Professional Development

Common Beliefs Survey: Teaching Racially and Ethnically Diverse Students

Teachers want students to learn, and many make an effort to be particularly responsive to racially and ethnically diverse students. Many of the beliefs we hold and lessons we are taught about racially and ethnically diverse students and how best to facilitate their learning have positive effects. Others, however, while seemingly sensible and well intended, can have negative consequences.

To examine commonly held beliefs about racially and ethnically diverse students, the kinds of things we may say in conversations about how to meet the learning needs of all students.

Time and Materials:
For individual use:
One hour
Copy of the Teacher Voices worksheet (PDF)
Copy of the Discussion Prompts (PDF)

For in-service or pre-service use:
Two hours
Copy of the "Teacher Voices" worksheet (PDF), for each participant
Copy of the Discussion Prompts (PDF), for small groups

For individual use:
Read each statement on the "Teacher Voices" worksheet (PDF) and complete the "First Thoughts" section after each statement. Try not to "over-think" the items, answering instead with your "gut response."

Next, read the entries for each statement on the Discussion Prompts (PDF). As you read each discussion prompt, reflect on your initial response in "First Thoughts," and write down additional thoughts, along with possible action steps that might help you better serve students.

For in-service or pre-service use:
Prior to the in-service or pre-service class, introduce the planned framework and objective and ask participants to complete the "First Thoughts" section of the "Teacher Voices" worksheet (PDF) and to hand in their completed sheets anonymously.

Compile "scores" and comments from participants' worksheets, providing a "class score" for each statement, along with representative samples from their comments.

Begin the in-service or pre-service class by re-introducing the framework and objective. Next, share the class's composite scores and comments from the "Teacher Voices" worksheet.

Next, break participants into diverse, small groups of four to six — up to 13 groups in all. Assign each small group one or more statements for further reflection. Provide each small group with a copy of their assigned statements, with composite scores and representative comments, as well as the Discussion Prompts (PDF) for their corresponding questions.

Allow small groups adequate time for discussion, encouraging them to write down thoughts and comments and to come up with at least one related "action step" that might help them and others better serve racially and ethnically diverse students.

Ask small groups to report back to the class. Facilitate a whole-group discussion, as needed.

Willis Hawley, Jacqueline Jordan Irvine and Melissa Landa designed the instruments and framework for this activity.

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