In an increasingly diverse classroom, it is more important than ever for educators to approach their curriculum with attention to the racial, ethnic, cultural, and social class groups present. The primary role of a teacher is to provide equity of opportunity to learn for each student, a task that can prove challenging for a variety of foreseeable reasons. Utilizing the following strategies will assist educators in both applying and teaching skills that best serve the needs of all students.
Plan the course with a diverse classroom in mind by considering assignments, examples, stories, effects of videos in the context of potential classroom dynamics. When designing your curriculum, consider how various students could interpret the syllabus and what prior background information they may have been given. Make the material relatable and accessible to all students while anticipating sensitive subject matters. Be prepared to approach controversial topics openly, yet tactfully. This is not to say that the teacher should make assumptions about an individual based on any groups that the student may belong to, only that they would do best to exercise sensitivity. Paula Ferrera, a grade school teacher with a Bachelor’s in Health Education, warns against censoring certain subjects for fear of offending a group—it’s better, she says, for students to have a chance to discuss sensitive issues in an academic, tolerant environment where a teacher can be present to moderate. A course designed to generate a challenging learning process will allow students to develop and exercise their analytical, critical thinking, and debate skills in a safe and positive setting.
Be Clear About Classroom Expectations
The classroom should always be a place that is open for all students, regardless of conscious or unconscious biases. Make this clear and known from the first day of the course. Explain that it is a place for everyone’s voice to be activated and that each person will have the opportunity to contribute. However, make it known that insensitivity, scapegoating, ridiculing, and other unproductive arguments will not be tolerated. Teach each student as an individual and the classroom dynamics will be strengthened and improved quickly. In the event that a discussion or situation becomes negatively charged, recognize and learn how to intervene and manage effectively based on what the students involved respond to best.
Get Feedback from Parents
Handling parental complaints and suggestions can be difficult for any teacher, so it can be particularly challenging to manage all parental expectations in a diverse classroom. It may be difficult to implement certain curricula without offending a few parents, so it’s advisable for teachers to discuss their teaching plan with parents beforehand. Holding parent-teacher meetings before the semester starts will give you an opportunity to introduce your curricula to parents in an atmosphere of mutual respect and professionalism. If parents have any issues with what you plan to teach—or how you plan to teach it—they have the opportunity to discuss them with you beforehand. This, ideally, will prevent any unpleasant confrontations with parents over your teaching material further into the semester. Schedule regular parent-teacher conferences throughout the year with any concerned parents, to provide a time for discussion and a chance for them to give you some feedback on what they, as parents, want to see taught.
When instructors create a safe, vibrant, and inclusive classroom environment, the learning climate is improved for all students. As leaders and role models, it is critical for teachers to foster a culture of respect, tolerance, and inquiry in their pupils. Teachers should constantly be assessing and re-assessing their strategies and the influences they produce on learners. With the correct balance, teachers can adequately respond to the challenges presented in diverse classroom communities.