Accepting and embracing that our society and world is diverse with many unique individuals can be difficult for some students especially as young people are in an age of that glorifies perceived perfection and amplifies the desire of young people to be popular and accepted.
Many school districts around the country have very diverse cultures, while at the same time many still commonly exist with ethnically homogenous environments. In addition to the notion that diversity only refers to ethnic backgrounds, it also includes any group of people that may not be exactly like them. Embracing the differences that exist with those that suffer with handicaps as well must be acknowledged.
As teachers we have a responsibility to provide opportunities for students to experience other cultures, examine what it is like to be from a minority, and to provide sound judgment that will help improve tolerance in this generation.
When preparing lessons plans a teacher should look for opportunities to blend in experiences that will build tolerance for diversity.
These are some tips to help teachers to assist in incorporating diversity into lesson plans.
1) Consider students within the school system itself. Many of the students that already are in our schools have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be valuable to a teacher. Seek out foreign exchange students who can teach classes about their specific cultures.
2) Bring in people from the community. There are often people in our own towns and local communities that come from diverse backgrounds as well as having experienced many other cultures. These individuals can teach classes about their experiences in foreign countries and the own experiences with other cultures.
3) Try to break stereotypes. There are many unfair stereotypes about many minority groups. Look for anything that teaches that we should not accept stereotypical assumptions.
4) Use literature to teach diversity. Literature can be one of the most valuable assets to teach diversity. Select books in which characters face their diverse challenges. There is literature for nearly every grade level that can teach tolerance as well as understanding what it is like to be in a minority.
5) Use video clips. Video clips can be an effective tool to teach diversity. It may not be an entire movie or television program, but sometimes all that is needed to emphasize a point is a short five minute clip.
6) Compile great resource books. There are several great books available on the market. Some of which directly supply lesson plans and others that supply theory and technique. Two recommended books for helping teachers incorporate diversity into the classroom follow:
147 Practical Tips For Teaching Diversity by William Timpson, Raymond Young, Evelinn Borrayo, and Silvia Sara Canetto from 2005.
Cultural Diversity and Education: Foundations, Curriculum, and Teaching (5th Edition) by James Banks 2005.
Diversity has an important place in the classroom. Anything that teachers can do to promote tolerance to the diverse people and cultures that surround students today is a step in the right direction.