A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute
Guidelines for Teachers: Setting the Stage for Respect
From the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute Anti-Bias Study Guide (Elementary/Intermediate Level)
Examine your own cultural biases and assumptions. Explore your perceptions and understanding of situations by developing an awareness of your cultural "filters."
2. Comprehensive Integration
Integrate culturally diverse information/perspectives in all aspects of your teaching. Consider moving beyond the constraints of a cultural history month to infusing multiple perspectives into all aspects of the curriculum.
3. Time and Maturation
Allow time for a process to develop. Introduce less complex topics first, and create time to establish trust. Develop ground rules that allow for honest discussion within a respectful context. Recognize that the long history of mistrust between people in different groups will not dissipate quickly.
4. Accepting Environment
Establish an environment that allows for mistakes. Since most of us have been unconsciously acculturated into prejudicial and stereotypical thinking, we may not be aware that certain attitudes are harmful to ourselves and others. Acknowledge that intolerant thinking will surface from time to time in ourselves and others. Model non-defensive responses when told that something you said or did was offensive to someone. Assume good will and make that assumption a common practice in the classroom.
Be prepared to respond to purposefully directed acts of bias. Students will carefully observe how you intervene when someone is the target of discriminatory and hate-based behavior. Silence in the face of injustice conveys the impression that the prejudiced behavior is condoned or not worthy of attention. Make it clear to students and their families that you will not allow name-calling in the classroom. Explain the thinking behind "zero tolerance" when it comes to prejudice and discrimination. Your appropriate and timely intervention is critical in establishing a safe classroom environment where all students can succeed.
6. Life-long learning
Keep abreast of current issues and discuss them with students. Clip articles from newspapers and magazines and post them in the classroom. Let students know that you consider yourself a learner, and that you see yourself as part of the learning process.
7. Avoid "preaching" to students about how they should behave.
that exhortation is the least effective methodology for changing prejudiced attitudes; in fact it often produces a result opposite from the desired effect. Provide opportunities for students to resolve conflicts, solve problems, work in diverse teams and think critically about information.
8. Life experiences
Provide opportunities for students to share life experiences and choose literature that will help students develop empathy. Make your classroom a place where students' experiences are not marginalized, trivialized or invalidated. Prejudice and discrimination have a unique impact on each individual. Students and their families develop a variety of coping strategies based upon the type and frequency of discrimination they have experienced. It is never fruitful to engage in a debate over who has suffered the most. Oppression is harmful in all of its forms.
9. Resources Review
Review materials so that classroom displays and bulletin boards are inclusive of all people. Insure that supplemental books and videos do not reinforce existing stereotypes. When you see such examples in textbooks, point them out to students and encourage students to think about them critically and to challenge them.
10. Home-School-community connection
Involve parents, other family members and the community in the learning process. Understand that families and other community members provide the context in which students are motivated to learn. We cannot view the school and the home or school and the community as isolated from one another; we must examine how they interconnect with each other and with the world.
ADL's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute operates on the premise that educators are most likely to be successful in integrating anti-bias content and methodology practices in their classrooms when they have had hands-on experience and training with the materials they use. For this reason, ADL's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute curriculum materials are available only within the context of a six-hour (minimum) staff development workshop, and are not for sale through ADL’s Resource catalog. In the interest of providing specific examples of the Institute's curriculum materials, this sample exercise has been made available. For more information on how to organize an A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE ® Institute training program in your school or community, contact your ADL Regional Office, ADL National Headquarters (212) 885-7700, or by E-mail.
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