When teaching so as to engage with the diversity of your students you might

  • approach every interaction with the assumption that the person you are dealing with is well intentioned, and respond positively.
  • introduce yourself in the first class and include aspects of your cultural background. Ask students to introduce themselves to another student, share something of that student's background and if appropriate ask them to introduce that person to the class. Learn students' names and know how to pronounce them.
  • agree on course expectations with students as early as possible. Provide an overview of learning activities and outcomes and explain academic standards and expectations regarding assignments, marking criteria and assessment timelines.
  • create safe collaborative spaces by setting ground rules for collaborative learning. Discuss appropriate classroom behaviour, a need for courtesy, respect for different opinions. Encourage students to articulate their thinking openly in trusting, respectful environments. Be comfortable with and encourage students to learn by getting stuck, being uncertain, making mistakes and being different. Link these to the University's graduate attributes.
  • ensure cross-cultural learning experiences are fully integrated into course learning outcomes, curriculum and assessment and are not considered an 'add-on'.
  • explain subject specific terminology clearly and concisely. Encourage students to ask for clarification if they do not understand and be mindful that some colloquial expressions may need to be rephrased in plain English, including questions or comments raised by students. Allow plenty of time for students to formulate responses to questions or to comment.
  • be aware of your own potential for bias, and help your students to become aware of theirs. Support students in reflecting on these issues.
  • encourage students to reflect on and value their cultural influences. Find opportunities to allow students to connect their learning with their own lives. This may involve selecting or negotiating topics and activities relevant to students' lives and backgrounds. Value contributions equally and find ways to use the diversity present in your students as a learning opportunity for all.
  • develop strategies for sharing and generating knowledge. This involves creating open, flexible activities that allow students to draw on their knowledge, interests and experiences while encouraging them to share and apply different knowledges and experiences among peers. This might involve setting up cross-cultural learning environments where at times students might work in groups comprising students from diverse backgrounds, at other times they might work in groups of their choice.
  • present material in ways that includes a diversity of international, national, Indigenous and local perspectives and ensure the material does not over generalise or reinforce stereotypes. Consider bringing in guest speakers from a range of backgrounds to address topics on which you may not have expertise.
  • model inclusive behaviour towards minority students, neither 'spotlighting' them in ways that may be unwelcome, nor overlooking them when they wish to make a contribution. Avoid treating any student as representative of his or her cultural group and keep in mind that every individual has their own unique cultural influences. Avoid racist or exclusive remarks and discourage the same with your students.
  • try to be culturally aware, for example by using materials, resources and anecdotes that are relevant to the subject and sensitive to the social and cultural diversity of the group.
  • know where you might direct your students if they are in need of learning support.

These teaching possibilities are identified in research and in response to our students' experiences. You can read more by following the links below.

See Inclusive teaching references and resources - Teaching to diversity

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