Ethnic and Racial Identity

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Multicultural education is the key to incorporating ethnic and racial identities in the classroom. I believe implementing a culturally responsive curriculum would work best for the students. I would like to be a future educator who acknowledges and welcome my students’ diversity in the classroom. It is important to bring cultural awareness in the classroom and school environment. I want my students to know that I respect, acknowledge and care about their differences. I would model this behavior because I want the students to do the same for each other. The steps I would take incorporate a positive, trusting and healthy learning environment are:

Show interest in students’ ethnic/racial backgrounds. According to Coalition for Children, Youth & Families (2016), “Both racial and ethnic identities are important facets in how we view ourselves and how others view us” (pg. 1). Encouraging the students to explore their ethnic/racial identities as well as others can promote awareness in the classroom. Students should learn during the early years how to respect and accept diversity. This can be a challenge because what is taught in the home can overshadow what is done in the classroom, however, diversity is something that cannot be ignored. Activities that can be done in the classroom are: researching different traditions and beliefs of cultures and teacher/students learning the correct pronunciation of student’s names instead of shortening it or asking for nicknames will show students that others do respect and appreciate their culture.

Plan activities and provide resources to encourage diversity. Taking students out of their comfort zone, for example, students live in a variety of neighborhoods. The students that come from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, maybe not have experienced going to a museum, art gallery or farmer’s markets. These public spaces bring people together to learn about history and celebrate diversity through art and food. Visiting community playgrounds that are in diverse neighborhoods and asking the students to discuss and/or write about what they observed and how they felt, “what was done differently that is not done in your home?” There are many websites and resources available online to help teachers and educators prepare to teach in culturally diverse classrooms.

Incorporate ethnic and racial identity in the curriculum and classroom decor. As a culturally responsive teacher, it is important to create an inclusive learning environment one in which diverse students feel comfortable, safe and not afraid to be themselves. Hughes-Hassell (2013) suggests using counter-storytelling. Counter-storytelling gives voices to ethnic groups who are often unheard, shedding new light on old stories. Adichie (2009) discusses her experience as being African and encountering the single story while in college with a roommate. Adichie (2009) explained, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story – the definitive story of a people” (Ted Talk). Entire ethnicities are being stereotyped because of one story. Multicultural literature can change the way we see each other.

Decorating the classroom with not only well-known leaders from one background, for example, Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, etc. for Black History Month, decorate inspirational leaders from different backgrounds and genders all year around. Hanging pictures of families of various races, ethnicities and trans-racial adoptive families would bring awareness and positivity. Celebrating cultural holidays such as Eid, Chinese New Year, Kwanza, Hanukah, Diwali, etc. would educate students on different customs and traditions.

Open Communication. Creating a safe space “classroom sanctuary” for students to communicate with each other and the teacher about their backgrounds, cultures, and experiences in an open forum about how they feel about themselves, will teach the students to respect all cultural diversity and the beauty of who they are. There are students who may have faced discrimination and prejudices at a young age, therefore, when the opportunity presents itself to talk about discrimination, the teacher should not brush it off. For example, Perna Bohn & Sleeter, (2001) states, “The teacher quickly stepped on his words, saying, “I cut you off because we don’t need to hear bad words like that in school…” (pg. 221). Instead of trying to control the situation, make it a teaching moment. I also believe talking with parents for guidance and information is valuable. It will help the teachers connect with the students and families.


Bringing the world into a classroom can be a wonderful and beautiful experience for students. Teachers have a responsibility to prepare students for a diverse world – personally and professionally. There are many activities and lessons that can be implemented through a culturally responsive curriculum. While reading, “Helping Your Child Develop a Healthy & Positive Ethnic Identity,” the authors states, “Some children feel embarrassed and not want to identify with their ethnic groups of origin. “I’m not African American, Native American, or Mexican. I’m just American.” As a future educator, I will play a significant role in helping students develop their identity as an individual and as part of a community.

Cite this paper

Ethnic and Racial Identity. (2021, Jul 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/ethnic-and-racial-identity/

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