Race is currently high in the news agenda. The Black Lives Matter movement reawakened societies’ awareness that racism remains an unresolved blight, and Meghan Markle’s recent revelations have made us all re-examine just how accepting of diversity our societies really are.
Our concept of ‘society’ is nurtured in classrooms that continue to become more diverse (Choi & Lee, 2020), and it is important that teachers are confident to use classroom practices that address the presence of this diversity (Romijn, Slot, Leseman, & Pagani, 2020). However, research suggests that teachers continue to feel ill-prepared to deal with diversity (Slot, Halba, & Romijn, 2017), and this lack of confidence may result in less effective teaching when working with learners from diverse backgrounds (Abd Wahid, Suhairom, Zulkifli, Jambari, & Ali, 2018; Faez, 2012; Skepple, 2015).
Research indicates that when teachers are confident in their ability to foster inclusive approaches, this is likely to result in pupils from more marginalised communities achieving higher levels of academic success, more motivation and greater self-confidence (Parkhouse, Lu, & Massaro, 2019). Changing demographics have resulted in a growing recognition of the need to incorporate effective multicultural perspectives into teacher education programmes (Castro, 2010; Kim & Jeon, 2017).
‘When teachers can confidently foster inclusive approaches, this is likely to result in pupils from more marginalised communities achieving higher levels of academic success, more motivation and greater self-confidence.’
During a recent ‘equality, diversity and inclusion week’ at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln, UK, postgraduate trainee teachers had the opportunity to work together to create subject-specific, real-world teaching resources for use in schools. The ‘real world’ aspect of this was that their materials have been commissioned for inclusion in teaching resources distributed by Black History Month Magazine to schools nationally in the UK. Through a series of different pre-project activities, all trainees were provided with opportunities to extend their understanding of the experiences of the UK Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community and, by working collaboratively in subject hubs, to develop their knowledge of this group through collaborative exploration.
Academics at the university are conducting research to investigate whether this approach had an impact on these trainees’ confidence to teach in ethnically diverse classrooms, and whether their sense of self-efficacy regarding their ability to teach a diverse range of pupils may have been positively affected, as suggested by recent research (Romijn et al., 2020). Qualitative data was collected from self-selected volunteers which was designed to explore the impact that completing development work of this kind has had on trainees’ knowledge, understanding and perceptions. The following principal research questions are being explored.
- What impact did engaging in this project have on the PGCE trainees’ skills, knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and perceptions?
- What implications does engaging in this sort of development project have for teacher training programmes?
Early analysis of the data suggests that all the trainees who participated in this project were energised from engaging in this work and increased their confidence and sense of self-efficacy regarding teaching pupils from diverse, and specifically BAME, backgrounds. Further analysis, discussion and implications for future teacher education will be shared.
The pandemic has taught us that no country or society exists in isolation; we are truly all part of the global family. Perhaps now is the time to examine our relationships within that ‘family’ and to be ready and confident to challenge the ‘othering’ of any members of our communities.
The team working on this project includes Dr Sheine Peart, Dr Hadiza Kere Abdulrahman and Dr Clare Lawrence (see below).
Abd Wahid, N. H., Suhairom, N., Zulkifli, R. M., Jambari, H., & Ali, D. F. (2018). Teachers for diverse students: Malaysian TVET teachers teaching preparedness. International Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics, 118(24).
Castro, A. J. (2010). Themes in the research on preservice teachers’ views of cultural diversity: Implications for researching millennial preservice teachers. Educational Researcher, 39(3).
Choi, S., & Lee, S. W. (2020). Enhancing teacher self-efficacy in multicultural classrooms and school climate: The role of professional development in multicultural education in the United States and South Korea. AERA Open, 6(4).
Faez, F. (2012). Diverse teachers for diverse students: Internationally educated and Canadian-born teachers’ preparedness to teach English language learners. Canadian Journal of Education, 35(3), 64–84.
Kim, J., & Jeon, H. (2017). Anti-multiculturalism and the future direction of multicultural education in South Korea. Curriculum Perspectives, 37, 181–189. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41297017-0025-7
Parkhouse, H., Lu, C. Y., & Massaro, V. R. (2019). Multicultural education professional development: A review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 89(3), 416-458.
Romijn, B. R., Slot, P. L., Leseman, P. P., & Pagani, V. (2020). Teachers’ self-efficacy and intercultural classroom practices in diverse classroom contexts: A cross-national comparison. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 79, 58-70.
Skepple, R. G. (2015). Preparing culturally responsive preservice teachers for culturally diverse classrooms. Kentucky Journal of Excellence in College Teaching and Learning, 12(2014), 6.
Slot, P., Halba, B. & Romijn, B (2017). The role of professionals in promoting diversity and inclusiveness.