Culturally responsive teaching and the brain strategies transform the learning space into a melting pot of cultures. This method not only accelerates the overall learning capacity of students but also improves their cultural understanding.
In a way, it prepares students for their adulthood and helps them to become more culturally tolerant in the real sense!
Intelligentsia has acknowledged the power of culturally responsive education
for developing cultural competency in students.
This means that we need more culturally responsive educators to foster this much-
needed cultural competence in students.
Let’s explore some benefits of cultural diversity and their future implications for learners-
- Nurtures Relevant Skillsets for the Diverse Workforce:
For global citizenship, our students need to be engaged citizens in the first place. This means that they should be capable of interacting and accommodating with people from diverse backgrounds.
At any stage of life, it is a great quality to handle diversity with grace and these skills are also ideal to be an active member of any group. These are also essential to work creatively and collaboratively and helps a lot in realizing a common goal.
Hence, the appreciation of diverse ethnicity is important at both the workforce level and for worthy citizenship in adulthood. So, it is believed that the middle and high school stages of education are ideal to develop these competencies in learners.
- Cultural Competence –An Important 21st Century Skill:
We already know that the foundation of futuristic skillsets in students is the ladder to their success. Hence, by fostering cultural competency in our students, we can improve their social skills which also improves their self-awareness.
Culturally responsive teaching and the brain are also linked with positive behavior, because when students have these skills they are likely to face fewer complications in accepting diversity around them.
In other words, we need to teach them the art of knowing how to overlook differences. This is how they can learn to adjust and accommodate themselves with people and situations at times.
- Reduces Negativity in Various Domains of Life:
Discrimination, biases, taboos, social ostracism, and other negative forces in this world all have serious repercussions. These can be addressed by appreciating diverse ethnicity in their original form.
Culturally responsive teaching builds the right pedagogy that nurtures virtues like
goodwill, patience, mutual respect and tolerance in students.
And this is another important reason why top accredited online schools and the best traditional institutions train their teachers to incorporate these strategies in the instructional delivery.
Here’s a list of 6 practical strategies that a teacher can use to promote cultural competency in students-
Strategy 1: Celebrating Diversity Through Live Examples
Remember the theory ‘Constructivism’ and its foundation concept – active construction of knowledge is possible from past experiences….. I am sure you have already applied this one in your teaching numerous times.
By using the student’s existing knowledge, you can easily add culturally relevant elements to your classroom.
During your regular instructions, deliberately add examples of people from marginalized groups, minorities and varied ethnic communities. These cultural diversity examples can be elaborated as per the topic and the target audience and the idea is to keep the message strong and impactful.
Let me explain this further with a simple example of a history class where you are discussing the virtues of some national heroes.
While explaining the journey of some great historical characters, you can add elements from their ethnic background and further, relate it with their attitude, approach, and situation handling skills. Isn’t it easy to add these additional pieces of information to highlight the character’s background?
Such attempts will add value to your instructions and simultaneously it will glorify the colorful heritage of different ethnic groups.
Strategy 2: Bring Out the Learner’s Rich Experiences
Culturally responsive teaching and the brain connections are incomplete without real-life experiences of learners. For an educator, a heterogeneous mix of students is a wonderful opportunity to create a mixed bag of information without much research.
Come up with activities where students have an opportunity to speak about their
Ask them one thing that makes them feel proud about their culture.
Such simple activities are enriching for the impressionable minds of students and you will get a pool of cultural knowledge from the group itself.
Use their racial diversity to bank upon the strengths of various cultures and create opportunities to appreciate all ethnic groups for their notable contributions to society.
You can also make the learners (from various geographical regions) speak about the topography of their land, soil fertility, staple food, etc. Do not forget to discuss possible solutions and mechanisms to improve life in their native land.
Students who belong to remote areas or countryside can give some great insights to their urban peers and again the ones from densely populated urban areas can discuss the issues related to globalization that they face in day-to-day life.
All this can be easily linked with the information/topics of their ongoing courses and the teacher can wrap up by appreciating the uniqueness of each group.
These practices are effective in creating a positive learning environment where each student feels connected with the other. Make sure you highlight the importance and interdependence of each ethnic group in the society and reiterate that each one is playing a vital role in society.
Strategy 3: Collaborative and Peer Learning
Another way to build cultural tolerance in students is to directly expose learners to completely opposite cultures by arranging collaborative activities. For a teacher, this can be a part of the lesson planning, wherein he/she can decide an activity with small groups.
Simple projects with some hot topics or some research work can be allocated to students and they can present their findings collectively. Make sure you create a good mix of students and allow them enough time to prepare for the project.
Again the facilitator must underline the benefits of cultural diversity appreciating all efforts before the class ends.
Strategy 4: Creating a Safe Classroom to Voice Opinions Freely
Globally, the idea of education today is to inculcate values of mutual respect in students for each group present in the society. Hence, be it the best online high school or a physical classroom, a sense of respect for all cultures is the cornerstone in our inclusive education system.
In a safe classroom, expectation setting is quite important. As an educator, you need to minimize chances of negativity, mockery or ironical statements at all times. Your classroom should be a safe and respectful place for each student. Equal encouragement should be given for genuine efforts and out-of-the-box thinking to all students.
Remember that intellectually advanced work is possible in a supportive environment. Culturally responsive teaching and the brain can together help learners only in a worry-free learning environment.
Strategy 5: Incorporate Technology Wisely
Technology has the power to shrink the world by connecting people, cultures and ethnic groups virtually. Its use is great to explain the benefits of cultural diversity to learners.
YouTube videos, virtual tours and immersive experiences are perfect to develop cultural understanding. So make use of some great applications like Google Arts & Culture, Historypin, and Barefoot World Atlas, etc. to engage your students effectively.
This power of technology will help you to appraise your students with racial diversity, cross-cultural challenges, individual strengths of these groups effectively. The best part is that it will be fun and informative at the same time.
Strategy 6: Some Extra Efforts by the Teacher
As a teacher, it is important for you to acknowledge all inputs from students equally and even better to probe for more perspectives or let the students think out-of-the-box.
Your classroom should have a welcoming ambiance for all perspectives.
This technique is not just good for developing cultural understanding, but also helps in
developing lateral thinking.
Other than this as a teacher, you must convey a message of equality through your body language and selection of words. There should be acceptance and acknowledgment for different cultural styles of communication within the class.
For example- there can be different verbiages and names of commodities across diverse ethnic groups. So this information can be again collated and effectively used as cultural diversity examples.
Create a classroom that considers every single response/individual and effort ‘IMPORTANT’ and the message for cultural tolerance will be loud and clear for all!
Today, when the world is combating the sinister effects of a global pandemic, these culturally responsive teaching and the brain strategies are ideal to realize the broad aims of new-age learning.
The future belongs to more sensitive, productive and culturally tolerant individuals who can emerge victorious in any environment!
Thanks for reading!
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