Teachers: A Quick Guide to Embracing Your Multicultural Classroom
Spending time outside school with students and their families could have a positive impact on your cultural comprehension level—not only of the culture and background of your students, but also on the best ways to deal with, speak to, instruct, and discipline them.
After all, before addressing any behavior in a classroom, teachers must comprehend it, right? Well, teachers must know enough to be able to respect their students’ backgrounds, must have an idea of the struggles their students may face, and must be confident enough to address obstacles as they arise.
Teachers can understand their students’ different ethnic backgrounds through reading books, magazines, and papers on different cultures. As a teacher, you can also attend workshops, seminars, and cultural activities. All of these actions matter—they will give you a better idea of the multitude of cultures in the student population. Maybe they will even give you a better understanding of your own culture in relation to others.
Get to know the families and communities of your students. It will give you an invaluable insight to the personality, attitudes, and behavior of any student. Asking parents to help in class or asking students to bring in items and speak about them in class will help address multiculturalism, eliminating ignorance, fear, and discrimination. Actively speaking to the students about their hobbies, jobs, or history and heritage of their ethnic group will give teachers clues and tools for dialogue.
Dialogue between teachers and students and families will create an atmosphere of genuine acceptance, while encouraging students to have a sense of pride in who they are and where they come from. Without pride, a student will struggle with a lack of confidence. To promote the notion of taking pride in one’s cultural background, you as a teacher should attempt to seamlessly include information about a range of cultures into your curriculum and daily activities. This helps to unite the learning environment with the students’ identities.
Multicultural education helps students see how events can be interpreted differently by various groups. Therefore, it is applicable to all students, regardless of whether or not they belong to a minority group.
It’s important to note that multicultural education should not mean lowering expectations or making excuses for low performance. Teachers should not lower the bar or limit the objectives for students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds or for minority students but should rather keep standards high for all students, providing support where needed to meet these goals.
What do you think are some ways to make your classroom reflective of the diversity in our nation today? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments.