I teach at a school that has certainly changed its demographics in the last ten years. Who hasn’t? The question I am pondering is: What are we doing to prepare our students for this diverse world? The latest Census Bureau projects that the U.S. minority population will become the majority with non-Hispanic whites making up only 40% of the U.S. population. There is no doubt that students will need to learn how to interact in a diverse environment. They will be the better for it. Jean Snell, clinical professor of teacher education at the University of Maryland, believes cultural diversity enhances the school experience, too. “There is a richness that comes from students working side by side with others who are not of the same cookie-cutter mold,” she notes.
Students who attend schools with a diverse population can develop an understanding of the perspectives of children from different backgrounds and learn to function in a multicultural, multiethnic environment. Yet, as public schools become more diverse, demands increase to find the most effective ways to help all students succeed academically as well as learn to get along with each other. Teachers are faced with the challenge of making instruction “culturally responsive” for all students while not favoring one group over another. A study by Public Agenda and the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality found that 76% of new teachers say they were trained to teach an ethnically diverse student body but fewer than 4 in 10 say their training helps them deal with the challenges they face. read more about this need for professional development in the article linked below.
This article really highlighted for me the fact that we as educators must look at the fact that our classrooms have changed and one one of the ways that it has is in its diversity. We need to see this as an opportunity to add such richness to our classroom converastions and as a tool by which we increase students’ perspectives. As this article linked below states, teacher training is an important element in seizing and embracing these differences. Thought my colleagues might enjoy reading.