Wednesday, 20 December 2017 06:41

How Teachers Can Help Students from Various Ethnic Backgrounds and with Learning Disabilities Experience Academic Success Featured

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Immigration is a major occurrence in the United States. The 2002 census established that 10% of the population comprised persons who were foreign-born (Ravitch, 2002). The expectation for public schools that they should teach children their ethnic and racial heritage has caused giant practical problems. Diversity implies that lessons or curriculum taught in schools vary with the particular racial make-up of the school. For example, schools that are predominantly Hispanic in composition will learn a specific set of lessons. The same is expected of schools that are predominantly a specific ethnic or racial group. The problem comes in consideration of how to teach American history or literature to a school that is ethnically mixed. Diverse students also have varying learning abilities. It is essential for educators to have knowledge about the diversity of students because an effective learning curriculum reflects the varying needs of the individual students or learners.

Perhaps, the first requirement is a philosophical commitment of a teacher to the diversity of students. The teacher needs to appreciate that the people’s learning differences are natural and positive. This philosophy guides the teacher to focus identify and capitalize on the interests and strengths of individual students. However, creating inclusive education that is effective requires both classroom-level strategies and the general systems-level support (Villa & Thousand, 2003).

According to Villa and Thousand (2003), educators and schools should create a less restrictive environment that accommodates students with varying learning abilities to learn within the same environment. The result of the shift to a non-restrictive environment is that an increased proportion of students with disabilities is now accommodated in regular schools and the classes for general education in these schools.

A successful implementation of inclusive education requires a redefinition of the roles and relationships among adults and students. This function requires administrative support, visionary leadership, collaboration, and administrative support. According to Villa and Thousand (2003), the first step toward introducing inclusive education is to create school communities that are restructured to meet the academic requirements of an increasingly diverse populations of students in their schools. Examples of best-practice initiatives that students should implement include block-scheduling, trans-disciplinary teaming, school-wide positive behavior support, and creation of social or family units within the school. These initiatives foster the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education.

According to Villa and Thousand (2003), several strategies exist for promoting an inclusive classroom. Examples include differentiated instructions, interdisciplinary curriculum approach, and the application of technology to communicate the general curriculum. The teacher should determine the content, instruction, and assessment strategies to differentiate based on the mix of students that the teacher has in the classroom.

Special education is one vital area in the ensuring the provision of education that reflects the diversity of students (Kauffman, McGee, & Brigham, 2004). In order to avoid discrimination in education service provision, special education services should be incorporated in mainstream settings without an acknowledgement that the services are atypical.

Gender is a fundamentally important diversity variable when it comes to education of students. According to Gurian and Stevens (2004), schools fail to recognize and fulfill gender-specific needs of the students. The brains of boys and girls are set up to learn differently. Researchers have performed scans of the brains of boys and girls and found that profound variation that affect human learning. For example, girls have a larger hippocampus than boys. The differences in anatomical and physiological makeup of boys and girls contribute to variation in their capacities for learning. Naturally, boys are also prone to brain-related learning disorders relative to girls. Statistics also indicate that boys lead in the percentage of grade Ds and Es scored, and two-thirds of disabilities diagnosed. As a result of the gender-based variation, researchers have also identified a mismatch between the set-up of the brains of girls and boys and the design of curriculum used to teach children.

Gurian and Stevens (2004) recommends certain aspects to be incorporated in the curriculum, in terms of tuning instructions to reflect the unique needs boys and girls. For boys, Gurian and Stevens (2004) recommend that the lessons for boys be made kinesthetic and experiential. Another recommendation is that male mentors should be used for boys. For girls, manipulatives should be used to teach math. Teams and working groups should also be considered for use to promote leadership and negotiation skills.

In summary, diversity implies variation in ethnicity, race, gender, and abilities among other differences. These variations imply that teachers or educators are having problems provided education that reflects the needs of all students. Instructions and learning environments should be designed and differentiated to match the unique needs of students. Overall, the learning environment should be inclusive of student variations.


Gurian, M. & Stevens, K. (2004). With Boys and Girls in Mind. Educational Leadership, 62(3): 21-23

Kauffman, J., Mcee, K., & Brigham, M. (2004). Enabling or Disabling? Observations on Changes in Special Education. Phi Delta Kappan, 2004(85): 613-620

Ravitch, D. (2002). Diversity, Tragedy, and the Schools- A Considered Opinion. Brookings, 2002(12)

Villa, R.A. & Thousand, J.A. (2003). Making Inclusive Education Work. Educational Leadership, 62(2): 1923

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