Experienced educator and leader, David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico, shares the importance of demonstrating sensitivity in diverse groups.
The United States is a culturally diverse country, and ethnic populations have continued to increase significantly over the past decade. Young students will grow up to be members of our society, regardless of their background and culture. David Lougee of Silver City explains that teachers have the responsibility to ensure that all their students not only comprehend the material but also feel comfortable in their environment.
Teachers can start creating culturally sensitive classrooms by embracing the diversity in their students, both culturally and linguistically. Unfortunately, it is common for our school system to ignore the strengths of diverse students, which leads to a disconnect in the classroom. According to David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico, the issue is defined as subtractive schooling, where knowing another language, for example, may be seen as a bad thing instead of something positive.
David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico notes that schools should put students of color in the same programs as other students, instead of in low-level classes. Setting high expectations and providing support has helped minority students succeed alongside their peers. David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico explains that in addition to regular classes, minority students may benefit from the AVID program, which covers hidden curriculum like how to study and which courses to take.
Smaller class sizes greatly benefit diverse students who have more time to connect individually with their instructors. However, David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico explains that smaller class sizes are not always possible. In those instances, teachers should try to get to know their students better in order to implement culturally responsive education.
David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico describes culturally responsive education as using background information to make learning more relevant and effective. When you know your students, you will be able to connect better and reduce behavior problems overall. A safe learning environment will be made where students feel comfortable to ask questions and work together.
There are more specific approaches that teachers and educators can implement to promote culturally sensitive classrooms.David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico notes that the first approach is strategic group work. Young students often thrive when surrounded by peers that they can relate to. David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico recommends pairing culturally diverse students together for projects to increase their interaction with others.
Adjusting wait time is another excellent method to use in the classroom. After asking a question or giving directions, David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico suggests waiting longer before calling on a student to respond. Studies have shown that students from different cultures and backgrounds may take more time to think critically before answering.
On the other hand, David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico notes that there are also students who may come to an answer twice as fast. It is the teacher’s responsibility to observe these behaviors before assuming students are either unresponsive or acting out by speaking quickly. And finally, David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico recommends being sensitive and empathetic towards all students and their families.