Diversity can mean many things. It’s important that each definition reflect the ability to accept and celebrate each other. Diversity is all the ways we’re unique and different from each other.
Diversity includes race, religion, spiritual beliefs, culture, physical ability, mental ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, education, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, family status, socio-economic circumstance, profession, language, health status, geographic location, group history, upbringing and life experiences.
Diversity competency is the ability to respond respectfully and effectively to people, families, and communities of all backgrounds in a way that protects and preserves their dignity while valuing their differences, similarities, and worth. Alberta’s student population is very diverse, thus teachers play a vital role in supporting students and developing strategies that show we value diversity.
To create a diverse classroom and school environment:
- view diversity as a strength
- integrate diversity themes throughout the curriculum to help students relate their lives and issues to classroom topics
- promote a flexible learning environment by recognizing the different learning styles among students
- develop teaching strategies that compliment different learning styles
- educate yourself about the diverse issues of students and their families
- respect qualities and experiences different from your own
- make your school and classroom free of negative jokes and comments
- use inclusive, affirming and gender-neutral language
- affirm gender and sexual diversity
- modify the physical environment to include symbols of diversity and acceptance
- encourage students to develop attitudes, knowledge and skills for recognizing and addressing stereotypes, bias, unfairness and discrimination