How to Create Culturally Responsive Lessons
The famous French novelist said:
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
In a class with the diverse student population, a good teacher is the one who has the ability to relate to the students from different cultural backgrounds and can effectively engage them in the class. Here, we will best strategies on how teachers can know more about their students, use language that students can relate to, and adopt the pedagogical content to suit a mixed class set.
Here are some top tips by primary school teachers and academic experts that you can use to win over your students with little effort:
Use the Two-by-Ten strategy to know your students
It’s easy and does not require a heavy investment of time and energy. Studies prove that spending just two minutes with a student for ten consecutive days with a student can improve his or her behavior by as much as 85%.
You can use these two minutes to develop a solid bond with the child and to know about his or her cultural and family background. Once you know the way a student thinks and his or her situation in the family and the society at large, it will be easier for you to encourage the student appropriately to learn better and do better in class.
Build instant rapport with your students with a dash of Humor
Being culturally responsive does not mean that you have to stroke one’s racial pride or focus on sob stories from different cultures. Skillful use of culturally-appropriate humor in classroom interactions or lesson plans makes it easier for you to keep your students attentive in class. Humor drives home key points quite successfully and helps students retain information better.
3 ways in which you can make sure what seems funny to you will not offend your students are:
- Avoid making fun of how other countries (and people belonging to that culture) respond to a particular situation.
- Do not crack jokes with racial or cultural undertones or ones that target an individual student in a class. Even if a class clown does not like it if other people crack jokes targeting him or her.
- If you doubt that a joke which you find hilarious will be well-accepted by students from other cultures or not, you might run it through other teachers (or friends) from different cultural backgrounds and see how they respond to it.
For example, Spanish and French people find dark and surreal jokes funny while the British love puns, irony, and satire. German and Swiss people like direct-to-the-point jokes while Italians love hand gestures and physical humor.
When you have a mixed class, you may throw-in funny lines that all students can laugh at. During one-to-one sessions, you may try to adapt your communication style to that of the student you are dealing with to bond with him or her better.
Speak in the Kids’ Language
Isn’t it amazing how people from different cultural and language backgrounds develop their own slang to express the same thing? Zulu for ‘How are you?’ is ‘Heita’. Afrikaans slang for ‘nice’ or ‘tasty’ is ‘lekker’. ‘Ciao’ is an Italian way to say ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’. ‘Chow’ is a common slang for ‘food’ in Chinese students. In Virgin Island, when they say ‘nasty’, they mean ‘really nice’ and when they say ‘it’s safe’, they mean ‘it’s cool’.
So, you see, different students may have different ways to express a thing. You may observe how kids talk and try to pick up the slangs they use and how they talk. You can then incorporate those words into your lessons.
You may also invite diverse guest speakers to address the class, and also initiate classroom discussions in which different students can share how they speak in a particular situation. These can foster some crucial cross-cultural communication skills in your class and bring the students together.
Dissertation help providers swear by this strategy. Robert Gitatchu, who is a tutor and dissertation writer, shares, “I mostly work with students who are not very good at studies. I find that when I match my communication style with the kid, they open up to me more easily and are able to share their problems and challenges with me more easily. They are also able to grasp what I teach better and remember it for a long time.”
Include Visuals and Stories representing all cultural groups
Contextualizing lessons to a diverse classroom is not as difficult as you might think. All you need to do is to make sure that the anecdotes and images you use in your lesson plans are representative of different cultural groups, including Spanish, British, American, Muslims, Asian, Blacks and all other major groups represented in your class.
You can also initiate discussions about real-world problems in class (to which your students can relate to) and use it as an opportunity to help your students explore cultural links they share with others in their world. The ethnic events happening all over the world can be discussed in the class to spread cultural awareness in students and to encourage them to think how diversity is something to be celebrated and not for breeding hatred and contempt for others.
Digital content, so freely available online, allows you to use high-quality graphics, games and virtual images that can easily put all students in active learners’ mode. You can also engage students in wonderful virtual experiences, such as a trip to the Moon, which can help them understand each other better.
One more tip for the First-Timers
If you are new to creating lesson design and content for culturally competent classrooms, you might want to download this self-auditing table. It will draw your attention to all the different aspects of teaching a class that celebrates student diversity.
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