Diversity and inclusion are essential elements of a contemporary Australian classroom. In a typical classroom in Australian, diversity means teaching a unique set of children with different cultural and social backgrounds. Moreover, these children may differ in their aptitudes, abilities, interests, personalities and a plethora of other factors that make each student distinctive (Hyde, 2017; Conway, 2017). As a teacher, recognising diversity in a classroom and valuing it is essential because this allows one to accept that diversity is a good thing and adjust teaching strategies to address the needs of diverse groups.
According to the NSW Government (2020), “recognising the cultural diversity of school communities helps meet the educational and welfare needs of students and their families” (para. 2). Therefore, with their work, educators should help students adapt to the learning environment and enable harmony within the community of learners by understanding and addressing the different needs of these students.
Most importantly, diversity means that the ways students perceive life and information given to them differ since cultures have an immense impact on the how people function and understand life, as well as on their beliefs (“Student diversity,” n.d.). The contemporary Australian culture demands teachers to understand that their students may identify themselves with different cultures and that they may come from different socioeconomic backgrounds to facilitate successful learning.
Inclusion can be seen as actions directed at ensuring that all children feel as a part of the group. This can be reflected in the intergroup relationships that the students have or the way the teacher and the education facility manage the relationships with the communities (“Inclusive education – What does the research say?,” 2017).
Notably, inclusion and diversity are interconnected, because to enable inclusion, a teacher must recognise the differences between different students and work on facilitation excellent communication and cooperation between the students. As an example, the teacher should learn how to pronounce the names of students correctly if they are unfamiliar with them, allow students and their families to share information about them and their families with the classmates of their child, and work on promoting cooperation between the students (Conway, 2017; Harris, & Goodall, 2008).
As an educator, it is important to recognise the issue of being a part of the clasroom community and the way it can impact the ability of a child to study and succeed since a lot of curriculum and school-based activities imply cooperation. However, the diversity of the students may result in an inability to recognise the different ways in which children from different cultures and backgrounds behave or perceive information. Therefore, it is an educator’s task to bridge this gap and ensure that all students are equally engaged in the process.
Student Needs from Specific Group
The population of Aboriginals in Australia requires specific attention from an educator because one can easily encounter these students and the gap in their education persists to exist. The Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment (n.d.) outlines the following key objectives in the education of the aboriginals – increasing their early childhood education and ability to finish school and improving reading and writing skills. Aboriginal students may struggle with using English because at home, and they use a different language, which may hinder their progress in reading and writing when compared to other students.
Moreover, language has an effect on the way a person perceives information, which can also become an issue for the aboriginal students, creating barriers and misunderstandings (Blair, 2015). Therefore, the primary student need for the Aboriginals is ensuring that they are engaged in the education process and helping them master reading and writing skills.
Teaching Strategy One
Metacognitive strategies allow an educator to teach students how to focus on their own thoughts and thinking process. This is a helpful strategy for a multicultural environment because it advanced not only the students’ ability to think but also other skills. Department of Education and Training Melbourne. (2017) states that it “extends to self-regulation, or managing one’s own motivation toward learning” (p. 9).
According to the Department of Education and Training Melbourne (2017), metacognition promotes the student’s study skills with the size effect of 0.6, which will have a positive impact on the ability of the Aboriginal students to master writing and reading. Moreover, it promotes a more advanced strategy of concept mapping, with the size effect of 0.64 and problem solving, which can help these students succeed in graduating, which is another issue that this population faces.
An Australian teacher is likely to encounter an Aboriginal student in their classroom. Yet, the gap in the knowledge and skills of this population, discussed in the previous paragraph, suggest that more attention should be dedicated to the way these students are taught. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (n.d. a), in 2002 the population of Aboriginals was estimated at 36%, and 47% of the young population was engaged in education (Australian Bureau of Statistics, n.d. b).
Moreover, the Bureau’s website mentioned that the ability to successfully integrate into the education system and gain the necessary skill and knowledge is essential for this population. By developing an ability to trace how ideas and thoughts develop, the Aboriginal individuals will be able to understand different opinions, for example, voiced by their classmates of diverse cultural background. Therefore, metacognitive strategies are essential for the successful and wholesome inclusion of ABoriginal students in the contemporary education system in Australia.
The metacognition strategy was chosen to address the issue of inclusivity and diversity, mainly by helping the aboriginals understand that children in the classroom can think differently and view problems from different perspectives due to their cultural backgrounds. The history of the Aboriginals in Australia and their interactions with the school system is characterised by marginalisation and systemic ignorance regarding the unique needs of these people (Lowe, 2017).
To emphasise the inclusion of the Aboriginal students, they should be taught using the metacognition strategies, which will help improve their learning and problem-solving capabilities, which they can use to advance in different subjects. Therefore, metacognition is a helpful strategy which encourages students to reflect on their way of thinking and allows them to develop better control over their learning, as a result.
Identify a Special Need or Learning Disability
In the past, students who did not succeed in the academic learning process were often labelled as ‘lazy’ or unable to achieve success, which further hundred their ability to learn and overcome the barriers they may face. In the contemporary learning environment, teachers possess enough information to understand that what was perceived as ‘laziness’ can be a result of a disability.
The Disability Discrimination Act from 1992 defines disability as an impairment, either physical, such as hearing difficulties, or problems that obstruct student’s learning of the intellectual, sensory, neurological or another nature (“Disability Discrimination Act 1992,” n.d.). The discrimination of students that have any disability is illegal, and the teacher should be able to assess their needs and tailor their strategies to the specifics of these students.
One of the disorders that can significantly impair learning if unaddressed is the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS). Hudson (2013) defines ADS as an impairment of communication abilities and social interactions. Moreover, these students often have a need for repetitive behaviour. However, because the disorder’s name implies a spectrum, each student may experience ASD differently, with a mild or severe presentation of symptoms.
These students require environments that are structured and may appreciate the repetitive nature of some lessons. In the study by Morgan et al. (2018), the researchers tested a teacher-guided strategy titled ‘SCERTS’ that addresses active engagement, communication, bad behaviour management as well as executive functioning of students with ADS. These factors should be considered by a teacher as the primary needs of a child with ADS.
One Teaching Strategy
One of the high impact teaching strategies is titled ‘structuring lessons,’ which fits the needs of the students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. According to the Department of Education and Training Melbourne (2017), with this approach, an educator clearly structures each lesson, mapping each step that will be undertaking and creating a routine.
Moreover, with this strategy, the unit goals are linked and reinforced by the tasks in each lesson, the timing for each task is optimised and the teacher is able to have smoother transitions between different parts of the lesson. This technique can be used with others because it concerns the structure of a lesson and not a particular task or activity.
For the children with the ADS, this approach will help address their need for structure. Also, the teacher will be capable of implementing elements that will target communication and social skills with these lesson plans. For other children, lesson structure will help in scaffolding – a set of techniques used to strengthened learning and break the material into chunks (Department of Education and Training Melbourne, 2017).
Typically, a teacher will introduce the topic and objectives, content and transitions, dedicate time to examine main ideas and conclude by reviewing the material. The difficulty of each lesson can increase as the students progress, which is another benefit. This teaching strategy is a good and basic method for creating a lesson plan and communicating it to students, which also helps establish a welcoming and comfortable environment for students with ADS.
Overall, diversity and inclusion are essential elements of contemporary teaching in Australia, which allow recognising the different needs, capabilities, and backgrounds of students. Diversity implies recognising the fact that the students come from different backgrounds and may perceive the learning process in different ways. Inclusivity is an engagement of students, regardless of their background, in the process of learning. In this report, evidence for the support of the teaching strategy of metacognition and structuring lessons was presented.
Recommendations include applying the metacognition strategy to facilitate the learning of aboriginal students and help them track the way in which their thoughts and ideas develop. This strategy helps promote the children’s ability to study, addressing one of the major concerns regarding this population. For the students with learning disabilities, specifically for those with ADS, it is beneficial to use structuring lessons. This approach promotes better learning for other students as well because it leverages scaffolding of the materials that should be learned.
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Blair, N. (2015). Aboriginal education: More than adding different perspectives. In N. Weatherby-Fell (Ed.), Learning to teach in the secondary school (pp. 189-208). Cambridge University Press.
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