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Students learn more than science and math in the classroom – they discover how to be in society. One’s experience in school may have a lifelong impact on their self-esteem, mental health and view on relationships. To ensure that future society functions respectfully, teachers must incorporate inclusivity into the classroom.
Inclusivity is developed in school when instructors place students of diverse backgrounds, abilities and social levels together. The normalization of differences in growing ages promotes the respect and understanding of diversity. Classrooms provide a space for a kid’s first relationships outside of their family.
Connecting with different children is vital to the development of civic participation, community and a successful career life. Teachers may promote inclusivity by embracing diversity, keeping a positive atmosphere, offering different learning styles and utilizing a strength-based approach. These minimal classroom changes can prepare a student for life outside of school.
Many students hold adverse feelings about connecting with peers that differ from them. It may seem intimidating or uncomfortable to face the abnormalities of their own culture or values. Rather than promoting the restriction of acceptance and allowing like-minded students to work together, place differing students together during group activities.
When students of different backgrounds and learning abilities work together, they can learn about their differences and what they have in common. This also provides a space for kids to be open, authentic and vulnerable, to develop understanding and compassion towards one another.
As different students work and play together, they experience cultural and behavioral differences. This is an effective tool for developing inclusivity because it allows students to learn on their own time at their own comfort level. As an instructor, it is essential to support children in their development of this skill. Promote positive communication between students so they may find comfort in vulnerable situations.
When encouraging inclusivity in the classroom, it is essential to eliminate hate and negative language. If the instructor uses positive vocabulary, they act as a role model for other student conversations in the classroom. When different students work together, they may feel opposed to accepting someone different from them because it is uncomfortable and makes them question their values and beliefs.
Unfortunately, this may lead kids to act out and say hurtful things. When you create a positive atmosphere in the classroom, it organically signals to students that negative language has no place there. Teachers may create this environment by:
- restricting their use of threatening, shaming or sarcastic forms of redirecting.
- giving specific praise.
- using behavior-approving phrases, rather than telling students what they cannot do.
- keeping a happy tone and facial expression while communicating with students.
Positivity breeds inclusivity. When students are kind to each other, they are less likely to exclude peers based on their differences. Framing change and cultural variation as beneficial to a group project’s overall function can help students see the good in each other.
Offer Different Learning Styles
The traditional lecture class structure only caters to one type of learner. There are four different learning styles that teachers must incorporate to promote inclusivity in their curriculum. Visual, auditory, reading and writing and kinesthetic learners may benefit from varying teaching approaches.
Visual learners benefit from the conventional chalkboard teaching method. These students are holistic processors who prefer information presented as a whole rather than in steps. To better cater to their learning style, teachers may utilize slide shows, charts, diagrams, and other visual aids.
Auditory learners respond well when information is presented vocally rather than visually. Students who benefit from this learning style work well in group settings. Here students can both hear material from their peers and teach it to others.
Reading and Writing
Students that efficiently learn when reading and writing benefit from note-taking. These students are independent learners and struggle to interpret information in a group setting. Teachers may promote in-depth note-taking among these students and provide individual reading time for adequate comprehension.
Kinesthetic learners benefit from hands-on experiences. They need to see and feel materials and processes to comprehend them effectively. Instructors can include kinesthetic techniques into their curriculum by utilizing flashcards, experiments and fieldwork.
Another method for promoting acceptance and inclusion in the classroom is to adopt a strength-based approach. In conventional classroom settings, many instructors focus on keeping all students at a learning baseline. This influences the identification of characteristics that are wrong with a student’s development or learning style.
Rather than focusing on a child’s shortcomings, identify their strengths first. All students excel in some area of development, from character traits to communication. When children see their peers’ strengths, they are more likely to include them in a classroom setting, regardless of their struggles.
Each class is different, so not all inclusivity techniques will work for each section of students. Depending on the individuals in your class and their backgrounds, learning styles and abilities may vary. Evaluate your students’ differences and cater to their needs. When all students feel supported by the instructor, they can better support and include their peers.
Looking for more insights on diversity and inclusivity in the classroom? Check out these resources from our reading list:
Student Diversity: Teaching Strategies to Meet the Learning Needs of All Students in K-10 Classrooms (Amazon) by Faye Brownlie, Catherine Feniak and Leyton Schnellert
Reading the Rainbow: LGBTQ-Inclusive Literacy Instruction in the Elementary Classroom (Amazon) by Caitlin L. Ryan and Jill M. Hermann-Wilmarth
Teaching Fairly in an Unfair World (Amazon) by Kathleen Gould Lundy