Every teacher must start aspiring for a culturally inclusive classroom. In this era where we thrive in cultural coexistence, the classroom is a good starting point.
Cultural diversity breeds cultural inclusivity. Of course, we now live in the world where we see different beliefs as part of our lives. Gone are the days when one could be burnt at the stake for indifference. This is the 21st century. Hence, accepting cultural differences makes up who we are now.
In effect, there is a need to be inclusive in this diverse environment. When it comes to inclusivity, it’s all about taking everybody in.
Cultural inclusivity starts from accepting cultural differences and working on these differences for the good of all.
A culturally inclusive classroom
How do we define a culturally inclusive classroom? It’s more than just a harmony of teacher and a bunch of students from different race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and beliefs.
Firstly, we need to set the parameters of what we need to be inclusive of. Students are different in one way or another.
Thus, this is what teachers and school leaders need to accept. Without identifying and accepting such parameters, this won’t lead to inclusivity.
One of the parameters is the differences in learning styles. These learning styles may emanate from the prior knowledge and skills of every student.
Next, social organizations contribute to the differences among students. It is important to look into the family or community background of the students. Most importantly, cultural practices and values define the bulk of a multicultural classroom that requires inclusivity.
Now, if we consider and accept all these factors, we are one step towards a culturally inclusive classroom. Then, this could help us form a culturally relevant pedagogy.
A culturally relevant pedagogy
From defining a culturally inclusive classroom, we now have to develop steps in achieving inclusivity through a culturally relevant pedagogy.
A culturally relevant pedagogy refers to educational principles that could help students achieve academic success. Consequently, this could develop cultural competence and critical consciousness to challenge the status quo.
In this kind of set up, we can try the following practices:
- A range of teaching and learning ways to address different needs
- Working on different groupings to ensure multicultural learning
- Directly teaching classroom procedures that are culturally sensitive
- Identifying different behaviors of the students and how to address them
- Knowing and celebrating customs and traditions of students
- Detecting racist messages
Hopefully, with these ways, teachers could promote cultural inclusiveness in their classrooms.
The potentials of culturally inclusive classrooms
Racism stems not from extreme differences but from ignorance. Accordingly, classrooms could help bridge the gap on this issue.
Admittingly, racism breeds other school and social issues like bullying and injustice. Hence, there is a need for an education system to foster values that could address these issues.
Certainly, words are not enough to address racial issues. We just can’t say “No to racism” and expect the world to change overnight. Thus, this must start with clear actions expressed and practiced in a culturally inclusive environment.
Aside from addressing racial issues, the learning opportunities in a culturally diverse environment are limitless. If we open up to learning directly from other people with their different perspectives, we could establish connections among the different realities around us.
Eventually, culturally inclusive classrooms may unlock the gates of knowledge and open up vast learning opportunities without boundaries.
Hoy, Anita Woolfolk, and Wayne K. Hoy. Instructional Leadership: A Research-based Guide to Learning in Schools. Boston: Pearson, 2013. Print.