Canadian classrooms are getting more and more diverse every year, so it is important for teachers to keep up with their students and provide them with resources and learning opportunities that foster safe, open, and diverse learning environments.
Scholar's Choice strives to include products, toys, and resources that make all Canadians feel represented and included in the classroom and the home. Read on for suggestions from our experts on how you can continue to make your classroom an inclusive space for all students.
1. Include images of people that represent different ethnicities, shapes, sizes, abilities, and clothing in your handouts, activities, posters, and games.It is important to include resources that feature a diverse cast of people, regardless of unit of study. In the past, "diversity" was included in the curriculum as a unit of study, but experts agree that it is important for classrooms to reflect the varied people of the world every day, rather than at a certain time of year. Scholar's Choice has puzzles, posters, books, toys, and resources that ensure people of all cultures and abilities are represented in your classroom.
2. Invite guest speakers into your classroom
Guest speakers can be a great way to learn about different people in your community. Many schools have a list of speakers that have a partnership with your school division, and many Canadian schools have an Elder in Residence program. Utilize these resources!
3. Include classroom signs in multiple languages
Many teachers have a poster or sign that outlines how to say "Welcome" or "Hello" in different languages, but why not extend that idea to other areas of your classroom? Include other languages on your hall passes, your exit signs, and your calendars. Let your practice evolve and grow over the years to include languages from students past and present. If you have a student who speaks Cantonese this year, and one who speaks Cree next year, leave each language on the wall. Pretty soon you will have a classroom full of language. It will be fun to introduce the phrases to each class, and ask for others to be added.
4. Create global pen pal friendships
There are many resources out there that connect classrooms all over the world, and pen pals is a fabulous way to practice writing skills and meet new people. Let your students decide which country they would like to communicate with! Here are two resources for pen pal programs to get you started:
5. Take field trips to cultural events in your community
Museum tours, cultural centers, and historic sites are all great ways to show students a wide variety of people and places. Ask parents at the start of the year whether they have any field trip suggestions, you may be surprised what is unearthed when you look to your school community!
This link provides a list of programs about deepening knowledge of Aboriginal education:
6. Encourage students to talk about the problems they see in their school and in the media
Having open, honest discussion is important for children to learn about viewpoints different than their own. Create a list of prejudices they have recently witnessed and discuss them as a group. Extend their learning by creating resources about these prejudices, and share them with the school or community.
7. Always keep learning!
As a teacher it is your responsibility to your students to continue your journey in education as well as encouraging theirs. Here is a Diversity Toolkit from the University of Calgary that provides many great tools for both teachers and students to make their classroom a safe place for all people.
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