by Dorit Sasson
When you walk into the classroom for the first time and you see a sea of 30 student faces, you are, at that very moment, absorbing the physical diversity of your classroom – ethnicities, religion, languages, and multi-cultural backgrounds. But behind each face is a student. “How am I going to cater to all these abilities and levels without any stress and discipline problems?” is the question that teachers normally ask themselves.
When integrating your students in the diverse classroom, the most important piece teachers often fail to take into account when planning lessons is the bigger educational picture – honoring a student’s voice. It is when you are able to honor a student’s unique and rich voice, that you are able to truly able to make a personal connection.
What is Voice in a Diverse Classroom and Why is it So Important?
Honoring students voice is one of the highest educational values you can do for your diverse students. Every student enters the classroom with a rich story, but many don’t think their story is important to other students and to the teacher. Some of these students have witnessed terrible things, and they bring their emotional baggage with them to school. For many, school is the place off the streets. Lots of fears, hopes and dreams become tangled and this complicated web, becomes part of a student’s voice. Deep inside, they want to feel a sense of belonging, but often something gets in the way, which make them feel vulnerable.
How to Cater to a Student’s Voice?
In your classroom, you’ll have silent learners, learners who are much more active and learners who will be your faithful class leaders. You start by planning lessons that appeal to their levels and abilities. Evidence of their knowledge may confirm for you their level and ability, but at this point, you may still need some supplemental activities to integrate your students in the classroom community and increase their performance. You may need, for example:
1. An activity that encourages them to share part of their life story
2. Activities that encourage more student interaction around their life story
3. A game that promotes active listening
4. Fun activities to help students get to know one another
Incorporate these activities as part of your routine lesson planning but always with the bigger picture in mind – how to cater to the uniqueness of a student’s voice.
To learn more about Dorit Sasson, visit www.doritsasson.com