When you think of diversity, multiculturalism may be the first thing that comes to mind. After all, Canada is known for being a multicultural nation. But when we talk about diversity in the classroom we need to go beyond cultural differences. Diversity in the classroom may include:
- Students coming from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) students
- Students with learning and physical disabilities
- Students with different learning styles
- Gifted students
And although there are schools that are able to provide adequate extra support in the classrooms for some of these types of students, there are many teachers handling such diverse classrooms on their own.
So here we’ll give you 3 ways to manage diversity in the classroom:
1. Highlight the diversity of your classroom to the students
Teach your classroom what diversity means and how it is manifested in their own classroom. A great lesson could include choosing a few different students who represent such diversity (if they’re open to it – don’t put them on the spot!). Then highlight how each of those students adds something valuable and unique to the classroom. For example, we’ve written about religious tolerance in the classroom:
You could then pair up students (as the teacher you may need to use your discretion here to pair up students you know will have notable diversity differences, for the purposes of this activity). Give them a simple questionnaire so they get to know each other. They could then do a mini presentation about the uniqueness of their partner. The key here is for students to value their diverse classroom and therefore, their peers. This may create inclusiveness within the classroom.
And, this can especially be effective depending on the location and demographics of the school, as education in the suburbs and the city can be different. We’ve written about this topic here:
2. Get to know your students and build relationships with them
In order for teachers to be inclusive with their lesson plans, they need to get to know their students. Depending on the kids’ age, teachers could ask them to keep a weekly journal at school. If the kids are younger, a thematic journal of drawings may also give teachers insight into students’ lives. It could be assigned with themes, depending on the need seen in the classroom.
Not only would it be free writing practice, but it may give teachers insight into the student’s life outside school. A strong bond of trust may be formed if students realize their journal is something shared between them and their teacher. Through this, they can manage diversity in the classroom based on issues at hand.
3. Provide an array of different learning tools
Nowadays, technology plays a key role in students’ learning. Edutopia.org has a great article on 100+ Tools for Differentiating Instruction Through Social Media. Essentially, these tools help teachers manage diverse learning styles based on students’ profiles: their interests, abilities, learning levels, and struggles. Thus, incorporating such tools in a diverse classroom may give teachers a great way to meet the learning needs of all their students.
For more on social media tools check out our blogs on these topics:
For more on teaching based on learning styles, check out these posts on our blog:
- Temple Grandin: an example of how to teach kids based on their way of thinking
- How Parents and Tutors Can Help Children Recognize Their Learning Styles
- Spending one-on-one time with your child to figure out how they learn
- Learning how your child learns: making the assessment
- Math Tutoring Tips for Children with Different Learning Styles
- Adaptive learning: is this the future of education?
- A Winning Tutoring Team: Parent, Student and Tutor Collaboration
To conclude, diversity in the classroom needs to be fully understood and embraced by both teacher and students. A positive and open-minded classroom atmosphere is key for a teacher to implement inclusive lesson plans. If such a mindset is created from the start, then managing a diverse classroom will be successful.