Friday, April 23, 2010

In our discussion on diversity in the classroom, we began by getting to know one another a little bit better. By sharing where we come from and how we identify, we began to get a sense of how our own identities as teachers can affect classroom dynamics.

We went on to discuss some benefits of diversity in the classroom and heard some great points. One strength that many people noticed was that a diverse classroom means that if one or two students understand the example used by an instructor, they can then translate that example or skill to others in the class. Different students understand different things based on their backgrounds, and by fostering a community where students feel free to engage with one another, everyone ends up learning more and students can teach each other.

We also discussed how forming groups for classwork or small-group discussion can be a challenge when students prefer to stay in their comfort zone whether for cultural, linguistic, or other reasons. We brainstormed ways to form groups that sometimes allow students to self-select, but also allow instructors to mix personalities, skill levels, and backgrounds so that students can work with and benefit from their classmates.

Overall, our discussion was very fruitful and really opened a good space to think about how our identities as teachers and students can affect learning.

The following link might be useful if anyone would like more resources pertaining to our discussion:

http://teaching.berkeley.edu/bgd/diversity.html

The topic of the website is Diversity and Complexity in the Classroom:Considerations of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender. They have many interesting information for teaching in cultural diversity classroom; for example, Tactics for Overcoming Stereotypes and Biases, course content and materials, assignment and exam and also extracurricular activities.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing about this topic. I think many instructors don't understand it well. They think, "Oh, my subject matter is objective, so who cares if my students are a different ethnicity/gender/socioeconomic class from me?"

    It's just not that simple! Personal identities (ours and our students') cause us all to approach even the same subject matter differently, and I think that when we as instructors deny these differences, our students feel alienated and don't care about our beloved subjects.

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