This paper discusses the specifics of working in multicultural classrooms and teaching strategies for cooperation with children who belong to various social backgrounds. It identifies personal teaching styles and factors, which have contributed to the formation and development of multicultural classrooms. Moreover, the paper analyzes the effective practice of working in multicultural classrooms and methods of enhancing children’s awareness of the diversities and the importance of tolerant and respectful attitudes to them. The paper incorporates a theory of the teaching strategies for diverse classrooms as well as personal experience and ideas. It also shows that the significance of adjusting the teaching style to the principles of multiculturalism demonstrates the positive consequences of implementing the best practices in the educational process of diverse learners. The paper provides a conclusion that there are many effective and productive teaching practices that can boost the fruitfulness of the educational process and its outcomes in diverse classrooms.
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Teaching in Diverse Classrooms
Working with children in a diverse classroom requires special experience, knowledge, and skills. The attitudes to diversities and different cultures highly depend on the upbringing and social environment. Moreover, the acceptance of diversity is the result of personal values and professional qualifications gained throughout the obtainment of a degree in teaching. In my case, several ideas and statements have shaped my teaching style in diverse classrooms. The aim of this paper is to explain the specifics of multicultural classrooms, define the principles of raising awareness about social diversity, and analyze the effective practices to be implemented in the studying process with diverse schoolchildren.
Impacts on my Teaching Style in the Diverse Classroom
To start with, I strongly agree with the idea of the humanistic approach to people, society, and the natural environment. According to this approach, a human being should be regarded as the biggest value and the final aim of the educational process. It calls for the respect, loyalty, tolerance, acceptance of the individual and social diversities, and sympathetic treatment of all people. The humanistic approach excludes the cases of violence, cruelty, discrimination, and harassment, applying mainly to the favorable and friendly methods of cooperation and communication with people (Ball & Tyson, 2011). The humanistic approach helped me shape my teaching style and introduce its ideas in the classroom. Particularly, I include the discussions of different cultures and traditions during my lessons, organize intercultural evenings and meetings, allow children to compare their traditions and customs, and emphasize gender equality in the educational process.
In addition, my attitude to diversity has been shaped under the influence of classical fiction books, which strongly condemn any cases of discrimination and violation of human rights. Particularly, the novels by T. Dreiser, E. Hemingway, and J Steinbeck have demonstrated the threatening consequences of the inappropriate treatment of individuals and the division of people into groups, in accordance with some inherited criteria. In particular, I use extracts from American books to raise children’s awareness of diversity and the importance of equal treatment.
Working with the Diversities: Example of Disability and Religious Minorities
It is true that working with children from diverse backgrounds modifies the teaching style and requires inevitable changes. However, in the long run, all of them positively influence the studying process and lead to productive outcomes (Ball & Tyson, 2011). In my teaching practice, there was a classroom in which one boy had a physical disability and could not move without a wheelchair. Commonly, during the school day, children have to change rooms for different subjects. Moreover, there is a regulation, which requires all children to leave the studying room during long breaks. However, in this case, those regulations were canceled in order to facilitate the studying of that physically disabled child and allow him to spend more time with his peers. This practice positively influenced the interaction between children and promoted a favorable atmosphere during lessons.
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Another example is connected to the adaptation of the studying process to work with religious minorities. It is common knowledge that the Islamic culture and religion require individuals to pray several times per day and only eat certain kinds of food. Having Muslim children in the classroom made me introduce short breaks, which allowed them to fulfill their religious rituals. Meanwhile, I prepared energizers and warm-up games for other children, so that they could spend this time with benefit. Moreover, during the organization of parties or dinners, I always paid attention to the availability of different dishes to satisfy the needs and requirements of diverse children. In my opinion, the adjustment of the studying process to the needs of different cultures is the right strategy to reach high productivity and fruitfulness of the educational outcomes.
Importance of Acceptance of Diversities
To start with, it is important to emphasize that we all are human beings first and foremost. It means that every child and adult requires the same level of respect and empathy. The differences, such as sex, age, disability, nationality, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation are inherited, meaning that individuals cannot deliberately manage or change them. In this light, it is important to teach children to respect individual diversities and point to the equality of all humans within society. Besides, such diversities as political views, religion, gender, citizenship, social status. and geographic location is variable and depends on individual preferences, values, interests, and desires. Nevertheless, all of them indicate personal choice and freedom, which should also be respected and accepted appropriately. The educational process should pay sufficient attention to the discussion of various cultures, comparisons of different religious beliefs, explanations of political opinions, and other social aspects in order to let children form their thoughts and preferences (De Melendez & Beck, 2012). Overall, the first task of the educational process is to teach children to demonstrate a tolerant attitude to all diversities without any personal or subjective prejudices, biases, and stereotypes.
A great role in the appropriate treatment of diversity in classrooms belongs to handbooks and visual studying materials. In particular, the illustrations and images in handbooks should depict the realistic situations and appearances of different people, excluding the depictions of caricatures or social stereotypes (De Melendez & Beck, 2012). Moreover, amplification of the studying content with exercises, creative assignments, games, and tasks should also consider and discuss the social diversities without focusing on one specific group of people (Flood, Heath, & Lapp, 2015). If children learn about diversity in the classroom, they will be able to accept it in their adulthood and reject the harmful social stereotypes and implications, which still exist in our society.
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Personal Incorporation of the Best Practices
In my teaching style, I frequently incorporate group discussions and team presentations. Commonly, children are divided into small groups and asked to work on a certain task and come up with the agreement and shared conclusions (Brookfield & Preskill, 2012). Each group comprises of children from different social backgrounds and cultural affiliations. Moreover, I try to maintain the gender balance and include minorities in each team as well. Working as a team is a good practice in any environment, as it encourages interpersonal dialogues, promotes interaction, facilitates communication, and contributes to the efficient exchange of ideas and experiences (Ball & Tyson, 2011). The results only benefit if the teams consist of children, representing social and individual diversities. This is one of the best practices, which should be widely implemented in diverse classrooms.
Analogically, I incorporate the practices of experiencing foreign traditions and customs through music, pictures, dances, and documentary movies. Visualizing the diversities is a good strategy to develop a positive attitude to them among schoolchildren. Besides, such exercises usually lead to extensive discussions and exchange of opinions, where each child has an opportunity to speak up and express their personal thoughts, concerned with experiencing foreign traditions and values (Brookfield & Preskill, 2012). Besides, the comparison of cultures assists in both contrasting the beliefs and finding the features. In these terms, this practice helps emphasize the common characteristics, which define our general affiliation to the human race.
Finally, it is important to incorporate the practice of enhanced communication with the parents in order to combine the school and family influences on the formation of the relevant imaginations and associations with diversities. Apparently, the family background plays a crucial role in the development of human personality and the formation of the corresponding values and beliefs. Therefore, there is a sense in promoting the continuous emphasis on the tolerant acceptance of multiculturalism, both at school and at home.
Examples of Incorporation of Best Practices in the Diverse Classroom
School excursions to the local museums and art centers are a best practice that appeals to all schoolchildren, as young learners enjoy outings and collective excursions. From the pedagogical point of view, this practice provides numerous advantages, such as the immersion into cultural surroundings, opportunity to access the guided tour with the detailed explanations, capacity to experience a wide range of cultures and traditions, enhanced visualization, and active participation in the process of learning. From the social and multicultural point of view, this practice is also valuable, as it promotes communication between children and allows them to learn more about different social and cultural backgrounds. As a result, this practice allows increasing children’s awareness of cultures through emotional, expressive, and visualized educational tours.
Studying posters and wallpapers is important. The interior of the classroom helps with the educational purposes, comprising of numerous posters, notes, announcements, portraits of famous people, and quotes. In my classroom, I include posters, which describe people from different social backgrounds, national and ethnic groups, religious, and cultural diversities. Moreover, I include portraits of both men and women, people with disabilities, and individuals of different ages. Observing such diversities allows children to adjust to experiencing the differences in real life and form tolerant attitudes to them. As a result, the learners demonstrate increased capacities to cooperate with social diversities and treat them appropriately.
Interactive games and songs. This Best Practice emphasizes the importance of active learning and the active participation of children in studying tasks and exercises. Playing games provides a strong emotional impact, which contributes to the development of children’s physical activities, expressiveness, and creativity. Correspondingly, the implementation of this practice leads to the increased development of the imagination, flexibility, and emotional health of children (De Melendez & Beck, 2012). Besides, participation in games calls for collective efforts and interaction, which positively influences the socialization of learners and interpersonal relationships.
Inviting special guests from local authorities or NGOs is a good idea. One can use the authority of famous people in order to prove the reliability of studying the content and allowing children to amplify their knowledge. The invitation of guests helps to attract children’s attention to the studying material, increase their concentration on the topic, and promote their participation in the dialogue or discussion (Milner, 2011). It also allows learners to ask their questions and clarify different aspects of the subject. Respectively, this practice leads to better perception and memorization of the topic and better evaluation of the subject in the long run.
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Problem-solving exercises and case studies are important because it is possible to combine theory with practice. Once children learn a topic, it is essential to provide them with the opportunity to use their knowledge in practice. For this reason, I invent real-life practical dilemmas, asking children to find the solutions and state their choices. The dilemmas commonly refer to some intercultural and international problems and require children to express their ethical and moral considerations. A good idea is to allow children to work in teams so that they can search for conclusions collectively. Overall, this practice raises the practical skills of children and challenges their reactions to the experience of diversities.
In conclusion, working in diverse classrooms requires qualitative modifications of the studying content and adjustment of the lessons to the needs and demands of children from different backgrounds. The main idea of working in a multicultural environment is to raise children’s awareness of the diversities and teach them to demonstrate tolerant, respectful, and loyal attitudes to all of them. Correspondingly, the specifics of work in multicultural classrooms focus on the experience of different cultures and the amplification of children’s knowledge of various social and individual backgrounds.