As students and teachers interact, many differences become visible in aspects such as their cultures, ethnicity, religion, and gender among others. More so variations in ages is another element that makes people different, and the way teachers and support staff handle these differences makes a significant difference in learning. Over the years, and as the world has been diversifying due to the effects of technology, it has become easier for students to learn in many parts of the world far from their homes. In such a case, many races have been studying together, and their integration in education is a perfect illustration of the meaning of a diverse learning community.
By and large, a learning community that celebrates diversity is the one where many elements that create divisions among people get an opportunity to thrive. This point implies that learners are not divided, and can interact with each other comfortably. Over time, diversity in schools has improved, and critical cases that brought controversies and conflicts in the past are no longer widespread. As time progresses, it is expected that schools will have more people from different cultural segments and the climate in the schools will allow them to study without conflicting.
In my case, I worked in a school which had students from Yemen, Dominican Republic, the Caribbean, and Americans. Firstly, there is a regional representation in this scenario. Therefore, it accurately depicts the incorporation of diverse cultures into a single learning unit. When students from different cultures come together, they come with different values, preferences, and attitudes. If these differences are embraced, there is more cohesion, and learning takes place as the teacher wishes. If there is no celebration of diversity, conflicts are likely to emerge, and learning becomes highly challenging.
When it comes to the celebration of diversity, learning communities give an equal chance for all the differences to thrive. For instance, if students come from different regions like in my case, there shouldn't be a scenario where one seems superior to the rest. Regarding that, admissions should be fair while considering other aspects like the students' health and cognitive skills. As such, issues such as race, religion, and cultural segmentation should not be the reason for denying admission. When these students come together, the resources they use should also be universal in their approach. Here, they shouldn't depict one culture as more superior irrespective of its dominance on the broader community.
So far, the most critical issue to understand is that diversity, in all its forms, is no longer detachable from the concerns that schools must prioritize. As Miles and Ainscow (2010) observe as well, it is a concern that is facing both private and public schools. Therefore, schools and their administrations must integrate measures that attract students and staff from diverse communities. Regarding that, diverse learning communities do not necessarily consider the interests of the students. The instructors should also be from diverse communities: they should reflect different social backgrounds as well as economic differences as much as possible.
Like I observed when dealing with students from Yemen, Dominican Republic, the Caribbean and Americans, communication is a critical element that can promote or discourage diversity. For instance, if there is clear and free communications from the different departments, people within the learning institution cooperate very well. More so, everyone feels accepted and appreciated. Instead of a situation where there is fear due to the way people are different, there are more chances to interact, share experiences and support each other. In the end, this connection breeds tolerance which eventually transforms the school into a warm, highly welcoming and diverse academic community.
Strategies for Diversity Promotion
In agreement with Amatea (2013), cultural responsiveness is essential since students are highly multicultural due to their belongingness from diverse cultures. In this respect, it is necessary to critically examine their differences before utilizing any strategy for diversity promotion. Among the critical areas that require adequate assessment include people's age, gender, and religions. As Landsman and Lewis (2011) further suggest, socioeconomic differences are also part of the elements that educators need to examine when handling different students. The main reason behind this assertion is the fact that social strata change people's attitudes, beliefs, and abilities due to different exposures.
One strategy that a teacher can utilize to create an environment that is acceptable to all people is expressing interest in the ethnic background of the students. At this point, the teacher needs to show some interest in the different features of the various communities represented in the class. Teachers need to be sure about the students' differences such as their names; thus, he/she must be able to pronounce them correctly while requesting the students to do the same. More so, it is essential to ask more about the students' backgrounds and what they have concerning traditions and social behaviors. In so doing, the students will fell valued: this increases their interest in learning.
More so, the teacher needs to be highly sensitive to language concerns. According to Edwards (2010), students can feel uncomfortable when in classes where the dominant language is beyond their understanding. For instance, students who aren't native English speakers may feel marginalized in scenarios that require them to discard their original language and do everything in English. Such a situation discourages diversity. Thus, there should be learning materials that promote a culturally responsive classroom. A perfect example is a teacher providing materials in the students' primary language even though they should be required to master one language for instructional purposes.
Giving the students a feeling of inclusion is also vital in promoting a learning environment where all feel accepted. This way, the teacher must be highly observant of how he/she assigns roles in the class. There should be a lot of fairness when it comes to giving responsibilities to ensure that no student feels discriminated. In all ways possible, the curriculum must also be inclusive: it should show the unique differences that the students possess. With a responsive curriculum, the teacher takes into account both school and non-school cultural life into the classroom. As a result, the students feel ready to learn whether at home or school.
Cooperating Teacher's Strategies
The celebration of diversity and incorporation of multiculturalism in the classroom require different strategies which the cooperating teacher showed as well. The first that the cooperating teacher showed was compliance with school policies and procedures that encourage fairness in the classroom. When interacting with the students, there was a fair chance to all irrespective of their regional and cultural differences among other factors. In this case, everyone is a student when they get into the class. Other elements should not be dominant. In so doing, there is no room for discrimination.
More so, students need to take part in games and other imaginative activities that allow them to show their cultural uniqueness. For example, in social studies and sciences, they learn more about what is present in the environment. At this point, the teacher can ask them specific questions about where they come from: this makes them feel valued and their origins meaningful. Above all, and as the cooperating teacher emphasized, there is a need for the use of different teaching strategies. This way, and in summation, a teacher takes into account the students' differences since all of them cannot be comfortable with one method.
Anecdotal Log for Field Exp erience and Practicum I
Classroom Activities: Activities for today, Wednesday, include greeting, breakfast, morning circle, math, music, reading, bathroom, lunch, rest/nap/sleep, wash hands, snack, circle time, free play and good bye.
Observations: considering that it is Halloween today, the children attended the class dressed in Halloween costumes. Indeed, that was expected: cultures and related activities are observed in all parts of the world. In doing so together, the bond between the children improves, and they get to learn more about public events. They all seemed happy, and we talked a lot with the other staff about their costumes. We made comparisons as well. The head teacher brought a lot of sweets for the children. As the day's events progressed, the teacher read a book called Pete the Cat: Trick or Pete by James Dean.
Critical Analysis of the Observations: in the classroom and entire education sector, students come from different cultures and have various activities they strictly observe. As Amatea (2013) suggests, the children are culturally responsive; thus, they are likely to embrace and commemorate their cultural events that give them different identities strictly. As a result, it is essential for the teacher to be highly conversant with the cultural and social aspects that provide students with different identities. Also, the teachers need to take part in the celebrations while encouraging the students to do the same. In this scenario, the provision of sweets is a perfect example of how motivation takes place. If the students are enjoying, it is appropriate to give them more time to celebrate.
Learning is multidimensional and takes place in different environments. As the settings change, it is imperative to come up with new strategies to match the situational needs. By and large, this suggestion coincides with Gagne's theory of conditions of learning that suggests that different learning conditions require matching strategies (Tomei, 2008). In this case, participating in Halloween celebration is a form of social learning hence the need to apply strategies that match the situation such as playing. The social learning theory also suits this scenario. It suggests that learning occur observation (Kolodziej, 2015). As the student observe what the teacher is doing by motivation (giving sweets), they are likely to feel appreciated: this will change their attitude towards the teacher and the entire learning process.
Amatea, E. (2013). Building culturally responsive family- school-relationship (2nd Ed). Boston: Pearson.
Edwards, J. (2010). Language diversity in the classroom. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Landsman, J., & Lewis, C. W. (2011). White teachers / diverse classrooms: Creating inclusive schools, building on students' diversity, and providing true educational equity. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub.
Miles, S., & Ainscow, M. (Eds.). (2010). Responding to diversity in schools: An inquiry-based approach. Routledge.
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