26 Aug Building Tolerance and Acceptance in Today’s Classrooms


How can students learn accept and work well with people of different beliefs, cultures, languages, socio-economic statuses, education backgrounds, and learning styles?

The answer is quite simple; in order for children to work with others from various backgrounds, they must learn the value of tolerance from the adults who are in the position to teach them. As a child growing up in an immigrant household, I had an advantage over other students because of not only the diversity inNew York City, but I was also able to travel and visit  my mother’s family in Guatemala and learn about the culture of Honduras from my father. For most kids growing up where I was from in Brooklyn educators had to create a classroom that was a reflection of various beliefs, languages, and cultures through the curriculum and artifacts carefully placed within our learning environment, which created a natural desire to want to know more about others and develop a level of respect and tolerance. When I became a teacher, I adapted the same strategies to create an inclusive environment where children learned and worked with one another regardless socioeconomic status, religion, race, or culture.

Here are five easy ways to create a classroom that builds tolerance and acceptance:

  1. Let’s Read. There are so many wonderful stories that range from picture books to novels that children of all ages can read and analyze through a guided literature study. The use of videos, articles, and other primary resources serve as perfect tools to build prior knowledge and make connections. It can also serve to deepen students understanding beyond the literal text.
  1. Let’s Write. Start a pen pal program for students to communicate with peers from around the world. This is a great way to build language, share beliefs and see commonalities in culture through the eyes of children.
  1. Let’s Share. By telling stories, children and adults who are within your school community can tell their personal journey. You can also invite guest speakers into the classroom from various backgrounds to share their stories, career, and traditions so children to learn and ask questions. With this new tech age, Skype of Google Hangouts makes virtual visits easy to schedule and guest can be readily accessible.
  1. Let’s Study. Design projects that will allow students to engage in the inquiry process of learning about cultures, belief systems, and communities through the use of primary sources, online research, and artifacts that can be introduced in the classroom. To incorporate a visual or kinesthetic approach with tasks that would include a video documentary, power point presentation, exhibition, or role-play.
  1. Let’s Go. Children need to be exposed to different environments where they are able to see and experience various cultures. This can include study abroad, going to a restaurant, attend community events, visit an embassy, and tour neighborhoods like Little Italy, Chinatown, Little Brazil where they can see tolerance and acceptance within a community in action.

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