In terms of physical appearance of the classroom, teachers should hang up cultural artifacts, infosheets and posters of the various cultures represented in the classroom. For example, red packets and lanterns could be hung up to represent Chinese New Year, and appropriate decorations could be placed on the walls to commemorate Eid Mubarak or Cinco de Mayo for Muslim and Hispanic students. Teachers should also put up charts that discuss these traditions, and explain why these traditions are so important. Such physical features of a classroom for teachers in a highly diverse school are important, as these teachers should expect students from various creeds, religions, national and ethnic backgrounds. Students may be of different skin colors, facial features and body sizes.
Furthermore, students should be taught that no matter their appearance, they should be proud of their identity, appearance and heritage, and that their values and performance matters more than their outward appearance. This can be achieved by having students draw themselves, and putting all of their drawings on the wall in one big collage, to show that they are a valued member of the classroom.
Another way in which the classroom can be structured to enhance collaboration among diverse students is to use tables which are hexagonal or circular in shape, and have students mixed up into groups and placed around these tables. This would intentionally encourage bonding and integration among students in the class, rather than a more traditional classroom setup where students sit at separate desks.
In terms of attitudes, teachers in a highly diverse school should adopt classroom teaching attitudes of patience, perseverance and an appreciation for cultural diversity. This is because students in a highly diverse school will by necessity come from a variety of different backgrounds and races, which necessitates an appreciation for cultural diversity. In addition, students from minority backgrounds may be marginalised and may need patience and perseverance to be coached effectively. Teachers can therefore create achievement charts that award students stars for achievements, no matter how big or small. This may include progress in their test scores, good behaviour or other such commendable behaviors. These achievement charts should be hung up on the walls in prominent places, with the student’s name and pictures, in order to encourage patience, perseverance and an appreciation for the value of each student in the classroom.
In terms of instructional practices, teachers should allow students to use their native languages, such as Spanish, to better understand concepts though. This can be achieved by creating ELL charts with Spanish or Chinese words to cater to the needs of minority race students. Teachers should also encourage discussion and sharing of concepts and ideas by equipping students with whiteboards, Sharpie markers and post-it notes to brainstorm and collaborate. Finally, teachers should set high expectations in highly diverse schools, especially for minority race or marginalised identity students, because this will encourage them to strive harder and perform better in their academics. This can be achieved by having students set their own goals for the academic year, and then encouraging them to hang it up in the classroom. Teachers should finally also be aware of the different dynamics among the different racial or ethnic groups in the class, and strive to promote inclusion and integration among students of different backgrounds in a highly diverse school.
Finally, in terms of cultural appreciation, each week, a new culture will be appreciated as part of a classroom cultural appreciation series, in the form of posters, food and class presentations. Students will be invited to share about their ethnic, religious or national culture in the form of history, food or presentation sharings, and in doing so, students in a highly diverse school will be encouraged to present themselves more confidently, empowered to voice their identities, and pushed to better understand the identities of others. The presentations, posters and photos should also be pinned up around the classroom to inspire others to constantly appreciate the value of diversity in a classroom.
In an increasingly globalised and diverse world, an effective teacher in a highly diverse school is increasingly important. In terms of physical appearance, attitudes, instructional practices and cultural appreciation, teachers in highly diverse schools should strive to build inclusive and purposeful classrooms settings that will allow their students from diverse backgrounds to thrive, grow, learn and succeed.
Alernan, Delfino, Joseph F. Johnson Jr, and Lynne Perez. “Winning schools for ELLs.” Educational Leadership 66, no. 7 (2009): 66-69.
Gregory, Anne, and Rhona S. Weinstein. “The discipline gap and African Americans: Defiance or cooperation in the high school classroom.” Journal of School Psychology 46, no. 4 (2008): 455-475.
Milner, H. Richard. “Culturally relevant pedagogy in a diverse urban classroom.” The Urban Review 43, no. 1 (2011): 66-89.
Shingle for diverse classroom
Description of Shingle: The shingle sets out a series of rules, values and commitments to protect and uphold the importance of a respect for and devotion to diversity within a diverse classroom.