by Alexa Lopez
English Education graduate student, University of Florida
The United States is becoming more diverse – and so are our classrooms.
As future teachers, we must make sure that our classrooms are inclusive environments where cultures are respected and celebrated. By doing this, we will not only motivate our diverse students and help them better adjust to the American culture, but we will also be helping all our students become well-rounded global citizens.
Also, remember that multicultural students will not be the only ones in your classroom experiencing stressors related to diversity that will affect them academically. All students come from unique backgrounds and, as a result, have varied expectations of the college classroom that are grounded in their communities, families and previous academic experiences.
Tips to consider in developing a classroom that recognizes cultural differences
- Get to know your students.
- Be patient and understanding.
- Be aware of phrasing questions that can put these students on the spot.
- Consider inviting significant family or community persons to work with underachieving students.
- Familiarize yourself with studies that offer the ethnic students’ personal views of the academic environment.
- Be accessible.
Further readings and resources
- McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, pages 151-169
- UF Teaching Center’s “Diversity in the Classroom” workshop
- UF College of Education’s ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Professional Development Workshop
- UF Counseling and Wellness Center: http://counseling.ufl.edu/cwc/diversity.aspx
- Introduce diverse students to on-campus organizations: http://multicultural.ufl.edu
Alexa Lopez is a student in Mass Communication Teaching and in the English Education ProTeach program.