I teach at a college in the middle-east and the students are made up of nationals, those born in the country to non-national parents and those whose were born in other countries, but their parents got jobs in the country. These three groups of students have different socioeconomic, religious and cultural backgrounds. They attended high schools with different teaching philosophies and languages. At the college the have enrolled in a English language Canadian based college.
Stephen Brookfield’s chapter on Teaching in Diverse Classroom got me thinking about the importance of acknowledging the diversity in the classroom. College maybe the first time students encounter students from different backgrounds then themselves. (Brookfield, 2015) For many of the first year students it may be the first time they are in the same classroom with someone of the opposite gender. It may also be their first time in an all English school, with English being their second or third language. They may speak excellent English, but they were never encouraged to speak in class or give an opinion. Public speaking and sharing your opinion is a skills needed to succeed in a college business program.
Brookfield discusses how to make students comfortable speaking in class about themselves and their prior experiences. He suggests using technology such as clickers or Kahoot! to give students the anonymity to answer the questions. (Brookfield, 2015, p. 100) Another important part of creating a comfortable environment for students to share in class is for the instructor to model the behaviour. The instructor should participate in discussions that require the disclosure of personal experience. (Brookfield, 2015, p. 101) Starting with general questions about their background and experience with the course topic can help to build students comfort and confidence speaking up in class.
Over time students who self-segregated in first year develop relationships across cultural divides. I believe the diversity in the classroom helps students when they enter the work force because students will work in a diversity environment. It also prepare students for leadership roles. I believe helping students become comfortable and successful in a diverse classroom is an important task for an instructor.
Brookfield, S. (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust and Responsiveness in the Classroom. In S. Brookfield, The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust and Responsiveness in the Classroom (pp. 97-109). San Fransisco: Josey-Bass.