A few anecdotes from my life experience on exposure to cultural diversity, born in a country of diversity we have learnt’ Unity in diversity ‘at school. We have different languages, different customs, different perspectives yet we appreciate each other’s customs and culture through exchange programs and community living. As a spouse of a armed forces I had an opportunity to travel across the country and live with diverse people in the armed forces campus, teach kids from diverse background ,interact with them in everyday activities that helped me to understand and empathize with their life in villages, towns deep inside the country.
Diversity Makes us Smarter.
Discussions with our frontline soldiers on the drastic weather conditions they face to keep our borders intact and the measures they take to keep fellow countrymen safe is outstanding deed. Later I moved in to one of our neighboring countries for brief period of time. I had to learn a new language and new art form that depicted their lifestyle. It was interesting to dive into the new sea of life, struggle to swim, hold each other and learn about cultural diversity successfully. It’s a proud moment to talk about diversity in our country yet live together in a same community and enjoy the integrity learnt at school, ‘Together we stand for our nation’ and I confide Diversity made me stronger and smarter.
Diversity is what differentiates people from each other. While we travel across any country, we find diverse customs and beliefs, varied language accents and interesting food habits. A traveler enjoys the diversity, tries to learn about the differences and highlights it in a travelogue while at learning environment it’s a challenge for the teachers to handle cultural differences and inculcate the habit of appreciating diversity in class environment. While planning the lesson the teachers prepare differentiated learning strategies to enable learners with different learning styles.
In a culturally diversified classroom, it’s the added responsibility of a teacher to involve learners from different countries or culturally different into one whole set and teach. Instead can segregate them as mixed groups, let them interact, understand the differences in their backgrounds and let them explore the beauty of diversity.
Let’s look into ideas and suggestions of psychologists and researchers on cultural diversity, The University of Rhode Island defines diversity in I classroom as “understanding each student brings unique experiences, strengths, and concepts to our classroom … Diversity is that the exploration and incorporation of those differences to complement learning in our classroom.”
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Richard Messina, principal of OISE’s Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, defines this practice as “idea diversity:”
“To understand a thought is to know the ideas that surround it, including people who substitute contrast thereto . Idea diversity creates an upscale environment for ideas to evolve into new and more refined forms. This pedagogical approach may help students to understand and value all sorts of diversity and the way diversity enriches learning.”
A Culturally Responsive Curriculum
A culturally responsive curriculum schools that acknowledge students from diverse background build better thinkers. Diversity in classroom includes capacity to appreciate different perspectives and draw stronger conclusions. Learning about diversity improves academic outcomes, improves critical thinking skills and builds confidence among learners to understand life outside their home.
Studies reveal that effectively integrated schools can achieve less misbehavior, low dropout levels and better performance that are socially acceptable. Challenging learners to consider different perspective can enhance their interaction with their peers, improve their social skills and equip them for rest of their life. Culturally responsive curriculum includes diversity in all aspects and involves more students to acknowledge differences.
Ways to Incorporate Diversity in a Class
There are variety of ways to incorporate diversity in a class environment. It involves the goals and expectations of the learners.
• In an inclusive classroom the instructors turned facilitators are aware of the diversity of work to create a safe and collaborative learning environment.
• The facilitator fosters cultural awareness, demonstrates genuine care to understand cultural, emotional and intellectual needs of the learner.
• The facilitator focuses on learner centered activities to ensure that the learners express their ethnic background and celebrate their uniqueness.
• The facilitator indulges in research and analysis of the learner background before planning an inclusive classroom session.
• The facilitator nurtures the environment to reduce power of differences through questionnaires and knowledge-based questions.
• Incorporation diverse ideas into the course content or teaching about cultural differences provide valuable perspectives to the content being learned.
• The facilitator maintains sensitivity in language while handling nonnative speakers of the language.
• Instructions to be marginalized with correct level of fluency to enable the learners to actively learn the language.
• Culturally responsive instructions help the students to appreciate their capacity to understand and follow.
• The facilitator can introduce methods of self-testing that ensures praises for learners’ accomplishments.
• Learners turn into active participants and they learn to reframe the concept of testing.
• Learners have wide scope in problem solving and brain storming ideas in a diverse group.
Diversity can be conceptualized in multiple ways in the classrooms. Each learner brings unique experiences from their background and express their ideas from their perspective. The varied dimensions can be based on race, ethnicity, socio economic status, political beliefs and ideologies from their family tree. Socially diverse groups inside a classroom are more innovative than homogenous group because different backgrounds provide opportunities to share new information .Simply interacting with diverse group members enable learners to prepare , anticipate alternate view points and to reach consensus will take effort .
The first step towards teaching multicultural awareness is preparing the resources .Teachers can utilize the resources to create unique activities to teach English While teaching sciences, mathematics and humanities teachers can incorporate ideas from various parts of the world and integrate subjects to present a novel idea. Teachers as facilitators identify that diversity is the exploration and incorporation of diverse thinking to enrich classroom learning experience.
Smart Ways to Ensure Diversity In a Classroom
Teaching for a change encourages cultural diversity among teachers and students to rethink, rediscover their classroom, analyze the world inside and outside build more equitable multicultural society and evolve into globally responsible citizens. If it’s difficult to bring about the change in the classroom question the learners to identify the challenges that restrict the change and trigger their critical thinking skills .Let all learners in the school identify themselves a unique individuals and use that fact to build diverse inclusive class environment. With every data in mind it may be difficult to start an innovative program as an individual. Here are some smart ways to move on:
• Schedule time out of your day to visit classrooms, connect with colleagues, build a relationship with learners and share your thoughts with them.
• Communicate your visions and goals and be ready to listen to their inputs. Encourage learners to involve in planning activities.
• When you know the learner’s strength and weakness, exploit their individuality and diversity to equip yourself to promote diversity in school.
• Create opportunities to talk about discrimination and be willing to accept issues related to inequality.
• More diverse the topic you raise, the fewer learners would address them. So, be prepared to face failures and challenges.
• Encourage learners to address neutral issues around them and highlight the core issue to be approached in a different perspective.
• Use positive language, reduce discrimination thoughts among learners through multi-cultural activities.
• Be more creative, diligent, and hard-working towards the goal.
• Introduce adaptive learning. Adaptive learning provides learners with physical or learning challenges to learn along with peers.
• Encourage team of colleagues to use different teaching learning strategies to enable learners with different needs to participate in the event .
• Make sure all learners are involved and track their participation and appreciate their effort.
• Morning messages can help welcome students to school and reinforce academic skills.
• To conclude I share with you my formula of inclusion in diversity.
Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think that , more talented than you recognize , and capable of quite you imagine.- Roy.T Bennett
Materials required: supplies unlimited, time 24*7, energy within
1. Stay calm, talk to Self.
2. Plan your day
3. Implement to the best of ability
4. Achieve goals in small packets
Result: Every small task is mission accomplished.
Inference: Tiny drops of water make a mighty ocean.
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