7 ways to support diversity in the classroom [with examples] (2023)

Aschool culturewhere people hugdiversity in teachingcan have a positive impact on the school community. When this happens, the school community creates a safe, supportive and helpful environment for students and staff, which in turn enables students to grow academically.jsocial

In an increasingly fragmented society, the ability to connect with colleagues, co-workers and neighbors with diverse backgrounds and abilities is invaluable. Diversity fosters critical thinking skills, builds empathy, and encourages students to think differently.

If you want to support diversity, this post is for you.

What is diversity in the classroom?

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Diversity is everything that separates people from each other.This includes many different factors: race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, age, religious beliefs or political beliefs. All of these factors work together to inform how students (and teachers and everyone else) encounter the world.

University of Rhode Islanddefines diversity in the classroomsuch as "Understanding that each student brings unique experiences, strengths, and ideas to our classroom...Diversity means exploring and embracing those differences to enrich learning in our classroom."

As an illustrated definition of diversity, this video shows what America would look like if it were just a group of 100 people:

These realities are already reflected in your school and it is important that you address them.

Why is diversity important in the classroom?

If you ignore the issue of diversity in the classroom and choose not to encourage diversity in your school, you are not doing your job.

Children go to school to be prepared for the world of work, so education must effectively address and accept the realities that accompany life and work in a diverse school, community and country.

Not only that, there are othersresearch-backed reasonsEncouraging diversity in the classroom:

Diversity in the classroom encourages critical thinkers

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Accordinglyan article by Scientific American, we're more likely to think about an issue when we're talking to someone different from us:

"Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and demographers show that socially diverse groups (i.e., those with differences in race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups."

(Video) Teaching Culturally Diverse Students

The same article points out that even the appearance of diversity (and thus the suggestion that there are different opinions) causes us to change the way we approach problems.

Students are no exception to this rule.Diversity in the classroom helps studentsdevelop social awarenessThis helps them appreciate different perspectives and draw stronger conclusions.By encouraging students to consider different perspectives, you can also teach them how to interact with their peers on a social level and equip them with skills they will use for the rest of their lives.

Improve academic results.

Diversity in the classroom not only improves social skills, but can alsoImpact on study results.Improve critical thinking skills and develop academic confidence.

According to a case study bythe founding of the century, students who attended a magnet school in Hartford, Connecticut, who had to meet racial integration standards through a lottery systemhigher-performing suburban students, who had a higher percentage of affluent white students on standardized test scores.

The same report also found that effectively integrated schools had less misconduct and lower dropout rates, and found that students were more likely to pursue post-secondary education.

Help students feel represented and included.

AccordinglyOISE-Professorin Ann López, diversity can “disrupt classroom narratives and stereotypes that position different people as a lack of invaluable or unqualified knowledge.”

Kudos to this California high school teacher for the encouragement21st Century SkillsB. Communication and social/diversity awareness through classroom collaboration.https://t.co/fnxu1AScJG https://t.co/fnxu1AScJG

– Elizabeth Woods (@woods_spunky)1. April 2019

When schools adopt inclusive and responsive approaches to diversity, students are more likely to see their identities represented in classroom materials or in other students. When diversity is not a priority and these students do not feel included, they are more likely to not participate and feel inferior to their peers.

AStudy by the University of California, Los Angelesanalyzed several classrooms to assess students' emotional achievements and found encouraging results. According to the study, students in classes with more diverse classes were more likely to feel safer, less alone, and less bullied at school.

Richard Messina, Director Dr. The Eric Jackman Institute of Child Studies at OISE defines this practice as “idea diversity”:

“To understand an idea is to understand the ideas that surround it, including those that oppose it.The diversity of ideas creates a rich environment for ideas to evolve into new and more sophisticated forms.. This pedagogical approach can help students appreciate and appreciate all forms of diversity and how diversity enriches learning.

7 ways to foster a culture of diversity in your school

He's fine. Therefore, cultivating diversity in your classroom is important due to the academic and social benefits. Good to know, but what does diversity in the classroom actually look like? And how can you promote it in your school?

Good news: there are many different options!

1. Re-evaluate your teaching materials

What voices are speaking in your classroom?

That's it,Whose stories are you telling?In the humanities and social sciences in particular, teaching materials can often be limited to Western, white, male and middle-class narratives.

(Video) 7 Ways to Encourage a Culture Diversity in School

Work with your teachers to see that you represent a wide range of voices in the curriculum. Whenever possible, teach literature by black authors.Examine historical narratives to see which voices are missing.– For example, a discussion of the civil rights movement might explore how it relates to gender equality, immigration, and the history of Latino, Hispanic, and Native American peoples.

That's itCitizens of the charter schools of the worldin California through a project-based approach,culturally sensitivejdata drivenLearning model

Some of the projects they work on to encourage diversity in the classroom include:

  • A first class demonstration to end homelessness: To learn about homelessness and civic engagement, students write letters to the mayor and use their creative skills to produce awareness materials such as posters and songs.
  • Practicing a second language in second grade.: Students who speak Spanish at home help teach their classmates and teachers how to pronounce and translate a Spanish song.
  • Fourth grade story: As they learn about the Gold Rush, students will write journals from a variety of historical actors such as miners and landowners, but also from the perspective of the women and immigrants who worked with them.

If changing your existing curriculum is difficult, take the opportunity to ask students why different perspectives were not considered and encourage them to use critical thinking skills.

2. Know your students

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(Video) Affirming Diversity In The Classroom Why it Matters to Your Students | Nadiyah Herron | TEDxCSUSB

All of the students in your school are unique individuals, so take advantage of that factBuilding a diverse and inclusive school culture.

Take the time to learn more about your students: where are they from? In what socio-economic situation do they live in general? Are they meeting academic performance standards or are they struggling? Do they get along with their peers?

With all that you have to pursue and work on, it can be difficult to find time to consciously build relationships with students, especially if you are new to the school or in a managerial position.

Here are some ways to get started:

  • Take time to visit the classrooms or walk the hallways. Let students know they can come to you with problems (or just to say hello), and then respond to what they say.
  • Share your vision and goals for the school with your teachers. Encourage them to reach out to you with questions or concerns, and work with them to promote diversity in the classroom.
  • Show some school spirit. Participate in school events and attend various clubs or extracurricular activities. When students perceive that you are involved in the school culture, they are more likely to participate.

When you know your students and understand their strengths and weaknesses, you'll be better equipped to help build a safe learning environment where everyone can thrive.

3. Be prepared to deal with inequality

Part of supporting diversity in the classroom is creating a safe space for students and educators to discuss how issues of discrimination affect them personally, in the classroom and at school.

The more diversity is a topic of discussion in your school, the less reluctant students and teachers are to engage.. As a school leader, you are able to lead the conversation and inspire action by others in the school.

This conversation should not be limited to words: to achieve effective change, you must take practical steps to address inequalities when you encounter them, such as:

  • Use language that encourages positivity and doesn't reinforce existing stereotypes. For example, the phrase "boys will always be boys" should not be used to justify sexism or aggression.
  • Respond immediately and effectively to inappropriate comments or actions. Take violations seriously and keep families informed.
  • Inclusion and acceptance model. Encourage students to involve all their peers when they see a racial or economic divide developing.
  • Remove existing inequality markers in your school. For example, ensure students who qualify for free and discounted lunchtime programs aren't singled out and feel different.

Fair is not the same: being fair means ensuring that every student has what they need to thrive personally and academically.As you lead the conversation and act, point out that discrimination is not tolerated at your school.

4. Connect with families and community

Schools are a central part of the community and should reflect and celebrate its diversity.

Share with families your goals for diversity in the classroom.Ask if they have any questions or concerns, and then listen. Ask them to identify areas in the curriculum or school culture that they think could benefit from a greater focus on diversity.

Connect with community leaders who can offer diverse perspectives, whether they are experts in their fields, professionals, community workers, or activists. Consider asking teachers to develop themselveslearning serviceProjects that combine classroom learning with community initiatives.

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As your students meet members of their community, they may see examples of people from different backgrounds succeeding in their fields and may be inspired to think differently about their own future.

Other ways to keep in touch and build relationships with families and neighbors:

  • Organize a community dinner party. Encourage students, family members, and neighbors to bring non-perishable groceries to donate to the local food bank.
  • Start a paper or email newsletterNotifying families of school news and events
  • Organize a parent or family eveningAs an opportunity to outline curriculum additions or special events, the school must encourage diversity

5. Meet different learning needs

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(Video) Teacher's Conference 2013 'Seven Ways to Promote Creativity in the Classroom' by Carol Read

One size fits all standard cannot be applied to a diverse classroom, so work with your teachers to develop different approaches for students with different learning needs. Some suggestions to ensure the classroom remains accessible and equitable:

  • Introduce adaptive technologies.adaptive technologiesMake learning accessible to all students. This can include anything from speech-to-text software, talking calculators for students with dyscalculia, or modified computer accessories for students with physical disabilities.
  • Encourage teachers to use different styles of teaching and teaching strategies.techniques likeproject based learning,differentiated teachingjhybrid learningAll allow teachers to help students with different needs. (For even more ideas on classroom teaching strategies, read ourDefinitive list of teaching strategies!)
  • Create opportunities for all students to get involved.Within the groups, have students take on different roles that reflect their strengths. Some students can act as notes while others can moderate the conversation.

6. Hire diversified

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The vast majority of teachers in the United States are white and female. Accordinglyfederal data, 81.6% of teachers are white while only 6.8% are black. In contrast, 47% of students are white while 16% are black.

on oneGraduated from Learning Policy Institute 2018, researchers found that black teachers improve the academic performance of black students.

As a school leader, you can directly impact the diversity of your faculty through hiring and recruitment efforts. Some of the study's suggestions for hiring a more diverse faculty include:

  • Establish district programs that recruit teachers from non-traditional programs and provide financial assistance and training.
  • Improve data systems that track diverse hiring efforts and reward schools that meet diversity requirements.
  • Hire early in the year to reach more in-demand candidates
  • Supporting school leader preparation programs, including actively recruiting teachers and supporting their professional development.

It's important to always hire the best candidate for the job, regardless of background. At the same time, work on challenging your prejudices and assumptions about what qualifies a candidate. A team that reflects the diversity in the classroom will expose its students with different ideas and teaching styles, thereby empowering them.

7. Support professional development opportunities

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Your teachers will likely handle most of the day-to-day efforts to promote diversity in the classroom. Offer resources for professional development to help them respond effectively to challenges and opportunities.

EmBlackstone Valley High School in Rhode Island, teachers go through specific professional development sessions that illustrate how structural inequalities exist in classroom dynamics and learn to elevate the students' voices above their own.

This is especially important considering his student body is economically diverse, and he intends to give at least half of his space to students who qualify for free or discounted lunches. With professional development, the teachers of this school are better prepared to face challenges and prejudices in themselves and in their students.

Here are some great resources and organizations to help you get started:

  • EdJustice National Education Association: Find inspiring stories and resources from educational equity activists, and ways you can take action in your community.
  • Beyond heroes and holidays: This resource is for teachers, principals, students, and parents. It provides a blueprint for building a culturally sensitive curriculum and includes in-service activities, instructional strategies, and provides an analysis of racial inequality in the current school system.
  • The Center for Culturally Responsible Teaching and Learningis an organization that provides schools, businesses and the general public with professional development opportunities to become culturally responsive by “moving away from a superficial focus on culture”. They offer half-day to multi-day workshops as well as online training and courses.
  • teach toleranceis an organization that “helps teachers and schools to educate children and young people to be active participants in a diverse democracy”. Emphasizing social justice and anti-prejudice, the program offers workshops in several major cities and free online resources. They also have a team of professional development instructors available to conduct school or district meetings.

Final Thoughts: Diversity in the classroom

Diversity is expressed in so many different ways that it can be daunting to start conversations about how to bring it into the classroom.

The good news? Your school is already full of students and staff with incredibly diverse backgrounds, skills and abilities! All you have to do is highlight this diversity.

Start slowly and deliberately. Don't be afraid to admit it if you don't know the answer, but always try to keep learning and growing. Listen to what others are saying around you and seek feedback and opportunities to continuously improve. Change doesn't happen overnight, but the most important step is to get started.

How Prodigy supports diversity

The Prodigy Education certified teachers who create the game's educational content have a strong focus on equity, diversity and inclusion.

From racially diverse names to choose from, to the ability for students to customize their avatars to look like them, to topics that transcend traditional gender norms, our educational content creators are always on the move to ensure the diverse group of students who play, including Prodigy, are truly represented and feel included and involved in their learning journey.

And if your students have Prodigy Math accounts, they can also edit their avatars after creation.

(Video) Kids and Church: 7 ways to respond when your child's beliefs differ from your own

See for yourself! Create or log in to your free teacher account on Prodigy- a game-based, standards-aligned, easy-to-use math learning platform for educators and students. It is used by millions of students and teachers.

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