Creating Culturally Responsive, Inclusive Classrooms (Montgomery, 2008): A link to the full article is available here.
Having a culturally inclusive classroom is important anywhere in the world. Students need to feel like they belong and are at ease in the classroom to be able to function and learn within it. Isolating students through insensitive cultural practices or a lack of representation is detrimental to their emotional wellbeing, and their schooling outcomes.
In Australia, up to 40% of students have one parent born overseas and speak a language other than English at home. In all likelihood, there will be a large portion of students in our classes who need to be represented and taught with different, culturally sensitive techniques which are also beneficial for other students.
The article talks about reinforcing the fact that classrooms are culturally diverse, representing cultures in books and media, expanding knowledge of cultures, not making assumptions, open ended projects and questions, and conducting self-assessments are all parts of the techniques which are mentioned in the article to make our classrooms more accepting.
While these teaching techniques benefit culturally diverse students, all students gain beneficial interpersonal and social skills through these interactions and methods for creating a more inclusive classroom.
Differentiating the curriculum for teaching practices often conjures images of teachers spending time with individual students, and giving them work so that they can improve their weaknesses. Often, teachers do this for students who struggle academically – but what about differentiation in cultural practices? Does a teacher teach differently according to their audience?
As teachers, it is important to ask ourselves whether the content we are about to present is hostile or inappropriate for certain students in our class. Is it a good idea to show a film about refugees to a classroom full of students who may have experienced similar experiences to the ones in the hypothetical film?
As teachers we need to ask ourselves whether this content can elicit unwanted reactions from our students, and whether what is being presented is entirely true. If not, teachers may be doing more harm than good.
What are some of your techniques for classroom differentiation? Leave your comments below.