A large percentage of our student population in Kentucky and across the United States come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Additionally, students entering our classrooms with varying abilities, disabilities, readiness-levels, and learning profiles need to be considered when designing lessons. Research shows that race, ethnicity, cultural background, and poverty-level, can significantly influence a student’s academic achievement. Addressing the unique needs of all students is one of the major challenges facing public education today.
Inclusion in Education
These factors highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion in education. There are many innovative and effective instructional practices that enable teachers to consider the many features of their students including differentiating instruction, culturally responsive instruction, linguistically responsive instruction, gifted instruction, and special education instruction.
Teacher Preparation Programs
Teacher preparation programs include program sequences with courses focused on using students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds as well as considering students’ characteristics, traits, and abilities. Courses are often designed to emphasize the learning theory behind differentiating instruction, culturally responsive instruction, linguistically responsive instruction, gifted instruction, and special education instruction and provide opportunities to implement these practices in a clinical setting.
Implementing effective differentiated instruction includes learning about student’s communities and incorporating students’ backgrounds, characteristics, and abilities into lesson planning. Students are often more engaged and excited to learn when they know their teacher is developing personally relatable lessons. Incorporating diverse backgrounds can significantly enhance the learning experience for all individuals and developing and implementing instruction becomes easier when a teacher understands the unique needs of their students. Teaching with diversity and inclusion in mind is just good teaching!
By: Jason Miller, Ph.D, assistant professor, EKU Department of Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership
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