Inclusive Education-Diversity & Difference Part 1
What are the different forms of diversity you observe within the classroom and school?
Cultural diversity – I see many different cultures represented in the classroom in both the student population and in printed material around the room. The classroom pictures I have included highlight the many different cultures in this school. It truly is a microcosm of the world’s cultures. Of note: I looked for books/pictures of children with physical handicaps and saw none.
Religious diversity – in my school religious diversity is shown in the manner of dress and ways they wear their hair. For example, a Sikh boy will be wearing a turban, an Indigenous youngster wears their long hair braided, a Muslim girl wears a hijab. Other than the outward appearance as the only indicator. I have not witnessed the Muslim children having an opportunity to face East to pray during the day.Christianity and other religions/beliefs that do not have any outward identifying marks probably are present but are not easily noticed. No one wearing crosses or such. Although, next week I will take closer notice.
Diverse teaching strategies – in these last four weeks I have noticed many and varied teaching methods intended to reach every learning style. I found that the diversity enriched the learning environment and kept the children interested.
Linguistic diversity – although there is at least one culturally different language spoken it is admonished and the children were told to only speak English. I thought of the experiences of children in residential schools and how they must have felt. However, when I spoke with a staff member at the school I work at and asked her what their response is to children speaking to each other in their own mother tongue she said they discourage it. Why? Because she said it is rude to the other students when they are not partial to what is being said.
Diverse learners – there are students who would rather visit with one another than stay on task. Others like to do others work for them instead of finishing their own. Of course, ever teachers blessing are the students who do their work well in a reasonable time. However, there is the odd student who does a mediocre job, because they pay no heed to neatness, and is finished early, but he/she is done. Then there are the students who would rather not be sitting at a desk at all and try all manner of Houdini moves to escape both their work and the room – no kidding.
Family diversity – The many definitions of family include the traditional nuclear family, same-sex parents, lone parent households – which could be the result of death, divorce, separation or abandonment, or even children in a foster parent situation. These are not readily noticed nor am I aware of the individual student’s circumstances. However, I believe each of these family units are evident in this school community.
Teacher diversity – at my school there is a predominance of white female teachers. Even the principal is a teacher. Out of 34 staff members only 8 are male and they are white as well, excepting the custodian who seems to be of Asian descent.
What may be some forms of diversity that are not visible?
The forms of diversity that I have not seen in my host school are students with a physical handicap, hearing disability, blindness, or mental incapacity. Although there are students that have troubles with behaviour that is acceptable within the classroom. There does not seem to be an income disparity in this school compared to an inner city school where there is sometimes a noticeable difference in the ‘haves’ and the have-nots’.
In what ways do you observe the school, classrooms and teachers honouring inclusive practices?
Accepting cultural/religious norms are evident as the children from different backgrounds are allowed to both attend the school and their culture is honoured because they are able to express their upbringing in tangible ways. Inclusive practices that I witnessed are adapting a lesson to engage students in their learning strengths; students of varying abilities are equally encouraged and supported in their work and understanding of concepts being presented; books and pictures of diverse cultures are very evident. The degree of respect necessary for success in honouring inclusiveness is impressive. All children are respected and taught to respect others – even if this means being assisted by another principal/teacher/assistant in another room until he/she is ready to respect his fellow classmates and his/her teacher before being admitted back with everyone.
Tuesday, 8 November 2016, 11:07 AM
by Lisa P
You are so thorough in describing the diversity in your school, I wish I had mentioned a few more. Family diversity, for instance, is one that is very common in our school and others. I feel like this one is an important one to remember when discussing activities that include parent involvement, so we don't accidentally exclude a child. I recall last week when I was placed in the grade two classroom, the children were preparing for 3 way Conferences (previously known as 'parent teacher conferences), the teacher said "when you bring your Moms, Dads, Grandmas or Grandpas..." In the moment it seemed the teacher was reminded how diverse her students family lives were. Thanks for the reminder!