Different cultures within any classroom
As a teacher in a classroom in the Middle-East, you will be interacting with a diverse mix of students from different cultural backgrounds.
In fact, the Middle East is one of the most culturally diverse regions of the world since people from across the globe come here looking for better opportunities. You are likely to find many students from countries, languages, and cultures, different from yours, sitting before you under one roof.
Navigating this diversity can be intimidating, especially if your experience has mostly been with homogeneous classrooms.
However, keeping a few useful tips in mind, you will be able to tackle the diversity and even use it to your advantage in the classroom!
● Educate yourself and be mindful
Being the teacher, it is your responsibility to educate yourself first about the culture of your students. Your students look up to you and if you make a misstep, make an inappropriate comment, or promote a stereotype, it could affect the way your students then view that culture. Take the time to talk to your students, and their parents, to understand their backgrounds better and how these factors could affect their behaviour and performance in the classroom.
● Bring Diversity into your lesson plans
It is commonly acknowledged that textbooks are not always representative of the students using them. If the teaching material is not diverse enough, go the extra mile and try to incorporate elements from different cultures into your teaching. For instance, if you are telling a story, let the characters be from different cultures, give them names that students in your class can relate to. Introduce literature from different cultures into the classroom. Small changes like these can make your teaching more inclusive.
● Activities to promote cross-cultural understanding among students
Learning about the cultures, customs, challenges, and perspectives of peers from different backgrounds help students become more empathetic and aware. Celebrate important festivals from different cultures, with students sharing how they celebrate with their families, and even sharing food with the classroom. Have activities which promote cultural understanding, such as asking students to share stories their parents told them as kids. Do not hesitate to have open, honest discussions about stereotypes students may have encountered or negative experiences they may have had because they looked or dressed a certain way. These discussions can help students be more mindful and tolerant of peers who may not look, dress, or talk like them. Remember, your role as a teacher is not limited to helping your students do well academically. You have great influence over the people they will grow up to be. By creating a safe, collaborative learning environment, you will help shape your students to be more empathetic,
mindful, and open-minded adults.