CELEBRATING DIVERSITY IN THE CLASSROOM 8
There is no doubt that globalization has led to the movement ofpeople into different countries, regions and learning institutions.Therefore, learning institutions across the world and especially inthe United States comprise students from varied backgrounds. Thesedifferences relate to the students’ race, ethnicity, religion,sexual orientation, gender, political perspective, culture, physicaldisability, and social class (Schnellert, 2014). It is essential forall stakeholders in the learning institutions to enhance inclusivityand provide an accommodative environment where all students,regardless of their backgrounds, can feel accepted and valued.Teachers play a central role in ensuring that the classroom isaccommodative and appreciates every student. Documented research hasindicated that teachers can use various strategies to achieve anaccommodative classroom environment. Notably, lack of anaccommodative environment in the classroom can impede the learningprocess.
Thesis: Students are continually discriminated in Americanlearning institutions due to their personal and natural attributessuch as race and religion. However, teachers and learning communitiescan employ various strategies that can reduce or possibly eliminatethis vice.
Learning Community that Celebrates Diversity
Classrooms in America today are diverse than ever. It is well knownthat everyone has bias, however subtle such bias might. The racial,political, gender, sexual orientation or religious as well ascultural differences that students and teaching staff have might leadto some of discrimination. In a time where political differences areextremely huge, there is a likelihood of not accepting the people whoare in the other divide. Numerous high school, college and universitystudents in the U.S. are bullied and discriminated against but theyremain silent (Landsman & Lewis, 2015). The few cases ofdiscrimination that see it to the mainstream news media indicate howdivisive the learning institutions are. However, a learningenvironment must be in a position to celebrate this diversity and useit to the advantage of the students. A learning community thatcelebrates diversity ensures that all the students are accommodatedand feel that their cultural values, religious values and otherattributes are valued and compare equally to those of other people.
In order to celebrate diversity, a learning community must havestaffs that are pulled from different religions, culturalbackgrounds, sexes and races. This will signify that the community isitself diverse and therefore values different aspects of people.Furthermore, such a community indicates that there is no single race,culture, religion or sex that is seen as being dominant (Armstrong,2012). The students will emulate this hence promoting the culture ofdiversity in such a learning setting. Opportunities such asleadership ones must be distributed equally among the staffs. Forinstance, it would be prudent to have the top management teamcomprising of people from varied background such as Christians,Muslims, men and women, whites and blacks, as well disabled people.This will demonstrate a culture of inclusivity in the learningcommunity.
Secondly, it is essential for a learning community that celebratesdiversity to listen to every student. Furthermore, student complaintsshould be taken seriously when they relate to diversity issues.Students must be encouraged to speak out wherever they feel thattheir cultural attributes are being belittled. It is essential forthe community to have meetings where different cultures arecelebrated (Schnellert, 2014). Furthermore, research has indicatedthat involving the parents of the students when devising teachingmethods that are inclusive is essential. Students must be encouragedto learn different cultures and to try and understand them. For anystudent to appreciate other cultures, they must first learn why theculture is important and what its tenets are.
Celebrating diversity implies that that the learning community mustdeter any form of discrimination that is based on natural individualdifferences such as race, sex and ethnicity. Laws must be put inplace that ought to punish the students or even members of staff whofail to promote diversity or belittle some people based on theirperson attributes. This is aimed at enhancing respect and dignity fordifferent people. Whereas laws may not change the hearts of thepeople and force them to appreciate other cultures, it is essentialto note that they can deter an individual from openly rebukinganother one whom he or she considers different (Schnellert, 2014).Since there are many laws that are hardly implemented, it isimportant for learning communities to ensure that the laws arestrictly implemented and observed. Stiff penalties that includeexpulsion from the school should be included in the laws.
Strategies that Teachers Use to Create an Accommodative LearningEnvironment
There are a number of strategies that teachers can use in aclassroom to ensure that all students feel included and succeed.Teaching methods comprise one of the strategies that teachers canutilize to create an inclusive environment in a classroom that isdiverse. When asking questions in the classroom, it is important forthe teacher to ask questions uniformly. In other words, students whoare slow learners, disabled or from minority races must be givenequal opportunity to participate in the class (Schnellert, 2014).Teachers must not concentrate on bright students, but must also teachat a pace that will ensure that the slowest learning student willunderstand the content. Furthermore, teachers must encourage learnerswho are slow in learning to ask questions. This will ensure that alllearners succeed in capturing the content.
Another effective strategy that teachers can use to enhanceinclusivity is organizing cultural festivals in the classroom or inthe school. During these events, teachers must invite the parents andencourage them to bring in cultural foods and dress in a manner thatpromotes their culture (Landsman & Lewis, 2015). This will ensurethat all the students, who are from different cultural backgrounds,showcase their cultural aspects. Students will learn and appreciatethe cultures of other students, as well as have fun whileparticipating in these events. It is essential to note thatdiscrimination occurs when the students cannot understand othercultures. Moreover, learning other cultures through fun activities isextremely entertaining hence sticks in the minds of the students.Teachers should encourage learners to learn the differences betweentheir own cultures and that of their classmates.
While discrimination and bullying related to race, religion,culture, sexual orientation, and gender may be occurring, they arehardly reported to the teachers. It is the responsibility of theteacher to create trust between him or her and the students. This canbe achieved through having individual sessions with students who feeldiscriminated in school. The teacher can invite learners in theoffice and discuss with them any issues they might be facing(Clauss-Ehlers, 2016). In other words, he should show the studentsthat he cares for their welfare. Furthermore, the teacher should takeinterest in the needs of the learners such as knowing their culture.He or she should also approach the parents of the students includingvisiting them to learn and understand their cultures. This willensure that the students trust their teachers and open up to themregarding the issues affecting them.
The nature of the books that the learners find in the school librarycan either promote or negatively affect the issue of discrimination.It is the role of the teacher to ensure that he or she avails booksto learners that are written by author from varying culturalbackgrounds. For example, a teacher can have books that are writtenblacks and also others written by whites, Indians and Mexicans(Schnellert, 2014). This will ensure that the learners respect otherstudents’ cultures. It is equally important for the teacher toencourage students to read books that promote inclusivity andappreciation of other people’s cultures and attributes. Moreover,it is essential for the teacher to discourage the learners fromreading books that seem to encourage suppression of some cultures orshow some cultures as retrogressive.
In the classroom, teachers from certain ethnic or racial backgroundssuch as Indians or Africans might find it hard to pronounce somestudents’ names from other races. Notably, this is an extremely badtrend that can create a feeling of rejection and non-satisfaction inthe classroom for some students (Grossman, 2013). Therefore, teachersmust learn how to pronounce all students’ names in the classroom.This will create an atmosphere of equality and appreciation of everyculture. Furthermore, the language that the teacher uses in theclassroom must be universal and understandable to all the learners.
Strategies that the Cooperating Teacher Implemented
During the class time, I observed the teacher implement a number ofthe above discussed strategies to celebrate diversity. Primarily, theteacher mastered all the students’ names and pronounced themcorrectly. This ensured that the students felt being part of theclass. Furthermore, the teacher encouraged the participation of allthe learners during question and answer sessions. He taught at a pacethat ensured all the learners understood the content and answeredquestions from all the learners effectively. Furthermore, there wereinstances when the teacher called in individual students in theoffice to interrogate them on the issues they might be facing. Thisensured that the students developed trust with the teacher and feltfree to share any issues they might have been facing. Another uniqueway that the teacher used to celebrate diversity was providing booksthat were authored by people from almost all the races represented inthe classroom. He equally highlighted the need to respect each otherand to avoid discriminating others since all students are equallygifted and talented.
While concluding, it is clear that today’s classrooms in the U.S.are diverse in nature. Students from all over the world participatein classes together. Therefore, the classes comprise of students fromdifferent races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders,nationalities, religions and political interests. It is essential forlearning communities including teachers to celebrate diversitythrough various strategies. Organizing cultural events thatdemonstrate cultural aspects from varied communities is important. Inaddition, students must be encouraged to read books from authors fromdifferent racial, cultural or ethnic backgrounds. There is need toinclude all students in the learning process, regardless of theirpersonal attributes. In order for learners to be successful ingrasping the content, they must feel included in the classroom andappreciated by the teachers and the teaching staff. Students and theteaching staff who demonstrate non-accommodative behavior should bepunished and if possible expelled from the learning institution. Itis essential to ensure that the classrooms are inclusive andaccommodative and that all learners feel comfortable and appreciatedby others.
Armstrong, T. (2012). Neurodiversity in the classroom:Strength-based strategies to help students withspecial needs succeed in school and life. Alexandria, VirginiaUSA : ASCD.
Clauss-Ehlers, C. S. (2016). Diversity training for classroomteaching: A manual for students and educators. NewYork, NY: Springer.
Grossman, H. (2013). Classroom behavior management fordiverse and inclusive schools. Lanham, Md: Rowman &Littlefield Publishers.
Landsman, J., & Lewis, C. W. (2015). White teachers,diverse classrooms: Creating inclusive schools,building on students` diversity, and providing true educationalequity. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub.
Schnellert, L. (2014). Student diversity: Classroomstrategies to meet the learning needs of all students.Markham, Ont: Pembroke.