Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thoughts on Diversity

My district is very much like many other districts in that we have elements of diversity, and those areas seem to always expand. As those learners from diverse backgrounds expand, assessment seems to cause the focus to narrow on those sub-groups. Schools, like mine, have become reactive to measures of accountability on assessments rather than accountability on student achievement in society. Instructional programs need more than half-measures reactive to policy, they need professional development programs that explores the underlying differences and that differentiates to provide contextual learning experiences for our students.

My district incorporates several programs, experiences, and personnel that address diversity in our school. We use the home-visit program, where staff visit the homes of at-risk students to make connections with the families and see the lives and backgrounds of their students. This program provides context for the teachers, and aids in their understanding that all students are different, have different backgrounds and situations, and require different actions for success.

Our school also allows for field trip experiences and technology resources that provide context for students. Since students come from many backgrounds, many do not have similar background experiences. By taking students on field trips, the school provides a similar experience for all students that the teacher can build upon. Similarly, technology resources in the classroom provide an opportunity to build context outside of the walls of the school. Some students take vacations or have family experiences that they can draw upon in school. Providing those resources to all students allows the students to personalize that learning.

My district also employs specific personnel to provide additional resources for students. Some of the teaching assistants roles provide reading and math supplement to students who display needs. These experiences are for all students, but a majority of the students are students with diverse needs. My district also have personnel for students with disabilities, and students with English Language Learner needs. These teachers have a strong desire to help all students, and specifically students they feel they have skills to assist.

The district leader has a responsibility to provide an educational environment and experience for the success of all students. By dedicating resources to meeting the needs of all students, the leader ensures that students have opportunities to achieve success. Leaders also must provide professional development opportunities for all teachers so that they can explore topics of diversity and the impact upon their instruction, and continue to grow in their performance and perceptions.

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