There are scores of diverse schools in your area. Real schools that teach the three R’s—reading, writing, and arithmetic. And the culture of these schools strictly believes the major reason children go to school is to learn the three R’s.
On the flip side, there is an increasingly fragmented society. A diverse society—where the skill to connect, work, and live with unique individuals is integral. A society where critical thinking, empathy, and unique thinking reign supreme.
Then, re-picture—this time around, with your school in mind.
Does your school’s culture promote diversity education? Is your teaching addressing and embracing the reality of living and working in diverse schools, communities, and counties? More importantly, are you releasing society-ready individuals to the community?
Tough questions to address, right?
You’re not alone, though. One of the most frequently asked questions by educators and school districts is: How can I promote diversity in my school?
To answer that question with a clear action plan, let’s start from the basis.
Diversity is anything that differentiates people from each other. It entails factors like:
Diversity in the classroom is the understanding that each student brings unique experiences, ideas, and strengths to the school.
Why Is Diversity in Education so Important?
Both non-formal and formal interracial interactions encourage cross-ethnic friendship. As a result, interethnic anxiety lowers, developing respect and positive attitudes among students.
Exposure to diverse backgrounds and perspectives improves student’s thinking skills. Science says that people tend to think harder when talking to someone different from them.
What’s more, it’s evident that socially diverse groups show students to appreciate different perspectives and draw stronger conclusions.
Even more, diversity challenges educators to incorporate different perspectives in lesson plans that teach students how to interact with their peers on social levels and equip them with skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
A diverse classroom setting develops individuals who have a greater sense of civic engagement. And schools that implement multicultural education provide exposure that prepares students to become better citizens in their communities.
A diverse classroom environment has positive outcomes both socially and academically. However, what does diversity in the classroom look like in action? How can you promote differences in cultures, backgrounds, perspectives, and beliefs to create a feeling of inclusion?
Your first step to integrating diversity into your school is employing a culturally responsive teaching strategy. This entails recognizing the importance of including student’s cultural references in your teaching materials.
For example, many humanity or social-science lessons are often limited to Western, white, males, and middle-class narratives. The curriculum doesn’t always address different backgrounds or show understanding of a wide range of voices.
Work with your teachers to formulate culturally responsive lessons. If it’s literature, you can teach from an author of color. When it’s history time, you can examine which voices are missing for inclusion of all backgrounds.
If you teach or administer a middle school, introduce new lessons like learning about homelessness or second language practice.
More importantly, you can use your leadership position in the school district to influence change of the whole-school model.
All students in your school are unique, and that fact alone is enough to encourage diversity in school cultures. However, you need an understanding of their backgrounds.
Take your time, and start learning. Learn:
With every task at hand, it might be difficult to find time to build relationships with students—especially if you’re new to the leadership position or school. You can use other means like:
Knowing and understanding your students’ strengths and weaknesses lets you devise an approach to encourage diversity in a classroom setting.
Addressing inequality is an excellent way to support diversity.
Create an environment where students and educators share how discrimination issues affect them on a personal, classroom, and school-wide level. The more students and teachers talk about diversity; the less they’ll hesitate to address it.
Use your position as a school leader to lead a conversation and inspire others to follow. Don’t limit the conversation to words. Take practical steps when you encounter inequality such as:
However, fairness shouldn’t mean sameness—instead, it should ensure every student has everything they need to succeed personally and academically.
Schools are integral to the community.
Communicate your goal for diversity with parents and stakeholders in the community. Ask and listen to their concerns. Then, invite parents to identify areas in your school’s culture that could benefit from more focus on diversity.
Next, reach out to the leaders in the community that can offer different perspectives either as experts in the field, professionals, community workers, or activists.
You can then ask your teacher to develop a service planning project to connect classroom studies with the community’s initiative. During the project, your students will meet community members and draw out life lessons from how people from different backgrounds interact and succeed in their field, inspiring others to think differently about their future.
You can also connect with parents and the community by:
#5. Meet Diverse Learning Styles and Need
A diverse classroom cannot use uniform standards, especially for students with different learning needs. You’ll need multiple learning styles.
For example, you can:
Introduce Adaptive Technologies, which gives students with physical or learning disabilities the support they need to enter the lesson alongside their peers. It might entail speech-to-text software, talking calculators for students with dyscalculia, or modified computer accessories for persons with physical disabilities.
Encourage teachers to use different teaching strategies like project-based learning, differentiated instruction, and blended learning to the classroom culture to meet the needs of different students.
Federal data says that 81% of teachers are white while 6.8% are black. In contrast, 47% of students are white, and 16% are black. And according to a recent study, having a teacher of color increases the academic performance of students of color.
You can directly impact the diversity of your teaching staff through hiring and recruitment efforts as the school leader. A staff that reflects diversity in class will expose your student to different ideas and teaching styles.
However, only hire the best candidate for the position regardless of their background.
Diversity is here with us to stay. In fact, 10 years from now, American classes will be more diverse than they are now.
That begs the need to develop a more inclusive curriculum. A complete, evidence-based multicultural curriculum for either preschool, elementary school, public schools, or high school students with tangible outcomes like:
Positive Action gives all the above outcomes. Hear straight from schools that have got tangible results.
Enroll in the training program today because even the US Department of Education found the program exemplary and promising. Schedule a webinar with us by clicking the banner below.