As the 2016-2017 school year goes into full swing, many teachers are faced with the challenge of discovering ways to connect with culturally diverse students and their families to ensure scholastic success. There are many factors at school that affect the success of culturally diverse students – the school's atmosphere and overall attitudes toward diversity, involvement and support of the community, and a culturally responsive curriculum, to name a few. Of all of these factors, the personal and academic relationships between teachers and their students may be the most influential. As a result, teachers from across the nation have shared insight on what has helped foster their relationships with a culturally diverse classroom.
Be Culturally Aware
A teacher being able to identify similarities and variances in culture will help them to be more effective in respecting and valuing cultural diversity. Acknowledging cultural diversity enthusiastically and with a positive manner, will initiate effective and open communication. Respect for cultural differences, when modeled by the teacher can help reinforce a positive environment for diverse students.
Effective teachers will connect with their students by understanding their life circumstances outside of school as well as in the classroom. By discovering what the student's life is beyond school, the teacher will be able to adapt lessons and provide meaningful comparisons in their lesson plans that are far more engaging to the student.
Teach Classroom etiquette
While some students may be more attuned to what behavior and talk is appropriate in the classroom and what is not, others are often not as aware. Cultures can vary significantly in what their "at home" behavior looks like compared to what is acceptable in school. Teachers have an opportunity to communicate and discuss how each behavior is valued and useful in a particular setting and help students learn to adjust their behavior to match the appropriate settings in which they interact.
Students from all walks of life may struggle with self-esteem. Teachers have a unique opportunity to provide increased opportunities that positively reinforce a student's strengths. Such opportunities can enhance a student's motivation to learn and achieve.
Independence can take on many forms in the classroom. It is an important attribute in shaping the student's ability to learn responsibility. Asking questions, evaluating their own work, and, performing in front of class are all examples of independence in the classroom, and should be acknowledged with positive reinforcement.
Provide Frequent Feedback
Feedback at multiple levels is preferred. For example, acknowledging a correct response is a form of brief feedback, while prompting a student who has given an incorrect answer by providing clues or repeating or rephrasing the question is another level. The teacher may also give positive feedback by stating the appropriate aspects of a student's performance. Finally, the teacher may give positive corrective feedback by making students aware of specific aspects of their performance that need work, reviewing concepts and asking questions, making suggestions for improvement, and having the students correct their work.