More and more schools, colleges, and universities are committing themselves to promoting inclusion and diversity issue awareness to both students and faculty members. Regardless of the subject of the course being taught, there are certain things that teachers can do to the classroom and their approach to be more welcoming and inclusive to their students. Here is a basic guide to start taking necessary steps to creating an inclusive classroom and teaching diversity.
What is diversity?
Diversity means a lot of different things. In the classroom, diversity means understanding that each student has a different experience, ideas and strengths, and respecting and encouraging those viewpoints. The differences stem from dimensions of sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, socio-economic status, age, ability, or political beliefs. Diversity is understanding these differences, exploring them with respect, and incorporating them into the classroom to have a richer learning experience.
Why does it matter in the classroom?
Students go to school with varied experiences and backgrounds. Educators and teachers are responsible for making sure that students can work in diverse workplaces and collaborate and respect others that have different and new perspectives. When these are incorporated in teaching and students are given different ways to look at a discipline, they become better prepared for a diverse workforce.
What is inclusivity in the classroom?
Having Inclusive classrooms means that the teachers have an understanding of the diversity of their students and work with them to have a collaborative, safe, and respectful learning experience. Course content is shared in many different ways and allows students to share their experiences if willing.
How to bring diversity to the classroom?
There are many ways to bring diversity to the classroom depending on what you want your students to get from it. As per Helen Norrey, an educator at Let’s Go And Learn and SimpleGrad, bringing diversity to the classroom “means bringing different perspectives to the curriculum and sharing with students the differences in cultures and background in a safe environment without judgment, and inviting them to share in their experiences if comfortable.”
Some advice to teachers who are seeking to teach diversity in an inclusive manner would be to observe, investigate, and most of all, not make assumptions. Some teachers unintentionally have societal and cultural biases and they are unaware of the microaggressions created in the classroom. It’s very important to be aware. Teachers have to observe different groups of people and make investigations instead of assuming certain things. They have to be aware and respond to diverse cultures in class instead of pretending cultural blindness.
It’s also important for teachers to reflect on themselves and avoid perpetuating stereotypes. For example, students have shared experiences where they have had their intellectual capabilities questioned or their ability to attend elite schools simply based on skin color. Monica Islington, a teacher at My Writing Way and Via Writing, explains to others that “teachers must be constantly on aware of their thoughts and reflect on them, in addition to their feelings and their actions in the classroom, particularly when they’re handling a situation involving children from different backgrounds. This helps to prevent the reinforcement of stereotypes.”
In truth, everyone is human and brings their own individual cultural biases to the table. That’s why teachers have to reflect on their thoughts and feelings about students from other backgrounds, and not stop at just saying they respect everyone. For example, even if a student comes from a poorer school, a teacher must consider whether they still have high expectations.
They should also reflect on this during parent-teacher days, and have to be aware of how they phrase their questions to the parents which will be sensitive to gaps between home culture and school and respect those gaps. For example, if a teacher is speaking to a parent from a poor background comparatively speaking, they should not be assuming that they have access to the same resources.
At the end of the day, teachers should be treating students not only as individuals but also as part of different cultural groups with many differences to be celebrated. The differences that make each person unique must be recognized and observed.
Aimee Laurence, a tutor at UKWritings.com and Essayroo Review, writes many articles on education and the modern world. She is interested in modernizing the curriculum in schools to be more in line with current beliefs and social developments. Aimee also works as a freelance editor on Assignment Writer.
Many teachers I know live with fear. They fear failing their students. They fear angering vocal parents. They fear the judgment of their colleagues. But above all, many teachers fear a poor evaluation from an administrator that leads to the loss of their job and puts their teaching career in jeopardy.
This fear is why so many teachers are nervous when their principal walks in the room. It’s why they can’t sleep the night before an observation. It’s why they keep a close eye on the economy, state funding, and the financial health of their district. And it’s why so many teachers are afraid to speak up about harmful policies, unrealistic expectations, the misuse of data, and systemic exploitation.
Teachers can never fully bulletproof their careers. Because we work for a government entity that receives funding from the state, we’ll always be at the mercy of recessions and budget cuts. Because we work for other people, we’ll always be vulnerable to petty tyrants, budget-slashing Superintendents, and office politics. Still, there are simple things teachers can do to protect themselves from poor evaluations, dismissals, and layoffs. Here are seven things every teacher can do to make their career as bulletproof as possible.
1. Provide Uncommon Value
You don’t need to sign up for every committee and attend every after-school event to ensure that your principal values you enough that you’re never vulnerable to layoff. You don’t need to be a yes-man or a suck-up. But if you want to bulletproof your career, you should stand out from the crowd by providing uncommon value. When supervisors think of their building without you in it, they should wonder how you’ll be replaced.
Perhaps you’re the go-to person for making the specials schedule and the job would fall to your principal if you didn’t do it. Maybe you’re the disciplinarian, dealing with student misbehavior so the principal doesn’t have to do it all. You could have one major project that you do every year that is valued by the school and the community, such as Career Day or an annual Make a Difference Day project. Become known for one important extra and you’ll make it much harder for your principal to envision a day when you’re not there.
2. Be Likable (or at least not unlikable)
Most people hold the erroneous view that competence is what determines career success. They believe that those who are better at their jobs will be rewarded and those who don’t get results will be dinged on their evaluations. But research suggests that it isn’t true. While everyone would love to work with a charismatic star and no one can stand an incompetent jerk, things get murkier when it comes to choosing between capable assholes and lovable slackers. Professors Tiziana Casciaro and Miguel Sousa Lobo found that while many employers say competence matters most, their actions reveal the opposite. Writing for the Harvard Business Review, the professors stated:
“Personal feelings played a more important role in forming work relationships—not friendships at work but job-oriented relationships—than is commonly acknowledged. They were even more important than evaluations of competence. In fact, feelings worked as a gating factor: We found that if someone is strongly disliked, it’s almost irrelevant whether or not she is competent; people won’t want to work with her anyway. By contrast, if someone is liked, his colleagues will seek out every little bit of competence he has to offer. And this tendency didn’t exist only in extreme cases; it was true across the board. Generally speaking, a little extra likability goes a longer way than a little extra competence in making someone desirable to work with.”
Researchers have also found that the more likable a physician is, the less likely he or she is to be sued for medical malpractice, and that you’re more likely to get hired if you focus on being liked by prospective employers than if you highlight your skills. People want to work with likable people. If it comes down to laying teachers off, it won’t matter how good of a teacher you are if everyone despises you.
3. Make Students and Parents Happy
The more liked you are by students and parents, the riskier it will be for administrators to let you go. Schools hate negative press, and nothing generates negative press like when students and parents pitch a public fit over the loss of a popular teacher. News organizations eat that stuff up. To bulletproof your career, focus on pleasing your “clients,” the students and parents you serve, to such an extent that they will show up at Board meetings to speak on your behalf. Be the teacher who garners the most parent requests. Be the teacher who, if let go, will engender an emotional response from the community and lead to Facebook rants and news stories. Be the kind of teacher who administrators wouldn’t dare fire because they know what kind of hell will rain down on them if they do.
4. Complain Laterally
I thought about writing, “Don’t Complain” here, but I’ve been a teacher for 20 years and I’ve only met about three teachers who never complained, which leads me to believe complaining is probably rational, unavoidable, and maybe even a healthy way to alleviate stress. Given the state of public education today, I also have to wonder if those who don’t complain are paying attention.
All that said, nobody really likes a complainer. That includes principals. And if principals have to decide who gets kicked off the island first, you can bet they’ll want to remove the complainers. The paraprofessionals and janitors in your building don’t want to hear about your teacher problems either; they have their own, and some of them are worse than yours. So when you complain, do it laterally. Complain to your colleagues. You’re in this thing together, after all, and sometimes it’s nice to know that you’re not alone in your frustrations. In this way, complaining can actually bring coworkers together.
5. Handle Your Business
Most principals will tell you that they are there to make your job easier. They might encourage you to enlist their help to remove any barriers you’re facing to effective teaching. They may even work with the staff to develop a list of behaviors and consequences, some of which will include office referrals. You might interpret this to mean they want teachers to send students who break certain rules to them.
Be careful, and before you write a student up, consider the situation from your principal’s perspective. They are busy. They have a lot of problems to deal with. When you send them a student, you are giving them more work to do. You better have a damn good reason. While good principals will say all the right things, the reality is that no principal looks forward to having misbehaving students in their office. They especially resent it if those students seem to come from the same teacher. And they really resent it if that teacher sends her problems to the office when they’re hardly even problems. Deal with the swearing, mild disrespect, and occasional interruptions of your lessons yourself. Handle your business. Issue your own consequences as much as possible. Call the parents yourself. To the greatest extent possible, avoid sending problems to your principal.
6. Disagree in Private
I once worked with a teacher who would regularly question and criticize our principal during staff meetings. I never understood why. Of course, teachers regularly disagree with their principals, and sometimes, policy decisions must be questioned. But doing so publicly, in front of every other member of the staff, is counterproductive. While it may gain you the respect of your colleagues, it puts your boss on the defensive, a position that’s likely to cause him to dig in even deeper to save face. Publicly calling out the boss also puts the teacher and principal in an adversarial position, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when the principal, who is in possession of the full spectrum of human emotions, looks for ways to even the score. Teachers don’t want to be called out in front of their colleagues, parents, or students. If we’re going to be criticized, we want it done privately. Do the same for your principal. If you have a problem with her decisions, ask for a meeting, send an email, or make a phone call. Don’t unnecessarily make an enemy of the person who’s doing your evaluation.
7. Ask for Feedback
You don’t need to be a great teacher to keep your job. That much is obvious. In most cases, you don’t even have to be good, especially if you’re likable and don’t cause additional problems for your principal. What you should do, especially if you’re not yet one of the better educators in your building, is show that you’re trying to get there. You needn’t sign up for a bunch of conferences or constantly mention the professional articles and teaching books you’ve been reading. All you need to do is ask for feedback. Invite your principal into your room. Ask her for her honest opinion about what she observes. Ask to visit other teachers in the building to learn from them. Ask for book recommendations. Show you’re invested in becoming better at your job. I don’t know a principal alive who wouldn’t want to give such a teacher another year (or five) if they were willing to work on their craft.
Two Alternatives and Their Dangers
You could also be a suck-up. Plenty of people are. You could bend over backward to make your principal happy. You could compliment her during staff meetings. You could send him a thank-you card whenever he offers feedback on your teaching. You could volunteer for every extra bit of work the district tries to squeeze out of teachers, and you could even squeal on your colleagues in your quest to curry favor. You could ingratiate yourself with obsequious behavior.
All that might work, but the dangers are many and the payoff isn’t worth it. You’ll alienate your colleagues, most of whom you will be working with for far longer than you’ll be working for your principal. You will likely end up lonely, which is a bad thing to be in this profession. And for what? To hold onto a job that you likely would have kept anyway? Education is the one field where sucking up to the boss really doesn’t get you anywhere. You won’t get paid more and you won’t get a promotion. You’ll just get to keep doing the same job you’ve been doing, except just about everyone will hate you and talk behind your back.
Alternatively, you could follow the advice in this article, which suggests being a huge pain the ass (because supervisors tend to fire weak people who won’t pitch a giant fit if they’re let go), faking a heart attack or seizure, and claiming discrimination. The only problem with these strategies is once you’ve protected your job, you still have to live with yourself.
Bulletproofing Is Actually Pretty Simple
I know a principal who summarized much of the above with a simple story he told me. This principal has a teacher in his building who is a former professional athlete. His classroom is regularly the loudest one in the school. Walk by his room, and you’ll rarely see kids sitting quietly at their desks. The other teachers in the building complain about his classroom management and insinuate that they believe he’s not the most effective educator. But his principal told me, “I love him. He’ll never get a bad evaluation from me because students love him, parents write me letters that say, ‘My kid has never liked school and he loves it this year,’ and he never complains about anything.”
Principals are people too; it behooves teachers to remember that. Principals don’t want to hear about your problems. They don’t want to solve all your problems. They don’t want to be criticized in front of others. They like teachers who are likable. They appreciate teachers who make their job easier. They want to keep teachers who students and parents like. Bulletproof your career by being the kind of teacher you would value if you were the principal.
Writing is one of those vital skills which, once you have it, you take for granted that at some point in your life you were without it. Whilst it’s highly unlikely that your kids won’t learn how to write, there are still a lot of mistakes that you can make as you are teaching them which can go on to be detrimental to them, affecting their whole process of development. With such a big thing at stake, let’s take a look at what mistakes you can make so that you know to do your best to avoid letting them arise.
Parents can be hugely over-zealous when it comes to monitoring and managing the development of their children. “There are lots of areas, from learning how to walk to toilet-training, where parents get hugely over-anxious about the rate at which their child is developing. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too early, and that very much applies to handwriting”, says Jessica Howard, lifestyle writer at Academ advisor and Study demic. Don’t push your children in a way that starts them out with a fear or dislike of handwriting. Introduce it slowly and surely, bit by bit.
Not Teaching Letter Formation
If your child has produced something that looks like the letter ‘c’, this isn’t necessarily the only evidence you need that they have successfully navigated the act of writing. Failing to teach your child the letter formation as it should be done properly can be really damaging as they start trying to write whole words. There are a few schools of thought on how to do this successfully. The important thing is that it gets done, not specifically how you end up doing it. Formation will really help guide your child so that if they’re ever in doubt, they have that training to fall back on.
Writing As Part Of A Continued Motor Development
The reason writing is difficult for many young children is that they struggle with fine motor skills in a general sense, not just with writing alone. “Teaching your child how to write is very important, but it should definitely be looked at as part of a larger goal, which is to get your child up to scratch more generally speaking with their physical skills”, explains Crystal Park, productivity expert at Grammarix and Easy word count. If you find yourself getting frustrated at your child’s inability on a fine motor skill level, then train that in a different area, unconnected to the pressure of also learning the meaning of the letters.
Failing To Foster A Love For It
Teaching writing can go in one of a few different ways in terms of your child’s perception of what it means to do handwriting. In general, you’ve got a problem if your child hates doing writing. The best way to avoid this is to do your best to foster a real love for the act of writing: make it fun, turn it into a game, do anything you can to create positive associations. Your child will have to do a lot of writing in their life, so make sure you set them off on the right path.
Using Alphabetical Order
Jumping in with the letter ‘A’ and expecting to be able to just drive your child the way down the line to ‘Z’ is not a good way to go about thinking about how to successfully teach writing to your child. The alphabet, as much as you might take it for granted now, actually has vast differences in the levels of difficulty. So drawing the letter ‘I’, for example, is considerably easier for a child than the letter ‘A’. Start with this in mind, so that you break your child in gently, rather than pushing them too far all at once.
Overall, you want to make sure that you’re setting a solid, healthy precedent for your child as they begin to learn to write. Don’t be overly cautious, but definitely be on the lookout for messing up any of these elements and creating unnecessary problems for your child.
A writer and blogger at Academized.com and Paperfellows.com, Ellie Coverdale is passionate about sharing her extensive experience. She specializes in writing tips and suggestions. Ellie enjoys writing about a wide range of topics, including lifestyle, education, and life as a writer. She fills the rest of her time as a teacher for Oxessays.com.
The idea that video games are brain-rotters and just for fun after school is outdated. Now, innovative teachers are bringing gaming into their classrooms to create learning experiences that stick. While there should always be a learning goal in mind when students are invited to play video games at school, it is not hard to see just how technology influences kids to reach their full potential. Teachers can use these ideas to implement video games in their classroom lesson plans to help kids pay attention and learn new skills that they will use for a lifetime.
Get Kids Interested in Making Their Own Games
Kids love interacting with technology, but it can be challenging to get them to pay attention in their basic tech courses. Teaching kids to make a video game will encourage them to use their creative thinking abilities while also learning the basics behind computer programming. Many games require a mixture of concept design, creative storytelling, coding, and math. For teachers who are not tech-savvy, special apps can be found that help kids get started with making their own games.
Teach Monetization and Marketing Skills
If there’s one thing kids love more than making games, it’s making money. Once kids are making their own video games, they can turn them into a mini-business. Teachers can tap into the innate skills of their students by teaching them how to market their games and monetize them for a successful first-time business venture. For instance, teaching kids crowdfunding best practices helps them enter into a new opportunity to build upon their skill set. Even if it only provides pocket change, helping students to see how their coding and technology skills have real-life applications and benefits can encourage them to see how school will affect their life goals and career paths. Using what they learn in class to set up a real world business motivates kids to learn even more about technology, as well as math, finances, and legal copyright.
Give Insight into Character Development
Video games are not just for teaching tech skills. Reading and language arts teachers can use games to help kids learn more about how people think and react in different situations. For instance, simulation games that encourage players to create stories for the characters are great for helping kids learn how to develop characterization in a story. Alternatively, teachers can use games to help kids learn how to follow a storyline by analyzing what the characters do. Many games act more like visual novels with branching storylines and character choices, and games like these can help students develop their own storytelling skills.
Develop Critical Thinking Skills
The ability to think through problems to find appropriate solutions is important for kids today and in their futures as leaders in their communities. Video games require critical thinking skills that help kids figure out how they can look at the different angles of a situation to find the best approach. Teachers who choose to use games for this reason should select ones that require kids to make complicated decisions regarding their strategies to win. Many of these games can be competitive, and classes can be divided into teams. Others can involve teamwork and interpersonal strategizing, like Artemis, a game where each player takes on a workstation to run a spaceship simulator.
There’s no question that kids love gaming, and teachers can use this interest to direct their students’ attention to important lessons that benefit them in life. From creating their own games to marketing them to a wider audience, students who are exposed to technology and its many uses at an early age have more opportunities to find and creatively implement success.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan
Are your students falling asleep during your lectures? From ADHD to rumbling stomachs, there are many reasons that young adults find it difficult to concentrate in school. However, sometimes you have to face the fact that your boring lecture is the reason for your class catching z’s. If you’re struggling to capture your students’ attention, try these four visual aids to create memorable lessons.
Show How Soundwaves Travel
For this demonstration, you will need two identical glasses, water, a sponge and a piece of thin wire. To begin, fill each glass with equal amounts of water and stretch the wire over the top of one glass. Then move your finger across the rim of the other glass and watch the wire move. The glasses have the same natural frequency because they contain the same amount of water, which means that sound can travel from one to the other.
Recreate the Process of Erosion
A stream table is a scientific model that simulates the process of erosion through different types of sand and soil. You can purchase beautifully crafted models that come with different types of sand for experimenting or create your own with a large roasting pan and sand collected from outdoors. Either way, your students can observe the process of erosion in real time and see how it varies when the type of soil and path of water flow is changed.
Observe Magnetic Fields
This is an easy experiment that only requires some iron filings, a magnet and a piece of paper. Just sprinkle the filings on a sheet of white paper and bring the magnet close to the underside of the paper. Like magic, the filings will form a line along the magnetic field so your students can observe its contours.
Visualize Gravitational Pull
The concept of gravitational pull can be difficult to explain, but you can make it simple with just a piece of lycra fabric, a frame and a couple of large ball bearings. Stretch the fabric over a round frame, such as a quilting frame. Then place one metal ball in the center. Now, have your students observe as you place another ball at the edge of material and the two balls move toward each other.
Although visual aids can be fun, remember not to take up too much class time with them. A good visual aid goes a long way in reinforcing the lesson, but lectures and reading materials allow students to cover more information in less time.