The new school year is back in full swing, and we want everyone in the classroom to feel included. Promoting our differences can be a touchy subject, but it is extremely important. All students are different in their own unique ways, which means their learning needs can be different too.
So why is diversity and inclusivity in the classroom so important? It helps educate kids about the society we live in with many different ethnicities, orientations, abilities and how to be aware of all our different unique qualities and building compassion for everyone.
Encouraging kids to be themselves and celebrating their differences creates better thinkers, supports self-growth, self-esteem, identity and makes them feel welcomed as part of the group. It provides tools they need to be the best learners – and people – they can be. Raising awareness about issues in society in a way children can understand can promote diversity. Teaching values like kindness, inclusion, and educating kids on how they can be sensitive to other people’s feelings when it comes to physical and non-physical differences can influence them to grow up to be positive leaders and members of their community.
Here are some ways to make your classroom more inclusive and promote diversity with your students:
- Invite kids to have a “culture day” and encourage them to learn more about their heritage. Bringing stories, objects, pictures, or books about their culture is a fun way for students to learn more about themselves and their peers.
- Host open discussions about injustices they have experienced, and brainstorm ways to help fight inequality in the classroom and in their personal lives.
- Take field trips to cultural and historic events and places in the community.
- Invite speakers and advocates to your classroom that have first-hand experiences to share about diversity and inclusion.
- Asking for feedback and ideas from fellow colleagues can help ensure you are growing as an educator.
- Offering diverse reading materials featuring distinct cultures, languages, beliefs, and abilities can help them feel represented, appreciated, and understood. Make sure these materials are offered in different forms to accommodate different learning styles, such as audio, physical, and visual forms of learning.
- Participate in writing letters with global pen pal programs to connect students with other students just like them, across the world!
Inclusion Teaching Strategies
Diversity and inclusion in the classroom also mean assisting students who may have a more challenging time learning than others and providing them the tools they need to succeed. Meeting with parents and kids and getting to know your students to find resources that help them thrive is necessary to help them reach their goals. These needs can be different for every child.
- For some students, learning challenges are caused by a lack of ability to focus, and sensory toys are a clever way to help get their fidgets out.
- Sometimes students just need a break from their day, and a quiet peaceful space can really help them relive stress and unwind
- Noise sensitivity can also be an issue, so giving students resources to block out the noise while focusing on reading or other tasks can help them collect their focus
- Make yourself approachable to talk to about different learning styles, needs, and accessibility to solutions.
- Offer alternative seating arrangements for students with difficulty sitting still
- Communicating with kids and communicating with their parents to help build meaningful relationships and to find out what learning resources they may need.
Teachers contribute to shaping the minds of today’s kids and turning them into great future leaders. By hosting activities, having conversations, and encouraging more personal growth, we can build a more inclusive and diverse environment for all learners. It is important to make sure we applaud positive behaviours and use the classroom as a safe space for all students – regardless of what they look like, where they come from or how they learn!