How To Support The Increasingly Diverse Student Populations Present in Your Classrooms


How To Support The Increasingly Diverse Student Populations Present in Your Classrooms
“It’s important for schools to begin by setting a tone that values and leverages diversity as an asset, across all aspects of teaching and learning.  This cannot be an ‘add on’ or a checklist, but rather an ongoing effort marked by continuous learning and reflection.”  —  Dana Mortenson

Teaching in a Global Landscape – Mindful Multiculturalism in Today’s Classroom was the timely theme of the recent Twitter Chat hosted by Edmodo and The Global Search for Education. Featured guests Dr. William Gaudelli (Department Chair and Associate Professor, Teachers College, Columbia University), Jessica Kehayes (Executive Director, Education, Asia Society), and Dana Mortenson (Co-Founder and Executive Director, World Savvy) joined teachers and tweeters from all over the world to synthesize research, insights and examples of best practices in fostering global consciousness to support the increasingly diverse student populations present in their classrooms.

For those who missed #EdmodoGS4Echat Live, it’s our pleasure to welcome back to The Global Search for Education our featured guests, Bill, Jessica and Dana, to share the highlights of what we learned.

What does Multiculturalism in education mean to you? 

Dana: Multiculturalism is a critical and core element of building more future-facing globally competent environments. As demography shifts and migration patterns make classrooms more ethnically and culturally diverse, the global knowledge economy demands graduates with nuanced, global skills. Here’s our global competence definition: http://bit.ly/1QQ9H15

Bill: Being open to others – seeing and listening to them – with a willingness to change your thinking and doing as a result.

Jessica: As one of our students said more eloquently than I could, global competence teaches us about the beauty and the ugliness of the world and prepares us to be not only informed but also empathetic: http://bit.ly/1R01Esn

diversity-in-the-classroom
“Teachers grasp of how they are socially positioned in the world – by race/ethnicity, class, gender, gender-orientation, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability to name a few – invite them to help students think similarly.”  —  Bill Gaudelli

How can schools be better prepared to suit multicultural classrooms?

Dana: It’s important for schools to begin by setting a tone that values and leverages diversity as an asset, across all aspects of teaching and learning. This cannot be an ‘add on’ or a checklist, but rather an ongoing effort marked by continuous learning and reflection. Students coming into school with richly diverse and varied life experience can then be positioned for success as real contributors to engaging curriculum and discourse, where their own narratives, ideas and experiences are directly leveraged in the process of learning about, and with, the world. The principal at one of our outstanding school partners shares her perspective on how this works: http://bit.ly/1S8FBV1

Bill: Encourage preservice and beginning and veteran teachers to leave their comfort zone, understand their social positions and dig-down into who they are: http://bit.ly/1Su44VB

Teachers grasp of how they are socially positioned in the world – by race/ethnicity, class, gender, gender-orientation, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability to name a few – invite them to help students think similarly.

Jessica: Schools are increasingly developing teacher-leader roles, equipping them to lead professional conversations between colleagues, and building in time for collaborative work between teachers. There are also many organizations that work directly with schools and districts to support global competence training, strengthening the capacities the schools have in place.

What are the ways that teachers can foster independent thinking while still promoting diverse learning styles?

Bill: Use the barometer method to encourage divergent views about a topic and develop personalized learning that has a strong social learning component.

Jessica: Teachers can: (1) create an environment where students feel safe bringing their culture, perspective, background and diversity into the classroom; (2) allow for student choice and voice in their own learning; and (3) show students the diversity of the community and the world around them to encourage thinking. Global projects, with opportunities for student choice, are a great option.

Dana: Be sensitive to individualism and collectivism in a learning environment, and how you engage learners for growth: http://bit.ly/21DsluR

diversity-in-education
“Technology allows international exchange without the barriers of cost, administration, and sometimes prohibitive travel visas.  Start small and grow.” —  Jessica Kehayes

What role does technology play in creating a better multicultural classroom?

Bill: Encourage kids to talk about limits/benefits of using media-connectivity, or is connected always ‘connected’? Check out “Is FB making us lonely?” by Stephen Marche: http://theatln.tc/1hALSaV

Jessica: Technology allows international exchange without the barriers of cost, administration, and sometimes prohibitive travel visas. Start small and grow. Simulations, video chats or using social media for discussion or to connect to expert resources outside of your immediate school community are all easy ways to get started. Connecting to world events is often a logical way to go and there are many other opportunities to plug in: museum cultural visits, documentary film making and game design all provide ways for engaged global learning. More tips:http://bit.ly/1nrGcVK

Dana: A student who engages with others from around the world, researches issues from multiple perspectives online, then develops ideas for addressing those issues, now has the capacity to share those ideas and collaborate with people anywhere. Tech is an incredibly powerful tool. Three organizations I admire doing this work are @global_nomads @Tonyblair_TBFF @iEARNUSA.

How can educational systems better address prior learning and transferability of skills?

Bill: Teaching students to inquire is the ultimate transferable skill – it’s what makes us human. Learning how to learn is the core of being globally competent: http://bit.ly/21SZp5I

Jessica: Education systems have an opportunity to allow students to gain credit for knowledge gained outside of formal education and many are making big strides in this area. For example, the state of Washington in the U.S has a seal of biliteracy to recognize the language learning of students, with great benefit for immigrant learners, and many other states are working to implement a similar model. Competency-based credit is a huge opportunity for out-of-school learning, community partnerships: http://bit.ly/1DyaxrU


student-diversity
“Teaching students to inquire is the ultimate transferable skill – it’s what makes us human. Learning how to learn is the core of being globally competent.” — Bill Gaudelli

What are some tips for teaching mindfulness around social, emotional, and cultural diversity?

Jessica: Start locally and look for diversity in your community–parents, businesses, partners–and use them as an asset. Give students the choice to engage in projects that interest them, or link another community, to build empathy and relevance. Look at news and images in other countries and ask students to consciously take on new perspectives.

Dana: Here are some specific suggestions for how schools can prepare their students: http://edut.to/1zWHrPR

How can a multicultural classroom help students see cultural differences as positive and necessary for a healthy community?

Jessica: The more we can promote understanding and perspective-taking, and encourage explanation of your own thinking while respectfully hearing others, the more opportunity there is for new thinking to emerge and communities to be strengthened. Building relationships with the community can and should start early, promoting all members of our society as important voices, including our youngest. A case study of an afterschool program in Seattle: http://bit.ly/1TmK60h

Dana: Here’s an example of how a group of teachers adjusted grading to measure what matters: http://bit.ly/1RzWtT3

Many thanks to our Featured Guests for their insights and resources. Check out the entire chat on #EdmodoGS4Echat

Founded in 2008 and used by more than 370,000 schools in over 190 countries with 60 million users, Edmodo was designed to protect the privacy and security of students and teachers by providing a closed, private platform in which they can connect, share content, and leverage educational apps to augment in-classroom learning.

For more information.

About the Author
Author: C. M. RubinWebsite: http://www.cmrubinworld.com/
The Global Search for Education (GSE) is a regular contributor to EdTechReview. Authored by C. M Rubin GSE brings together distinguished thought leaders in education and innovation from around the world to explore the key learning issues faced by today's nations. The series has become a highly visible platform for global discourse on 21st century education.

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