Principia College boasts a 20% international student population. With this large segment of our student body coming from differing cultures, how do we support them? Principia is actually quite good at this. We have the annual International Festival, and we have an International Student Program Coordinator. We also have our International Student Learning Community. These are just a few of the steps Principia takes to be supportive to our international students. However, research shows us that embracing different cultures in the classroom is also advantageous. Having a multicultural classroom supports all learners. There are many ways we can improve the multicultural classroom experience here at Principia.
Here are just a few ideas to support you:
• Follow Mrs. Eddy’s counsel and regard each student with pure love. “When the heart speaks, however simple the words, its language is always acceptable to those who have hearts.” Mis 262:9
• Read about unfamiliar cultural experiences to expand your background
• Punch up your pedagogy
Make sure that your lessons have room for interaction
Participate with the students during journaling and discussion
Arrange classroom seating for easy communication
• Kindly encourage students from diverse backgrounds to join extra-curricular activities even if they are shy or hesitant.
• Get out of your comfort zone so that it is easier to empathize with your students
Take a class in something unfamiliar
Go to a restaurant you have never tried
Go to an activity that is new for you (think opera or Nascar)
• Relax and be yourself, students who are comfortable learn better
• Care … students who know they are cared for are more successful
Finally, enjoy your students and the class experience. You are doing what you love and they can feel it.
These ideas are adapted from Sonia Nieto and Patty Bode’s book Diversity, The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education, Lisa Delpit, in her book Other People’s Children, and Mary Baker Eddy in Prose Works.