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  • 0:04 Fostering Success in…
  • 0:43 A Proactive Approach
  • 1:44 Zero-Tolerance Policy
  • 2:39 Teaching Respect
  • 3:51 Activities That…
  • 5:46 Lesson Summary
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Creating a Classroom Environment that Supports Cultural Diversity

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

All teachers want students to feel accepted and valued in their classroom. In this lesson, learn how to create a classroom environment that supports the cultural diversity of your students.

Fostering Success in the Classroom

Recognizing and appreciating cultural diversity is the heart of creating an authentic classroom experience that prepares students to be active citizens in the ''real world.'' However, as beautiful as cultural diversity is, if teachers do not handle it correctly, they are not only missing out on creating a valuable learning experience, but also may potentially make students feel isolated or discriminated against. In this lesson we will be examining the importance of having a proactive approach to diversity and a zero-tolerance policy for insensitive behavior. We will also cover strategies for teaching respect.

A Proactive Approach

In having a proactive approach- one where topics like likes prejudice, discrimination, racism, and stereotypes are openly discussed- you will be changing the conversation about diversity. Rather than treating them as taboo topics, students will feel comfortable in sharing their thoughts and feelings on these topics.

By initiating conversations on diversity, the teacher sets the standard for how to discuss potentially sensitive topics. There are several ways for teachers to introduce and discuss these topics with their students. Sharing personal experiences and inviting students to do the same is one of the best ways to start the conversation. Teachers should acknowledge that there are potential differences between their own racial, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds that create a different perspective than what their students have experienced. Although a teacher will be the one leading this conversation, it's imperative that they tell their students that they do not have all the experiences or answers to topics on diversity.

Zero-Tolerance Policy

For open and honest discussions to take place, students must feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences on diversity. One of the keys to creating this environment is in having a zero-tolerance policy that does not permit or allow for any culturally insensitive behavior. A teacher cannot control the conversations that students are exposed to outside of school or control the potentially insensitive things students see on the media. Because of this, it's important that teachers first explain to students what discrimination and insensitive behavior looks like. Next, a teacher must create, explain, and implement a policy that allows no room for insensitivity. As with other classroom procedures, discipline in this policy should be firm, consistent. and include conversations between student and teacher about why the behavior was inappropriate.

Teaching Respect

After establishing a classroom environment that encourages conversations on diversity and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for negative language, a teacher must teach students about respecting differences. Regardless of where you teach, there will be diversity in your class. There will always be some difference in socioeconomic status, heritage, native language, religion, political opinions, etc. As the teacher, you must show value and validation for these differences. Your example will model appropriate behavior for students.

Many classrooms across America include students whose native language is one other than English. Some of these students may have immigrated to the United States from another country, or these students might be raised in a home where English is not spoken. Whatever the reason, it's important to support, value, and validate English language-learning (ELL) students who speak a different language. An easy way to do this would be by incorporating a Share and Tell time, where students could teach other students about their native language or culture. If students are shy to share in front of the class, partner together two or more students with the same native language.

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