Classroom Diversity: An Introduction to Student Differences
In this module, you learned about a number of the most important aspects of student diversity: cultural, linguistic, exceptionalities, and socio-economic status. You learned, too, that the perceptions that teachers bring with them to the classroom can be shaped by their background knowledge and life experiences. Those perceptions can also be based on stereotypes, which may or may not be accurate. Wherever they come from, teacher perceptions influence how they view their students and their students’ families. When teachers are aware of this tendency, however, and when they take the time to get to know their students better, they are able to respond to them more objectively. Moreover, teachers need to understand the ways in which their perceptions might influence their expectations for their students and, subsequently, the ways in which they teach. For this reason, in addition to getting to know their students, teachers should use a range of instructional strategies and supports when working with a diverse classroom of students. When teachers understand the following considerations, they are more likely to create successful learning experiences for all of their students.
|Diversity||What teachers should understand|
|Cultural||Instruction might be confusing to students if their cultural experiences or background knowledge are different from or inconsistent with those of their teacher.|
|Linguistic||Mastering academic content might be difficult for students who are not proficient in English.|
|Exceptionalities||A disability might affect a student’s learning, and therefore the teacher might need to make instructional adjustments if the student is to be successful.|
|Socioeconomic||Students might not have access to additional educational resources and supports outside of school.|
Lanette Waddell, PhD
Former Assistant Professor
Former TLUS Director
In this audio, Lanette Waddell, former Director of Teaching and Learning in Urban Schools (TLUS), suggests ways that teachers can better get to know their students (time: 2:56).
Revisiting Initial Thoughts
Think back to your initial responses to the following questions. After working through the resources in this module, do you still agree with your Initial Thoughts? If not, what aspects of your answers would you change?