3 strategies to help teachers in multicultural classrooms
Based on the diversity of the classrooms across America, multicultural classrooms are becoming a daily scenarios for many teachers. The cultural dynamics of classrooms now encompasses students from all walks of life and from around the world.
It is beyond belief that much of a teacher’s toolkit does not involve teaching strategies in multicultural classrooms. As a matter of fact, few programs emphasize the need of a cultural teaching class.
It is even more evident as different student needs change as the diversity of student population changes. But what are the effective teaching strategies that teachers can build up in their toolkits?
Misconceptions about multicultural classrooms
As English language learners (ELL) students become prevalent in the classrooms, it is essential to provide alternative ways to help them assimilate not only to the English language but to the culture itself.
Some of the cultural aspects that educators often lack is perception. Could it be that sometimes teachers show biased connotation about one culture than another? Perhaps, it is the other way.
Students may bring unexpected associations with school settings and professional teachers. Either way, it is important to realize the multicultural classroom is building a community of learners regardless of diversity.
As a nation, we are struggling to compete with other nations for technology and science. According to a Penn State report, employees lack the cultural awareness skill set to be competitive in a global economy where much of the market tends to be outside the U.S.
Offer help to ELL students during group projects
One way to broaden the teaching strategies of multicultural classrooms is to provide assistance for ELL students, which is the group that struggles with reading and language the most.
Group activity is a positive initiative for ELL students to interact with other English speaking students and to begin to acquire the language culture.
When working assigning group projects, teachers can make sure to provide a leader in the group that hopefully can help ELL students. Discussion questions are provided to students in a simple task format, with one or two short answer questions.
Providing essential cues to directions, writing instructions on a slide, and posting them on the board are great ways to add visual aid.
Motivate ELL students to use a variety of reading materials
Another way to improve cultural awareness is to encourage reading. Whether it be in an assignment or presentation, teachers can provide different ways of reading. For example, it can be ebooks, audiobooks, dramatic plays, movies of books, or short stories.
Reading, however, is only the beginning. Teachers need to make sure reading comprehension is not a frustrating situation of I-can’t-do-it but an attitude of I-can-do-it.
Establish communication methods for non-English speaking families
Getting to know parents and families is another strategy in any teacher’s toolkit. In particular, by sending newsletters or simply in parent-teacher conferences can be ideal situations to gauge the cultural awareness of families.
In many instances, it is a good idea for teacher, at the beginning of the school year, to provide a family or parental survey to gather information. Especially when it comes to parents whose language is not English, it may be difficult to communicate.
When you provide additional ways to communicate, it puts the parents of non-English speaking language at ease. For instance, teachers can work with other staff members (if available) that speak the same language, paraprofessionals, and teachers aide that may be fortunate to speak their language.
In a multicultural classroom, the need for support in education is a constant struggle. There is no specific measures or standards that can help teachers. As a matter of fact, it is up to teachers to build strategies of trial-and-error in the multicultural classroom.