|Canadian schools are becoming increasingly diverse. In 2006, 10.5 percent of school-aged children came from immigrant families. Statistics Canada predicts that by 2017, more than one Canadian in five might be foreign-born.The increasing diversity in Canadian schools has brought attention to a rising need—to embrace the cultures of the children we teach. After all, culture is central to learning—it influences how we think, how we communicate with one other and how we receive and process information. Culturally responsive classrooms recognize this. They not only respect a student’s cultural identity, but also use it in meaningful ways to optimize learning. For more information on culturally responsive classrooms, keep reading.|
Learn about customs from families
Open the communication lines
Look for people at school or within the community to help translate letters and other communications to address any language barriers. Promote the translation service on a business card magnet or magnetic bookmark. It may also be helpful to develop informal networks that link parents who speak the same language—this could be useful in overcoming communication barriers and to provide support to those who may be feeling isolated. Provide meeting dates and times, coffee and an empty classroom where these informal networks can gather. Promote these gatherings via email, mailers and on posters throughout the school.
Incorporate inclusive classroom learning tools and people
Encourage the appreciation of, learning about and sharing of other cultures in lesson plans. Consider assignments where students can learn about the culture of someone else in the classroom. Have them either draw a picture or write an essay about what they learned, and award ribbons or star-shaped buttons for winning examples. Or provide a journal and ask students to write about topics such as their own culture, trips to places with different cultures, or the cultures of friends or family members that they’ve learned about.
Respecting and incorporating the cultures of those in the classroom can make an enormous difference when it comes to education. Culturally responsive classrooms can help build confidence, provide inclusivity and optimize learning among all students.
“Some Facts About the Demographic and Ethnocultural Composition of the Population.” Statistics Canada. Web. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
“Being Culturally Responsive.” Teaching Tolerance. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 09 Sept. 2013.
“Culturally Responsive Teaching.” Theknowledgeloom.org. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 5 Sept. 2013.
“TEACHERS.” Scholastic Teachers. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 05 Sept. 2013.
“Responsive Classroom.” Welcoming Families of Different Cultures. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 10 Sept. 2013.
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