Embracing the Diversity of our Classrooms

Embracing the Diversity of our Classrooms

We strive to welcome everyone to The Biome School with open arms. Each year we continue to see our community grow in both numbers and connections within our school. Every time you enter The Biome School you are greeted warmly. Every learner and their family are known by name. We welcome families to come learn with us whenever possible. We strongly believe we all have something that we can learn from one another.

One way we invite families to learn with us is through our monthly literacy mornings. On average there are over 40 families members and volunteers that join us to read with learners in all of our classrooms. Although parents coming in to read may seem like an insignificant task, the impact of this simple action is vast. Research has shown that there is a substantial relationship between parent involvement and reading comprehension. Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average – a gap of 47 points (NEA, 2000).

In September, we celebrated our first literacy morning of the 2017-2018 school year. A number of families joined us, eager to join their learner’s classroom and share in the experience. In Dr. Walker’s fourth grade classroom, there is a new student whose first language is Spanish and who is having his first U.S. school experience at The Biome. Often during literacy morning, parents have the opportunity to do a group read-aloud of a favorite book. Dr. Walker encouraged our new learner’s mom to read “The Three Little Pigs” in Spanish for the class. Hesitant at first, she was worried that the students wouldn’t understand or get bored. Rather, it was completely the opposite. The learners were enamored, engaged, and excited, as they were able to pick up a Spanish word here or there they had previously learned from their new classmate. Dr. Walker and her learners joined in to try their hand at reading and helped act out scenes from the story of “Los Tres Cerditos”! By the end of the morning, Mom was so grateful to be actively included and welcomed in Dr. Walker’s class.

This welcoming approach is vital as research shows that school climate and school culture also directly impact student success. It is important for school and classroom culture to reflect, acknowledge, and celebrate diversity. We know that diverse classrooms, in which students learn cooperatively alongside those whose perspectives and backgrounds are different from their own, are beneficial to all students because they promote creativity, motivation, deeper learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills (The Century Foundation, 2017). Further diverse viewpoints and experiences encourage all students to think critically about their own views and to develop greater tolerance.

As we continue to grow as a community, we can’t wait to learn more from our families. We believe everyone’s experience can enhance our community and promote learning for all.