The face of the American classroom is changing, and with that change comes a transition of teaching methods. Students from varying cultures must feel comfortable in the classroom in order to learn, and teachers need to be aware of these changing needs. Creating a culture of inclusion can help all students achieve.
Adapting the classroom to include all cultures can lead to benefits for teachers, students, and parents. Teachers need to seek out parents as a great resource in adapting to different cultures. This will promote parent involvement in their children’s education, as well as providing learning opportunities for their children’s teachers and classmates. Teachers need to share cultural traditions with all students, creating an opportunity to learn about different cultures and world views and teaching students to value diversity.
When teachers observe their students demonstrating different behaviors than they’re used to, they should investigate and learn from these behaviors instead of taking offense. Many teachers wouldn’t like to be called ‘Teacher’ by their students, but in many Latino cultures, it’s a sign of respect. Adapting to these differences offer opportunities for growth and learning in education.
It is also important to set ground rules for different cultures in the classroom. One group may consider helping out a neighbor to be admirable, since that’s how they have learned behaviors and traditions in their families and neighborhoods. But in a traditional American classroom, that behavior would be considered cheating. Students must learn expectations in the classroom before being scolded for their cultural behaviors.
Training teachers for cultural competency may seem like an added expense for schools, but the benefits greatly outweigh the cost. Students will learn to respect different cultures, teachers can incorporate food and craft traditions into lesson plans, and parents can become more involved in their children’s education. Our classrooms are changing, and with that change brings opportunity.