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Creating the Culturally Diverse Classroom

This article appeared in ASCD InService, July 2017
I’ll never forget the day that Leonardo, a high school student, asked the school photographer to “paint him white” when taking a picture of him with his friends during spirit week. I asked Leo, “why did you ask the photographer to edit your picture and make you appear white?” He responded quickly “so I can be like everyone else”. I was shocked, and immediately felt sad—not just for Leo, but for us as a society. It was at that moment that I began a journey to understand how it must feel to be different than the dominant group of people—and more importantly—how could I help our diverse students feel as though they belong without giving up the essence of who they are culturally. Now, more than ever, schools are filled with students coming from diverse backgrounds. We are approaching a time when minority subgroups collectively will be more than 50% of the population in the …

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