understand the ideas that surround it, including those that stand in contrast to it. Idea diversity creates a rich environment for ideas to evolve into new and more refined forms. This pedagogical approach may help students to appreciate and value all forms of diversity and how diversity enriches learning.”

Richard Messina, Principal of OISE’s Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study.

How to Promote a Culture of Diversity in Your Classroom

Re-Evaluate Your Teaching Materials

My-Skin-Your-Skin-by-Laura-Henry-Allain
laura_henry-allain

Which voices are speaking in your classroom?


That is, whose stories do you tell? Especially in the humanities and social sciences, teaching materials can often be limited to Western, white, male and middle-class narratives. Choose authors like Sir Lenny Henry, Rosie Jones and Laura Henry-Allain.

The-boy-with-wings-by-Lenny-Henry
The-Amazing-Edie-Eckhart-by-Rosie-Jones

Get to Know Your Students

Invest effort in understanding your students: Explore their backgrounds—where do they originate? Gain insight into their socio-economic conditions in general terms. Are they comfortably meeting academic benchmarks, or do they face challenges? How well do they interact with their fellow peers?​
 

Be Willing to Address Inequality

Fostering inclusivity in the classroom involves establishing a secure environment where both students and educators can openly discuss the personal, classroom-related, and school-wide impacts of discriminatory issues.

The greater the emphasis on diversity within your classroom, the more students and other teachers will feel empowered to engage with the subject. As an educator, you have the opportunity to initiate discussions and motivate others to take meaningful steps.

However, this dialogue should extend beyond mere words. To enact effective change, it's vital to proactively address inequality as you encounter it. Here are practical measures you can take:

  • Utilise language that promotes positivity and avoids reinforcing stereotypes. For instance, refrain from using phrases like "boys will be boys" to justify sexism or aggression.

  • Swiftly and effectively respond to inappropriate comments or actions. Treat infractions seriously and keep families informed of your actions.

  • Demonstrate inclusion and acceptance through your own behaviour. Encourage students to include all their peers, especially when you observe divisions along racial or economic lines.

  • Eradicate existing indicators of inequality within your classroom by making all learning accessible to all students. Even though it may look different, the outcome is the same.

By implementing these strategies, you can actively contribute to a more equitable and inclusive educational environment.

Connect with Families and the School Community

Schools are a central part of the community and should reflect and celebrate its diversity.
​Communicate your goals for diversity in the classroom to families. Ask if they have any questions or concerns, and then listen. Invite them to identify areas in the curriculum or in the classroom culture that they feel could benefit from more of a focus on diversity.

Equality does not equate to uniformity – equality involves ensuring that each student possesses the necessary resources to thrive both individually and academically. By initiating discussions and subsequently taking tangible steps, you convey a strong stance that intolerance will not be accepted within your classroom.

Meet Diverse Learning Needs

Uniform standards cannot be applied to a diverse classroom, so begin collaborating with other teachers to establish distinct approaches for students with varying learning requirements. Here are a few recommendations to ensure the classroom remains accessible and fair:

  • Introduce adaptive technologies.

  • Utilise various forms of instruction and teaching methodologies. Approaches such as project-based learning, differentiated instruction, and blended learning enable educators to assist students with diverse needs.

  • Create opportunities for all students to contribute. Within groups, have students take on different roles that fit their strengths.

Take Part In Professional Development

You, as a teacher, will likely undertake the majority of the day-to-day endeavours to foster diversity in the classroom. Professional development resources can assist in adeptly addressing both challenges and opportunities.

In certain schools, teachers participate in dedicated professional development sessions that demonstrate the presence of structural inequalities in classroom dynamics. They also learn to amplify student voices over their own. This is of particular significance, given that certain classrooms encompass a notable degree of economic diversity. Through professional development, teachers are more adeptly prepared to tackle challenges and address biases within both themselves and their students.

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