Being a minority student can be extremely difficult, especially for children who are recent migrants to the US. As research has shown, minority students often differ in the ways that they learn and communicate (Banks, 2006; Pewewardy, 2008). Unfortunately, these cultural differences can turn into barriers that not only separate them from optimal learning, but also from support. Minority studies can become marginalized by their peers and ultimately bullied for being different. Due to this, educators should do their best to become culturally competent teachers. There are several steps that educators can take to affectively teach minority students, and the following will discuss them in depth.
The first step that educators should take is to learn about different cultural practices. Educators should be actively attending cultural competence workshops. They should be aware of the racial disparities in their school districts, and they should ask students questions about their cultures. Educators should never make assumptions regarding a student’s background and if possible, they should try to become allies with their school’s minority parents. Building a sound relationship with the parents of their minority students will reinforce cultural learning that cannot take place in the school environment and provide a different perspective of the minority experience.
The second step in affectively teaching minority students is to become familiar with cultural differences in learning. For example, African American and Latino students tend to do well academically with cooperative learning methods (Aronson & Gonzales 1988). In contrast, Asian Pacific American students may be deterred from participating in class due to their culture’s emphasis on humility and not boasting (Li & Wang, 2008). Being aware of these nuances can aid educators in avoiding discrimination in the learning environment and can help them develop strategies to connect with their students.
Thirdly, educators should be introspective and self-aware. They should be asking themselves questions such as, how might my presence be affecting my students? What stereotypes do I have? What biases do I have? Do my biases affect the way that I relate to my minority students? Being self-aware and honest with oneself can counteract the implicit and explicit biases that we all have.
Lastly and most importantly, educators should teach in a way that incorporates cultural diversity. To cater to your minority students, you should use as many learning styles as possible. These include: logical-mathematical, linguistic, musical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, naturalistic, and even intrapersonal (Gardner, 2006). According to Morgan (2010) doing so can create a more democratic setting for diverse students and empower them. Thus, educators should attempt to create an environment of acceptance for their minority students. By behaving in a manner that is culturally competent, they act as models for their majority students while synonymously becoming supporters of their minority students.
Aronson, E., & Gonzalez, A. (1988). Desegregation, jigsaw, and the Mexican-American experience. In Eliminating racism (pp. 301-314). Springer US.
BANKS, S. W. O. J. A. (2006). RACE CULTURE AND EDUCATION THE SELECTED WORKS OF JAMES A BANKS WORLD LIBRARY EDUCATIONALISTS PDF.
Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New horizons. Basic books.
Li, G., & Wang, L. (2008). Model minority myth revisited: An interdisciplinary approach to demystifying Asian American educational experiences. IAP.
Morgan, H. (2010). Improving schooling for cultural minorities: The right teaching styles can make a big difference. Educational Horizons, 88(2), 114-120.
Pewewardy, C. (2008). Identity and names: We must define ourselves to escape linguistic imperialism. Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education, 19(3).