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The Teaching Diverse Students Initiative

Written by Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on 02 March 2010.

Teaching Diverse Students The most significant educational challenge facing the United States is the tragically low academic achievement of many students of color. The Teaching Diverse Students Initiative (TDSi) helps educators meet this challenge by providing research-based resources for improving the teaching of racially and ethnically diverse students.

These resources can also help school leaders, school improvement teams, college faculty and anyone or any group with an interest in maximizing students’ learning opportunities to identify needed policies and practices that support effective teaching and high levels of student learning.

The resources available through TDSi are embedded in tools and cases:

  • The Understanding the Influence of Race tool helps educators learn more about the origins of "race" as we understand it, examine the continuing influence of race on their own beliefs and behavior, and better comprehend how and why their students succeed or struggle
  • The Common Beliefs Survey identifies beliefs about instruction and learning that may have consequences for students of diverse races and ethnicities.
  • Primer on Culturally Relevant Pedagogy is an introduction to teaching that facilitates student learning by taking into account race and ethnicity related values, dispositions and experiences.
  • Case-Based Course Modules engage the learner in interactive problem-solving related to teaching literacy; many of the lessons to be learned apply to all subjects.
  • The School Survey identifies conditions in schools that support effective teaching and learning of racially and ethnically diverse students.

TDSi places primary emphasis on practices within teachers' immediate control — classroom strategies and pedagogical techniques. The research-based strategies promoted by TDSi, first and foremost, support students' academic learning. Within that focus, it also emphasizes strategies that have the potential to reduce teacher and student prejudice.

While TDSi focuses on improving instruction, it recognizes that teaching and the learning opportunities experienced by students are influenced by school structures, processes and cultures that vary in the extent to which they are responsive to student diversity. Thus, the TDSi helps teachers, administrators and families identify the characteristics of schools that are particularly important in maximizing the social and cognitive development of racially and ethnically diverse students.