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C H A P T E R 2

Teaching Diverse Students

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost
to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

—Emma Lazarus
Inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty

Before We Begin

Before We Begin: Describe the cultural composition of an elementary or middle school
classroom in your community. How can teachers meet the needs of the diverse cultures
represented in these classrooms? Be ready to compare your view with classmates.


America’s public school system was founded upon the premise that all people, regardless
of their cultures or special circumstances, are entitled to a free, quality education so that
they can become productive, contributing citizens in our society. Modern-day educators
have extended that vision to create global citizens. Education is, in a sense, a “golden door”
of opportunity that enables people to transcend social, physical, economic, or cultural
barriers to pursue their dreams. Increasingly diverse classrooms provide a venue for
children to learn to embrace cultural differences and eliminate the barriers of racism,
sexism, and prejudice. If we want all students to enter this golden door of educational
opportunity, teachers must be sensitive to their students’ cultural and academic differences.
They need to create culturally sensitive learning communities, develop positive teacher–
student–parent relationships, design lessons that motivate all students to learn, and
implement those lessons using differentiated instructional strategies to maximize student

Chapter 2 Teaching Diverse Students 27

Everything you do in your future classroom will center upon meeting the needs of your
diverse student population. Therefore, you must gain an understanding of all children’s
unique academic, emotional, and cultural differences so that you can help them on their
academic and life journeys. To support a culturally sensitive learning community, you need
to design and implement lessons that address all students’ academic needs, learning styles,
and multiple intelligences.

After completing your study of Chapter 2, you should be able to

•• explain why teachers need to embrace diversity and establish high expectations for all

•• discuss the changing demographics of American classrooms,

•• explain the role communication plays in culturally sensitive classrooms,

•• describe ways to enhance home-school communication,

•• define and describe the various dimensions of differentiated instruction and learning
styles, and

•• explain the concept of multiple intelligences and describe Gardner’s eight areas of