Educators must prepare themselves for diversity and inclusion. Every K-12 classroom should prepare to support cultural diversity. The class, despite grade level, should be culturally responsive to the needs of the school’s diverse population. To foster cultural awareness, educators will need to consider what influences’ students’ perceptions and behaviors as well as what motivates them. While many resources target how to develop educators’ cultural awareness skills, each educator is obligated to create a personal approach to ensure each student feels they belong. To prepare a classroom that supports all groups, educators must lead by example, foster empathy and emotion, promote equity and equality, and eliminate implicit and explicit bias.
Lead By Example – An educator should lead by example in the classroom. They should be honest and respectful as they build relationships with students while improving how they listen and react. An educator’s action enhances the learning environment. Their efforts give rise to a positive classroom culture as it shapes students’ behaviors while reducing the number of reprimands and consequences delivered within the learning environment.
Foster Empathy and Emotion – An educator should lead in discussing world news to build students’ empathy. They should also discuss with students their level of community commitment as students reflect on the many communities they are apart of. As educators are working to cultivate students’ empathy skills, they should also focus on project-based learning to develop students’ critical thinking skills. It is during this time; students will explore and create a more in-depth understanding of the world around them. By combining their community concerns and their desire to solve problems, students will be able to encompass a broad range of emotional states, thus improving their social and emotional skills.
Promote Equity and Equality– An educator should provide relevant teaching within the classroom. Relevant teaching will celebrate diversity and give students a voice. Providing relevance within the class provides culture context within the learning activity or lecture, which increases students’ level of engagement and academic achievement. By acknowledging students’ identities, experiences, race, gender, and ethnicity, the educator will be able to nurture students’ potential, emotional health, and talents.
Eliminate Implicit and Explicit Bias- Educators should eliminate prejudicial or unfair ideas about a specific group. They can do this by self-reflecting, developing empathy, as well as visiting other cultures and communities. By eliminating implicit (unconscious) bias and explicit (conscious) bias, students have the opportunity to succeed emotionally, socially, and academically.
- Read books that help you to cultivate your cultural awareness.
- Respectfully explore a culture that is different from yours.
- Restructure your content and classroom to benefit students from diverse backgrounds.
Additional resources that address how to prepare for cultural diversity can be found at edutopia.org