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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, 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 (EdChange.org): 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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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:

http://edge.ascd.org/blogpost/classroom-management-what-are-the-odds-wer...

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.

Debra Woods's picture

How might teachers adjust their teaching to be more effective for those students who are diverse learners?

lette_ang's picture

I think these resources would be great and meaningful for whatever experienced teacher or new in the teaching area. Since cultural diversity is the thing that every teacher is going to face and deal with the problem in the classroom. In order to make children's better understanding of those words such as race, stereotype, and diversity; teacher plays important role in it.

lette_ang's picture

Never thought about what does school mean for teachers before, this is really a good point. Teachers are also learning when they get along with diverse students, they could enhance and get lots achievement and methods during the process of learning; then give the best and effective methods for students.

lette_ang's picture

I totally agree. As a teacher, we should make every student feel each other's culture is respectful and unique and build this kind of concept from their young age.

lette_ang's picture

Yes, I agree with that make students learning how to accept and value other student's unique and diverse backgrounds would be highly important in the classroom. Most of the teachers on their way of doing this, and I believe the cultural diversity things in the classroom is going a way in the right direction.

lette_ang's picture

As a student of the education major, I would add those resources to my favorites and keep in mind as much as possible. Hopefully one day in my classroom, I could set a series my own methods for dealing better with diversity in the classroom.

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