- Educating children at a young age the importance of diversity will help them grow into more successful and accepting adults. It teaches understanding, promotes growth, and prepares for future careers. This guide will help educators as well as substitute/first-year teachers to incorporate these strategies and activities into their teaching habits.
A Guide To
Diversity In The Classroom
Defining Diversity In The Classroom
Simply put, “diversity” refers to the fact that everyone in
a classroom is unique. Students may come from different
cultural backgrounds, their families may face varying
economic circumstances, or they may have different religious
beliefs. Even with similar backgrounds, however, individual
students may read at different levels or be more athletic than
others. No matter how much common ground students share,
each one has a unique personality. The challenge for the
classroom teacher: Recognize these differences and create
an environment where everyone has the opportunity to learn
while also respecting one another.
Even in a classroom of students from similar cultural and
socioeconomic backgrounds, teachers must be aware of
diversity. Not only must they incorporate their students’
different backgrounds and needs into their lesson plans, but
they also should demonstrate for students the value and
importance of being respectful to those who are different.
Tips for Encouraging Diversity
Presented here are some strategies for teaching students with diverse
backgrounds and learning styles:
• Answer students’ questions about diversity.
• Model the respectful behaviors that students
are to demonstrate in the classroom.
• Get to know students’ families to
better understand their home lives
and cultural backgrounds.
• Teach students to think critically and ask
questions about what they experience.
• Learn students’ interests and backgrounds to
better incorporate ideas that are relevant to
them into lesson plans.
• Encourage respectful behavior in the
classroom and discourage bullying or teasing.
• Encourage activities that get students to work
with others with whom they ordinarily might
• Assign group activities that draw upon the
individual strengths of each student, as this will
emphasize the value of teamwork and diversity.
• Bring in guest speakers from diverse
backgrounds for students to identify with as
Activity Idea For Discovering Diversity
Encouraging students to take part in group activities with peers they otherwise would
not socialize with is an effective strategy for helping them understand diversity.
Here is a protocol teachers can use to develop important listening skills by having
students engage in academic conversations with diverse partners:
• Students stand up.
• Students find their new partner quietly and quickly.
• Set a timer and if the process is not quiet, have them try it again.
• Students gather their tools for the academic conversation (i.e., text/pencil or
pen/clipboard or whiteboard).
• Before they move to find a new friend, set parameters. (For example, “You
may not partner with someone at your table or your best friends.”)
• Students put one hand up in the air and find a partner (not a person at their
table or their best friends). Teachers need to monitor the student choices.