Multicultural K-12 classrooms have become a focal point for global diversity and inclusion. As classroom leaders, educators face the challenge of bringing young minds from diverse backgrounds together. Doing so enables each person to feel heard, empowered and respected for who they are.
Creating an open environment of diversity and inclusion is a critical and challenging task for teachers. Rising to that challenge requires teachers to develop cultural intelligence and understand how culturally based beliefs and practices impact teaching, learning and performance.
Students already live in a technologically networked world, allowing them to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures easily. A teacher’s challenge is helping students learn from, appreciate and benefit from the cultural differences they are exposed to in our interconnected world.
What Is Global Diversity and Inclusion?
The simplest definition of global diversity and inclusion involves recognizing and respecting everyone for what makes them unique. This includes people’s age, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity and national origin.
The idea is to empower each individual by making them equal members in any group setting. For people in leadership positions, including educators, it also means ensuring diverse viewpoints are heard, no matter how they might challenge the preconceived beliefs of others.
The Importance of Global Diversity and Inclusion
It’s difficult to overstate the positive impact that diversity and inclusiveness have on groups of people. From students in a classroom to adults in a workplace, everyone benefits from the input of people from multiple cultural backgrounds. For example, studies show that gender, age and ethnically diverse groups make better decisions 87% of the time.
Developing a truly global and intercultural outlook is a lifelong process that has its beginning in the classroom. Schools are uniquely positioned to encourage cultural sensitivity and respect from a young age. Teachers can create student experiences that build their support for diverse people, languages and cultures.
Teachers also help students widen their understanding of their place in the world community. This broadening perspective opens the world beyond the narrow lens of their background.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) breaks down what it calls “global competency” into four main areas. They provide a framework for what makes a good global citizen in the 21st century:
- Understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others
- Engage in open and effective interactions across cultures
- Examine local, global and intercultural issues
- Take action for collective well-being and sustainable development
Including Global Diversity and Inclusion in the Classroom
Fresno Pacific University offers professional development courses for educators motivated to incorporate global diversity and inclusion in the classroom and better understand how their own cultural beliefs impact themselves and their students.
Two Fresno Pacific courses in this area are Cultural Intelligence in Education and Multicultural Literature and Teaching. In these courses, teachers learn to build lesson plans that teach students about global diversity and inclusion. They also examine ways to develop a diverse and inclusive mindset.
Educators in the Multicultural Literature and Teaching course learn to incorporate multicultural literature into their curriculum. The course includes advice on finding and evaluating multicultural books to ensure they are suitable and align with the standard curriculum.
The Cultural Intelligence in Education course focuses on teachers developing a personalized plan for increasing their cultural intelligence, allowing them to function effectively in diverse educational settings.
The benefits of both courses include the ability to create lesson plans to incorporate into the classrooms immediately. Educators in these courses can also discuss challenges and exchange ideas with their peers, discover new global diversity and inclusion resources and develop strategies to meet the educational needs of culturally and ethnically diverse populations.