Diversity in the Classroom: Teaching, Types, and Examples (2023)

Learning about and understanding diversity in the classroom can enhance the perspective of both prospective and developing teachers in many ways as they engage with the realities of today’s classrooms.

First, today’s teachers are likely to confront a range of different types of students—students with different socioeconomic backgrounds, different learning abilities/disabilities, and different ethnic or religious identities. Second, working effectively with classroom diversity is critical to promoting educational equity and optimizing both access and outcomes. Third, learning about diversity and developing strategies for working productively with those who are different entails short- and long-term benefits for students. Finally, diversity in the classroom is a teaching tool and opportunity for educational enrichment in itself.

Explore the impact of diversity in education, why diversity matters for students, and how teachers can foster diverse and inclusive learning environments.

Educational Equity

Educational equity refers to the idea that every student should have access to the necessary resources to reach their full academic potential.

Without educational equity, academic success is significantly more difficult for some students. Systemic barriers—such as housing insecurity, inadequate nutrition, and underfunded classrooms—continue to prevent students from reaching their full potential. Certain groups of students do not receive the same educational opportunities and accommodations as their peers. This can lead to a lack of diversity in the workforce, barriers to social mobility, mental health issues, and increased poverty.

When students from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to the same resources and opportunities as their more privileged peers, they are more likely to succeed academically and professionally. Educational equity is important because it prioritizes all students having the opportunity to reach their potential, regardless of their identity or circumstances.

Diversity, Culture, and Social Identities

Diversity in the classroom refers to differences in social identities. A person’s age, race, socioeconomic status, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, and nationality all comprise a person’s social identity. Our identities are intersectional and overlapping, and many aspects of our identities change over time.

(Video) Diversity in the Classroom

Types of diversity that can be present in the classroom include:

  • Ability diversity: This includes differences in students’ physical, mental, and learning abilities.
  • Age diversity: This includes differences in students’ ages.
  • Gender diversity: This includes differences in students’ gender identity and expression.
  • Ethnic diversity: This includes differences in race, ethnicity, national origin, and languages spoken at home.
  • Religious diversity: This includes differences in belonging to and identifying with the values and/or practices of a particular religion or sect.
  • Socioeconomic diversity: This includes differences in income, education levels, occupations, and housing security and stability with regard to students or their families.
  • Experiential diversity: This includes differences in students’ life experiences, such as immigration, military service, adoption, or foster care.
  • Sexual orientation diversity: This includes differences in students’ sexual orientations.
  • Geographic diversity: This includes differences in students’ local or regional identity and experiences based on where they live, learn, and play.

Diversity in the classroom is not limited to these examples. Individuals can belong to multiple social groups at the same time. Note that diversity is not only about visible differences. Along with the last three categories above, differences in learning styles, personality, mental health, and more are often present without being visible.

Why a Diverse Teacher Workforce Matters

Diversity in the classroom is not limited to the student population—it includes teachers, too.

The teacher workforce that supports elementary students is far less racially and ethnically diverse in the US than the students they teach, according to data published in 2021 by Pew Research Center. While the share of Asian American, Black, and Hispanic teachers has increased over the past two decades, this minor increase has not kept pace with the rapid diversification of the general US population.

For example, Pew reports that between 2017 and 2018 (the most recent study based on National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data):

  • 79 percent of US public school teachers identified as non-Hispanic White, whereas only 47 percent of all public elementary students identified this way.
  • 9 percent of US public school teachers identified as Hispanic, whereas 27 percent of public elementary students identified as Hispanic.
  • 7 percent of US public school teachers identified as Black, whereas 15 percent of public elementary students identified as Black.

Recent empirical studies show evidence for improved learning outcomes for students who have teachers from the same racial and/or ethnic groups. According to findings synthesized by Brookings Institute in 2022, students who had a same-race teacher tended to experience educational benefits such as:

  • Improved test scores
  • Improved course grades
  • Improved working memory
  • Better attendance
  • Better interpersonal self-management
  • Higher likelihood of taking an advanced math class
  • Higher likelihood of being selected for a gifted and talented program
  • Higher likelihood to graduate from high school
  • Higher likelihood to intend to enroll in college

Diversifying our educational system must therefore include increasing the representation of teachers who belong to different racial and ethnic communities. Students of color deserve to have the opportunity to learn from teachers who may share similar cultural experiences as them.

Teaching Diversity in the Classroom

Valuing inclusion in the classroom can help to create a more respectful learning environment for everyone.

(Video) Affirming Diversity In The Classroom Why it Matters to Your Students | Nadiyah Herron | TEDxCSUSB

Students can be taught as early as pre-school and elementary school how to use accurate terms to describe their own social identity. For example, a child can proudly affirm that they are both Black and Korean American, having a mother who is a Black woman from Chicago and a father who is a Korean man from Busan. Likewise, a child can proudly affirm simply having two mothers or two fathers.

Students should also learn to celebrate and respect people from cultures different from their own. Diversity is crucial for elementary school students to learn about because it helps them to appreciate the differences among people and cultures. In a rapidly diversifying world, students deserve educators and educational resources that teach diversity in the classroom and affirm the importance of inclusion, respect, and justice for all.

Learning about diversity from an early age can lead to more inclusive and respectful interactions with others and can also help students develop a sense of empathy and understanding for people who may have different experiences or perspectives.

Kids often express a natural curiosity toward the food, sports, art, clothes, children’s books, games, toys, and dances of different cultures. This openness and enthusiasm for learning from and about people who are different is something teachers must encourage and nurture.

Students who learn to appreciate and support members of diverse groups as children can grow up to be strong leaders of diverse and inclusive communities.

Contribute to the Ongoing Effort to Diversify Education

With the right teaching tools, educators can foster diversity and inclusion for the next generation of students. The significance of diversity in the classroom takes its impetus directly from a historical context where many classrooms were not diverse–either by political fiat or teaching philosophy–but its impact and its mission lies in promoting equity and positive outcomes for today’s students.

If you’re interested in an enriching career as an educator who embraces the mission of using diversity in the classroom as an educational opportunity, American University’s Online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and Online Master of Education (MEd) in Education Policy and Leadership programs may be a great next step for you. We prepare graduates with the tools they need to approach the diversity landscape in education with an informed perspective and teach students from diverse backgrounds.

Start pursuing your goals in education with American University.

(Video) Teaching in a diverse classroom, Teaching and learning b.ed Notes

How to Be a Better Teacher in 2023

Teaching Anti-Racism in the Classroom: Strategies for Educators

Anti-Racism in the Classroom: Tips and Resources for Teaching About Racism

American Psychological Association, The Benefits of Diversity Education

Brookings, “It Matters Now More than Ever: What New Developments Say about Teacher Diversity and Student Success”

Edutopia, “A Troubling Lack of Diversity in Educational Materials”

Education Trust, “Educators of Color Make the Case for Teacher Diversity”

Introduction to Comparative Government and Politics, “What is Religious Identity?”

National Equity Project, Educational Equity Definition

(Video) Types of diversity in the classroom/Reason for diversity in the classroom/learning and teaching

Pew Research Center, “U.S. Public School Teachers Much Less Racially Diverse than Students”

ProAct Indy, Why is Diversity Important in Schools?

New America, “The Representation of Social Groups in U. S. Educational Materials and Why it Matters”

(Video) Competencies for Teaching in Multicultural Classrooms


Diversity in the Classroom: Teaching, Types, and Examples? ›

Diversity in the classroom refers to differences in social identities. A person's age, race, socioeconomic status, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, and nationality all comprise a person's social identity.

What are the 4 types of diversity in the classroom? ›

How Diversity Affects the Classroom. Much discussion about diversity focuses on the following forms of marginalization: race, class, gender, and sexual orientation — and rightfully so, given the importance of these forms of difference.

What is an example of a diverse classroom? ›

Culturally diverse classrooms should incorporate a variety of photos, posters, books, music, flags, and media that showcase and tell stories of many ethnic, racial, and gender backgrounds, as well as reject rigid gender roles.

How is diversity shown in the classroom? ›

Including diverse learning and teaching material is one way to bring diversity into the classroom. Exposing children to material which represents multiple viewpoints and perspectives. Your materials should include different nationalities, races, languages, abilities, socio-economic backgrounds and current affairs.

What are the 3 types of diversity and give an example of each? ›

In a study of 180 Spanish corporate managers, we explored perceptions of diversity and found that depending on who is answering, diversity usually means one of three things: demographic diversity (our gender, race, sexual orientation, and so on), experiential diversity (our affinities, hobbies, and abilities), and ...

What are the 3 types of diversity examples? ›

Here's a list of the different types of diversity in the workplace: Cultural diversity. Racial diversity. Religious diversity.

How do you create a diverse inclusive classroom? ›

Tips for Making Classrooms More Inclusive as Students Head Back To School
  1. Use inclusive language on all forms. ...
  2. Stock your library shelves with diverse books. ...
  3. Create a welcoming bulletin board. ...
  4. Develop clear classroom and/or school agreements. ...
  5. Prepare for teachable moments. ...
  6. Model inclusive language.
Aug 24, 2018

What does an inclusive and diverse classroom look like? ›

An inclusive classroom is a general education classroom where students with and without learning differences learn together. Inclusive classrooms are welcoming and support the diverse academic, social, emotional, and communication needs of all students.

What are examples of diverse learning needs? ›

VARK stands for:
  • Visual Learners: They process information and learn by watching/observing things.
  • Auditory learners: They learn by listening and take inputs through sounds.
  • Reading/Writing: They learn by writing or reading from the written material.
  • Kinesthetic learners: They learn by doing things.
Dec 22, 2021

How do teachers support diverse learners? ›

Having an elastic, accepting, and caring mindset, providing direct instruction, creating time for collaboration, and teaching advocacy are ways to construct an effective learning environment for all of our students who each have a unique and developing mind.

How to promote diversity equity and inclusion in the classroom? ›

Seven effective ways to promote equity in the classroom
  1. Reflect on your own beliefs. ...
  2. Reduce race and gender barriers to learning. ...
  3. Don't ask students of color to be “experts” on their race. ...
  4. Diversify your curriculum. ...
  5. Hold every student to high expectations. ...
  6. Avoid assumptions about students' backgrounds.
Mar 19, 2020

How do teachers promote cultural diversity? ›

One way teachers can honor cultural differences is by letting students from different cultures be the expert. Teaching other students about traditions, explaining the history and geography of countries and regions, and sharing cultural experiences are some ways to let these students know they are valued and welcome.

What is a diverse learning environment? ›

What is a diverse learning environment? In brief outline, its structural components are: content viewed from more than one cultural perspective. learner-centered as well as teacher-centered classroom philosophy: faculty member as facilitator as well as source of knowledge.

What are examples of diversity? ›

Examples of diversity include visible diversity such as age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race. Invisible diversity examples are sexual orientation, educational background, and work experiences. Personal diversity includes religion, geographical location, and general worldview.

What is diversity and examples? ›

Diversity is differences in racial and ethnic, socioeconomic, geographic, and academic/professional backgrounds. People with different opinions, backgrounds (degrees and social experience), religious beliefs, political beliefs, sexual orientations, heritage, and life experience.

What are the best examples of diversity? ›

Examples of diversity include gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic, age, cultural, religious, and political diversity. Today, diversity is highly valued because it strengthens social groups.

What are the 3 C's of managing diversity? ›

By being curious, courageous, and committed individuals, we inspire our teams to become more welcoming and inclusive. These three C's provide the toolset necessary for creating a culture of belonging and expanding diversity within the workforce.

What are 3 possible approaches to diversity? ›

Bring a more diverse set of people.
  • Invite and include.
  • Enable.
  • Engage and invest.
Oct 3, 2017

What are 8 types of diversity? ›

Workplace diversity has many forms: race and ethnicity, age and generation, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, religious and spiritual beliefs, disability, and many more.

What are the 7 key areas of diversity? ›

7 types of diversity in the workplace
  • Cultural diversity. ...
  • Age diversity. ...
  • Racial diversity. ...
  • Gender diversity. ...
  • Sexual orientation. ...
  • Disability. ...
  • Religious diversity.
Apr 20, 2023

What are the 5 types of diversity in childcare? ›

Although there are various ways to exhibit diversity, the five main ways they demonstrate this for children in their environment are with race, culture, age, abilities, and non-conforming gender roles.

What is an example of inclusive teaching? ›

An inclusive classrooms features students of all learning styles and ability levels. For example, an inclusive classroom could have a mix of gifted students, auditory learners, visual learners and students with disabilities such as ADHD, students who are in wheelchairs, and students with executive functioning issues.

What is an inclusive classroom strategy? ›

Inclusive teaching strategies refer to any number of teaching approaches that address the needs of students with a variety of backgrounds, learning modalities, and abilities. These strategies contribute to an overall inclusive learning environment in which all students perceive to be valued and able to succeed.

What is diversity in an inclusive classroom? ›

Teaching for diversity refers to acknowledging a range of differences in the classroom. Teaching for inclusion signifies embracing difference. Teaching for equity allows the differences to transform the way we think, teach, learn and act such that all experiences and ways of being are handled with fairness and justice.

What is an example of inclusion? ›

Offering equal access to company resources is a fantastic example of inclusive behaviors in the workplace. For instance, do not limit access to senior management to some workers. Instead, ensure that all employees have equal support from team leaders and other company resources.

What is the example of inclusive? ›

Being inclusive means that you act based on the belief that everyone has inalienable rights. For example, people have the right to: Express themselves without being penalised for certain differences. Choose an occupation and engage in work that pays a competitive wage and allows them to use their abilities.

How do some teachers manage to accommodate individual differences in a classroom of diverse students? ›

Embracing the Differentiated Classroom

One way that teachers can accommodate high and low achievers in the same classroom is with differentiated instruction. This is the concept of breaking up the class so different learners can learn at their own speed.

How do you ensure lesson plans are inclusive? ›

  1. Make it Personal. Provide opportunities for students to share their own experiences and perspectives. ...
  2. Include Various Perspectives. Provide a variety of perspectives on the topics you teach. ...
  3. Know Your Students. Get to know your students. ...
  4. Respect Diverse People. ...
  5. Respect Diverse Talents.

How do teachers differentiate learning for diverse students? ›

Teachers who practice differentiation in the classroom may: Design lessons based on students' learning styles. Group students by shared interest, topic, or ability for assignments. Assess students' learning using formative assessment.

What are three ways teachers can help improve relationships among ethnically diverse students? ›

Strategies for improving relationships among ethnically diverse students:
  • Turn the class into a jigsaw classroom.
  • Encourage students to have positive personal contact with diverse other students.
  • Reduce bias.
  • View the school and community as a team.
  • Be a competent cultural mediator.

How can teachers create a positive multicultural environment for learning? ›

14 Tips for Incorporating Multicultural Education Strategies in the Classroom
Dec 10, 2020

How do teachers promote inclusion in the classroom? ›

Creating an Inclusive Climate

Build Relationships: It is important for teachers to foster a one-on-one relationship with each of their students as much as possible. This can be accomplished by greeting them each at the door, asking them about their interests, and using genuine praise in the classroom.

What does diversity in education mean? ›

Diversity in the classroom refers to differences in social identities. A person's age, race, socioeconomic status, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, and nationality all comprise a person's social identity.

What is cultural diversity in the classroom? ›

They come to the classroom with diverse backgrounds, including their cultures, ethnicities, religions, languages, and economic statuses. They have different opinions about politics and pop culture as well as different learning styles and levels of motivation.

How can you make your classroom more culturally responsive? ›

4 ways to practice culturally responsive teaching
  1. Build a positive classroom culture.
  2. Get to know your students and families.
  3. Provide opportunities for students to see themselves in the learning.
  4. Set high expectations for all students.
  5. Other resources to support your practice.
Mar 17, 2022

How do you interact with diverse learners? ›

7 things you can do to teach diverse learners
  1. Make an IEP cheat sheet. ...
  2. Encourage active learning. ...
  3. Embrace small group and learning stations. ...
  4. Group by learning style, not ability. ...
  5. Promote project-based learning. ...
  6. Incorporate ed-tech and adaptive learning tools. ...
  7. Provide alternative testing options.
Oct 31, 2019

What is diverse classroom management? ›

The goal of Managing Diverse Classrooms is to look at the impact of culture on classroom organization and management. Throughout this book, we examine how teachers equipped with a framework for understanding cultural differences have constructed novel ways of organizing their classrooms.

What are the 4 C's of diversity and inclusion? ›

Creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable company starts with what I like to call the “Four Cs” – careers, connections, community, and capital.

What are four 4 characteristics of diversity? ›

Primary characteristics of diversity are usually the most visible; for example, gender, race, sexual orientation, and age, although often these may not be apparent. The visibility of primary characteristics is critical to the assumptions made by the majority society about the presumed worth of minority group members.

What are the 6 types of cultural diversity? ›

Usually, cultural diversity takes into account language, religion, race, sexual orientation, gender, age and ethnicity.

What are the 4 dimensions of diversity? ›

The four diversity type dimensions are Internal, External, Organizational, and World View.

What are the four Ts to deal with diversity? ›

These elements are training, transparency, time, and togetherness. Training. Training is important for employees who are not familiar with diversity. Managers should be very careful choosing a training program because the training needs to fit their employees.

What is diversity and list five 5 examples? ›

Diversity refers to the inclusion of a wide range of people from different backgrounds. Examples of diversity include gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic, age, cultural, religious, and political diversity. Today, diversity is highly valued because it strengthens social groups.

What are the 3 dimensions of diversity? ›

Learn more about specific dimensions of diversity:

Education. Ethnicity & National Origin. Gender & Gender Identity.

What are the 8 areas of diversity? ›

The original "Big Eight" Social Identifiers
  • Ability - Mental and/or physical.
  • Age.
  • Ethnicity.
  • Gender.
  • Race.
  • Religion.
  • Sexual Orientation.
  • Socio-Economic Status/Class.

What are 4 variables of creative diversity? ›

Creative level — your knowledge, skill and experience. Creative style — how you prefer to approach change. Motive — what motivates you to solve problems and bring about change. Opportunity — which opportunities interest and inspire you most.

What are the 5 diversity dimensions? ›

The dimensions of diversity include age, race, skills, backgrounds, sexual orientations, and other differences that make one unique.

What is diversity and its types? ›

Diversity Meaning

It is recognizing an individual's differences along dimensions such as age, race, gender, ethnicity, ideologies, sexual orientation, physical abilities, political beliefs, religious beliefs, and socioeconomic status.

What are the 12 dimensions of diversity? ›

The dimensions of diversity include gender, religious beliefs, race, martial status, ethnicity, parental status, age, education, physical and mental ability, income, sexual orientation, occupation, language, geographic location, and many more components.

What are the 6 pillars of diversity mindset? ›

The six pillars of diversity & inclusion are Engage, Equip, Empower, Embed, Evaluate and Evolve. The questions described below are an example of the themes that are addressed in each pillar of the IES.


1. Effective Teaching in Diverse Classrooms
2. Diversity And Inclusion
(Jason I am)
3. The Inclusion Classroom: An Inclusive Education Movement
(Teachings in Education)
4. Social background of diverse students and teaching in classroom
5. Classroom Activities: “Number Race” (Diversity)
(Learning for Justice)
6. Diversity in the Classroom - Teaching Tolerance at Tierlantuin Nursery (Learning World S6E6, 2/2)
(WISE Channel)


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