Classroom Sensitivity as a Center for Successful Learning Experience
When teaching a class of students of different ages, genders, religions, and cultures, a teacher must take each of these things into consideration to be sure that all of the students feel that they are being provided with a safe learning environment. Of each of these, one of the most commonly discussed topics that teachers need to be aware of is cultural sensitivity.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Rachel O. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
There are many different situations in which a teacher can ensure that students not only feel that their culture is being celebrated within the classroom but also have an opportunity to learn about cultures different than their own. To do this, the teacher needs to be aware of all of the various cultures that are represented within their classroom. This can be done by ensuring that the teacher places an emphasis on the cultural background of the students and includes the research of the student’s backgrounds into the curriculum of the course.
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After completing research into the student’s cultural background, the teacher will have a better understanding of the cultures that they should try to include in the remainder of the activities in the course. The teacher can help students feel that their culture is being included within the course by incorporating a wide variety of cultural influences into an assignment. For example, when discussing artists, or authors a teacher may choose to discuss individuals who are not only from the country and culture in which the class is being taught but also include individuals of the cultures of students who identify with a culture not found in the area the class is being taught.
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In addition to celebrating the cultural differences that may be present among the students in a teacher’s classroom, it is also important that a teacher respect the cultural traditions of the country in which they are teaching. In many situations, the majority of the students within a classroom will identify with the culture of the country in which the class is being taught. Due to this, the teacher should be sure to implement the cultural behaviors of the country into their behavior in the classroom. If a teacher is traveling to a country where a culture unlike their own is commonly found, the teacher should do extensive research on things such as speech, dress codes, and physical gestures, as often these things are viewed very differently across different cultures and a teacher could accidentally disrespect or insult someone due to a lack of knowledge. Teachers should expect to use formal manners of speech when addressing individuals when they first arrive at the country, as it may take time to learn when an informal manner of speech would be appropriate and when it may be found insulting. The teacher should also take into consideration that jokes, sarcasm, and references to aspects of their own culture may not be understood by students who are unfamiliar with these items. Teachers should refrain from implementing these things into their conversations with their students, as it may make the students uncomfortable and feel disconnected from the teacher.
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Teachers must ensure to emphasize cultural sensitivity within their classroom. Students can only truly learn if they feel that they are in a safe learning environment, and the inclusion of cultural differences is an ideal way to ensure that students feel included and valued and therefore free to learn in the best way possible.
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