Promoting diversity in the classroom is vital to making students feel included in the group instead of alienated. It also helps students learn about and respect their peers' cultures and backgrounds. As an educator, you can foster a positive classroom environment built on diversity.
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Sharing of Differences
Encouraging members of the class to share something special about themselves or their culture can promote diversity. They can tell about a hobby they enjoy or a certain tradition their family honours. Students should be allowed to ask respectful questions of the student who is sharing. When students share these types of things with others, they promote an awareness of different backgrounds and experiences, which promotes diversity. Teachers should monitor the exchange of information carefully to ensure that no put-downs, bullying or other inappropriate behaviour takes place.
As a teacher, you can invite guest speakers -- such as an entrepreneur who has a disability or a person who relocated to the United States from a different country -- to your classroom to promote diversity. Students will have the opportunity to learn and understand about different people's situations and contrast those situations to their own. You can also incorporate different age-appropriate activities such as a study of different types of food or music from different cultures or an investigation of the different types of hair each student has. Each student can pull one strand of hair from his head and tape it to a note card with his name written on it. Class members can contrast the colour, thickness, texture and length of the hairs. Any activity that highlights some type of difference will promote diversity.
Creating a Diverse Environment
As an educator, you can promote diversity through the decorations you choose for the classroom. Hang posters that offer different cultural perspectives and include people of different ages and races. You can also take the time to find out about your individual students, such as their learning styles and interests, so you can create a more diverse learning environment in the classroom that addresses the needs of different students.
Educators can call attention to diversity throughout the curriculum, no matter what topic the students are studying. For instance, when teaching U.S. history, the teacher can talk about people from different cultures who came to America to start a new life and how America is now made up of a population that contains people from all cultural and ethnic origins that contribute to a rich and interesting society. It's important to encourage students consistently to see that the world is full of differences and the positive impact those differences can make.
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