Schools are a place where children from different backgrounds come together, interact, and learn. Classrooms today are becoming increasingly diverse, and there is a greater need for a more inclusive learning environment. Creating a culturally responsive classroom generally enhances the learning experience. Learners will better understand and appreciate different cultures and everyone’s diverse backgrounds.
There are multiple ways a classroom can engender cultural responsiveness. Here are a few steps an educator can take to gradually achieve this:
- Know your students
Get to know your learners and their cultural backgrounds and learn from their experiences. Talking and listening to the students, surveys and interviews allow you to understand who they are. Also, you’ll appreciate your learners’ experiences and beliefs that have shaped their character. You can also keep tabs on their behavior changes and other events, such as a family crisis, that may influence their behavior in class.
- Study diversity
Take time to read insightful books and research different cultures. This activity will provide a better understanding and provide guidelines for a suitable classroom model. Use your knowledge and what you learn along the way to better understand your learners.
- Be self-aware
Be aware of your biases and their implications and find ways to eliminate them. Your personal attitudes and views towards certain groups may affect how you teach and even the learning outcomes.
- Class assignments
Assignments such as essay writing could provide a better understanding of learners’ backgrounds. Students express themselves better in writing. Also, writing allows you to establish student beliefs and values, behaviors, and thinking patterns. Class projects that involve the community will give learners an insight into different perspectives besides their traditional beliefs. Learners become more empathetic and appreciate people from backgrounds other than their own.
- Avoid stereotyping
This may come about knowingly or unknowingly and usually stems from preconceived notions about certain ethnicities. Stereotyping may influence an educator’s attitude towards certain learners and vice versa, which affects learning outcomes. Generally, stereotyping makes it difficult to create a culturally responsive classroom environment.
- Getting student names right
Knowing your learners’ names as well as proper pronunciation is important. Through this, you develop an appreciation for names from different ethnicities as well as make the learner feel included.
- Be conscious of language differences
Having a diverse classroom oftentimes means that not all students have English as their first language. Students may have accents and difficulty articulating their thoughts in English. It is therefore important to identify these limitations to avoid marginalizing learners.
Try to incorporate learners’ primary language in teaching while they learn the dominant language. This act may help make them feel included and promotes a culturally responsive classroom. Other learners may also learn different languages in the process.
Various cultural aspects surrounding a learner influence their performance in the classroom. The steps mentioned above can help towards creating a more culturally responsive classroom. There are other initiatives, such as an inclusive reward system and creating an interactive classroom, which can also be taken for better outcomes.