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Preparing for Cultural Diversity: Resources for Teachers

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How can teachers effectively engage students from diverse backgrounds? It's a question many teachers face at the beginning of the school year, and of course, there isn't one prescribed strategy that works. Luckily, there are many useful resources to help new and veteran educators explore the subject.

If you're looking for a starting point, How Can We Prepare Teachers to Work With Culturally Diverse Students and Their Families? (an article from the Family Research Project at Harvard University) features insightful advice and useful tips from leading diversity education specialists. These researchers agree on the underlying message that communication plays an integral role; you'll also find insight into preparation and information about connecting with students and building relationships with families.

Two other sources of inspiration are Yvonne Pratt-Johnson's article Communicating Cross-Culturally: What Teachers Should Know and this book excerpt from ASCD's Diverse Teaching Strategies for Diverse Learners. In addition to these articles, here are a few other resources that will help educators develop inclusive learning environments and approach race, gender equality, empathy, and bullying prevention during class.

  • Resources for Multicultural Classrooms (Teaching Tolerance): Produced by The Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance’s classroom resources page offers free lesson plans for exploring topics like race and ethnicity, gender equality, and sexual orientation with students. For specific teaching practices, start with Teaching Tolerance's Critical Practices for Anti-Bias Teaching, a self-paced, four-part, professional development learning program.

  • Awareness Activities ( The EdChange-produced Multicultural Pavilion is a wonderful assortment of resources for educators. This Awareness Activities collection provides plenty of engaging ideas and activities to introduce diversity at the beginning of the school year. Don't miss the Teacher's Corner for curriculum ideas, strategies, and much more.

  • Teaching Diverse Learners (Brown University): This website is "a resource dedicated to enhancing the capacity of teachers to work effectively and equitably with English-language learners (ELLs)." You'll find great practical teaching strategies, ideas for engaging elementary ELLs, and tips for reaching out to families.

  • Lesson Plans and Resources (Teaching for Change): Teaching for Change is a nonprofit, with a mission of providing "teachers and parents with the tools to create schools where students learn to read, write, and change the world." The site features thoughtful and engaging lesson plans, tips for addressing race and diversity in the class, and links to great teacher resources.

  • Lesson Plans and Resources for Multiculturalism and Diversity: Scholastic produced this collection of resources for teachers. Along with some engaging lesson plans, there are also plenty of articles featuring tips and strategies to help educators engage students and families from diverse backgrounds. Connect With Kids and Parents of Different Cultures is a great place to start.

  • Strategies for Teaching Culturally Diverse Students: This TeacherVision-produced article is full of useful and ready-to-use tips for welcoming and engaging diverse students. Discover more useful ideas and lesson plans in TeacherVision's Diversity Resources for Teachers collection.

  • Resource Library (Inclusive Schools Network): This library is rich with resources covering a range of topics on diversity, with a focus on creating equity for students with disabilities. Start with the Inclusion Basics, which provides a great overview of creating an inclusive classroom. The Culturally Responsive Teaching resource page offers great ideas, tips, and strategies for reaching culturally diverse students with disabilities. You can also dig deeper into subjects like assessment, collaboration, and working with families.

More From Edutopia

You'll find a trove of insightful articles on Edutopia. Check out the Culturally Responsive Teaching page for additional resources. Here are a few popular blog posts from Edutopia writers:

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BrassyLass's picture

Wow! This is a fantastic collection of information! I just happened to stumble upon this article amongst many others while browsing the internet, but this one was the most thorough when it comes to the sheer amount of useful educational material. As an educator, I am always looking for new ways to educate myself into becoming a better teacher for my students. I feel that there is always room to grow and learn, even long after our standard K-12 years are gone. Thank you for taking the time in creating this post. I will thoroughly enjoy discovering, and learning, the new information that you have presented.

Catherine Browning's picture
Catherine Browning
e-Learning Education Analyst at VIF International Education

As all of you have mentioned, a sense of cultural awareness and intercultural competence is becoming increasingly important for educators in our interconnected world. Gaining a sense of cultural awareness can impact the way that we, as educators, understand our students and also affect the way that our students understand their peers.
At VIF International Education,, our mission is to develop and foster these global learning opportunities. We believe that it is important for educators to incorporate cultural differences and cross-cultural learning opportunities for students, and so we have developed extensive resources that help educators do just that.

Check out as another great resource for educators to gain global professional development opportunities and find extensive global curriculum resources that can easily be incorporated to teach and learn alongside your students!

Catherine Browning - e-Learning Education Analyst at VIF
VIF website:
Twitter: @VIFprogram or @VIFLearn
Facebook: VIF International Education or VIF Learn

Carol Matthews's picture

Diverse learners need certain things to make the learning experience effective for them. As a college instructor, I find applying a learning centered model supports the function of learning for these students. In order the meet the needs of the diverse learner the schools must provide the most supportive learning context. The context must be of value and understand the differences and needs of a diverse learner.
In developing learner centered models we must meet the individual learner needs, while applying a focus on learning. This dual focus then informs and drives educational decision making.

Carol Matthews's picture

Schools are intended to be learning systems that serve not only the student but the teacher. The school serves as the basic function, a place for children to learn, but also a place for teachers to learn about the diverse student. In both cases, schools are the place where the learning process is supported and students learn from teachers and teachers learn from students their heredity, experiences, perspectives, backgrounds, talents, interests and needs. In doing so, they are able to teach the best and effective methods in promoting the highest level in motivation and achievement in all students.

studentteacher97's picture

As a student studying in my multicultural class I was excited to find your blog! You have a wonderful set of web links to go through to help prepare me for my own classroom some day. I hope to be able to create a sense of community within my own room someday and feel that these ideas will certainly help.

Emily.IWU's picture

I am in a transition to teach program through IWU (IN Wesleyan) and I was happy to come across this blog because it provides several linked resources and articles for new teachers. It is important for beginning teachers to understand the responsibility of creating a class culture that is open to multicultural influences from the various students that will be a part of the community. The articles listed about provide great insight for just that. Thank you for sharing!

Dr. Jennifer Davis Bowman's picture
Dr. Jennifer Davis Bowman
Adjunct Professor of Education

I just found this article and find the information very helpful. Specifically, I plan to review the "Awareness Activities" you've referenced. Thank you for sharing concrete strategies for addressing our ever-changing classroom population. I've written about how diversity impacts our classroom management decisions before:

I feel that the resources you present here will help steer us in the right direction.

Azar Aftimos's picture

A resourceful article that will help everyone to promote accepting diversity. Thank you very much for sharing and addressing such an important issue that touches humanity.

LVillasenor's picture

I am so glad I found this article filled with priceless resources to support and celebrate my culturally diverse classroom. I believe that students need to learn how to accept and value other student's unique and diverse backgrounds to build a strong sense of community and expand upon their own knowledge of the world, people and cultures. I really appreciated the hyperlinks in this article that definitely got my ideas flowing as far as planning, implementing and even assessing lessons. By far, I will be using and adapting the lessons found on "Teaching Tolerance." I especially liked how the lessons include the big idea, essential questions and easy to follow instructions and descriptions as to how the end product will be like.
Moreover, fostering an acceptance of diversity in the classroom will only positively impact student-teacher relationships, especially if students know that the teacher has a genuine interest in their cultures. As a 5th grade teacher, I find that my students are incredibly receptive and open to talking about themselves, their family members and the community around them. They love the idea of having a one-on-one time with the teacher to be "interviewed." Additionally, building rapport with your students can prove effective when it comes to motivating reluctant learners. I have found that these learners open up when you ask them about something outside of school. I'll ask, "How was your soccer game? Did your team win?" Their eyes light up and begin to tell me. Sometimes, these kids just need a friendly ear willing to listen to their home life and interests.

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