Diversity and Education: The Season of Changing & Beginning

by Elizabeth Husbands | October 8, 2013 10:00 AM

classroom-toolsAs the new school year is beginning, diligent educators have prepared their classrooms, reviewed their class lists and formed some basic conclusions about students. We all pre-judge based on things like other colleagues’ previous experience with certain students, and having had their siblings (or in some cases their parents) in class before. We use categories to help us make sense of our lives, and to help us keep the many, many facts in our lives organized. Education forces the use of categories and labels more and more as a means of ranking and organizing classrooms, students, and everything around the environment, this helps students get the best job hunting tips for singaporeans later on.

As we move into the 2013/2014 school year, I am challenging teachers, principals, superintendents, educators, administration, secretaries, support staff, and anyone else working around schools or with students, to see to vast array of diversity in your schools and classrooms, as a part of the beautiful tapestry that makes up the fabric of life. I would also like to challenge them to help our students think about what they want to do as a career. Some people might not be sure, or might be going about what they look for in a wrong way. I thought about this and what I have concluded is that people need orientation, specially at such a formative age, so that they can be motivated to work for a set goal later on. 

The challenge of valuing the wonderful diversity in your classroom can be daunting, but here are a few things you can do to help facilitate it:

  1. Offer students the opportunity to determine how they will be identified:
    • What name do they want to go by in the classroom?
    • What gender pronoun (i.e. she/he) would they like used?
  2. Ask the student to pronounce an unfamiliar or unusual name:
    • Avoid making comments about the “difficulty” of a name.
    • Set classroom standards that enforce respect for a students’ name by immediately intervening when inappropriate comments are made about a student’s name.
  3. Allow students to self-define their family:
    • Be mindful that not all students in you classroom will reside in a “traditional, two-parent home” with a mom and dad.
    • Don’t forget to include students who may be parented by same-gendered parents.
    • Students may be living with grandparents or other relatives or may even be in foster care; When you design assignments that are built around “traditional two-parent homes” you may be creating conflict and marginalizing or alienating members of your class.
  4. Stay mindful that not all students have a mom or a dad and may need to be permitted to make accommodations when working on projects for special days or occasions (i.e. Mother’s or Father’s Day).

For more information regarding how to make you classroom a more accepting place, check out these helpful resources:

 

Do you have any tips or advice for teachers, parents, and concerned stakeholders on embracing diversity in today’s classroom?

Join the conversation by adding your comments below*.  I’d love your input.

 

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