Last week, the Faculty Center and the Teaching, Learning & Technology Center wrapped up our spring professional learning community, with a focus on intercultural pedagogy. Faculty and staff from Access and Opportunity Programs, Business, Global Education, Sport and Exercise Science, and more came together every other week to talk about Teaching Interculturally: A Framework for Integrating Disciplinary Knowledge and Intercultural Development, by Amy Lee et al. This theoretical and practical guide to transforming classroom teaching for diverse learners helped us identify specific strategies for updating our practices.
Here, we share some of the tips and recommendations our group is hoping to implement in our courses and offices. Some are applicable in various settings; others target individual interests. Our list offers some options you can consider if you’re interested in teaching with an intercultural lens in mind.
- Collaborate with students to establish expectations for respectful classroom conversation early in the semester. Invite students to actively imagine and create an environment invested in supporting difference.
- Prioritize student voices. Plan activities that rely on student participation and interaction.
- Share your story as a faculty or staff member. Let students know where you come from and acknowledge how your own position influences your approach in the classroom.
- Get to know students and make space for students to get to know each other.
- Solicit information about student interest and adapt course content when possible. Allow opportunities for students to pursue their interests by offering choice in assignments.
- Use a human ecological framework to contextualize content in the social sciences.
- Replace textbook assignments that only ask students to read about others with interactive interview projects that encourage students to communicate with others about course content (interviewing a potential client in a finance course, for instance).
- Identify tensions in your teaching. If you’re interested in taking an intercultural approach, can you identify course materials or objectives that are preventing you from reaching your goals?
- Update your objectives to include explicitly intercultural content.
- Pare down additional content (when possible) to make more room for meaningful interaction between students.
This list is not exhaustive, nor is it prescriptive! Our faculty and staff talked about making one or two changes to begin or sharpen their commitment to intercultural pedagogy. We also talked about how developing an approach of this kind is an ongoing process. Because our students and classrooms change all the time, our responsive teaching will, too. That can make intercultural teaching both rewarding and challenging.