Affirming identity in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms: the role of self in the understanding of equity

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University of New Brunswick


Educators play an important role in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms. Choices regarding curriculum, instruction and relationships can affirm or silence student identity. Affirmation of student identity leads to a greater sense of belonging in the classroom, which can lead to academic achievement and growth. To become culturally inclusive, educators must first have the courage, and time, to uncover self, and the assumptions and biases therein. Through this work, educators discover the imbalance of power and equity inherent in our societal and institutional systems, thus enabling them to make the choices necessary to disrupt inequity through affirming and inclusive classroom practice. Though the literature shows that educators need tools and time to discuss these types of realizations and learnings, it is also clear that the commitment to the work begins with self. Educators must explore, and reflect on, the discomfort that erupts when uncovering truths about equity and power, so that they can grow in their practice, and become more effective educators for some of their most vulnerable students. Keywords: culturally responsive pedagogy; diversity and equity; identity affirmation; belonging and empathy