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Top 10 strategies for building relationships with students and colleagues from diverse backgrounds

International teachers

As an international teacher, you’re not only responsible for imparting knowledge but also for fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment. To achieve this, it’s crucial to build strong relationships with both your students and colleagues from diverse backgrounds.

In this blog, we’ll explore our top 10 strategies that can help you connect with and support your diverse community.


Strategy 1: Cultivate cultural awareness

One of the first steps in building relationships with students and colleagues from diverse backgrounds is to develop cultural awareness.

Take the time to educate yourself about the cultures represented in your classroom and school. Learn about traditions, holidays, and customs, and be sensitive to cultural differences.

This knowledge will not only help you avoid unintentional misunderstandings but also demonstrate your respect for different cultures.


Strategy 2: Show empathy and active listening

Empathy is a powerful tool in building relationships. Be genuinely interested in your students’ and colleagues’ experiences and perspectives.

Practice active listening by giving your full attention when someone is speaking. Show empathy by acknowledging their feelings and experiences. This will make them feel valued and heard.


Strategy 3: Learn basic phrases in students’ native languages

Even if you’re teaching in a language different from your students’ native tongue, learning a few basic phrases in their language can go a long way in building rapport.

Simple greetings, phrases of encouragement, and expressions of gratitude can make students feel more comfortable and respected in your classroom.


Strategy 4: Create an inclusive classroom environment

Design your classroom environment to be inclusive and welcoming to all. Display diverse cultural symbols, posters, and books that celebrate different backgrounds.

Encourage students to share their own cultural artifacts, stories, and traditions. By creating an inclusive atmosphere, you signal that diversity is not only accepted but celebrated in your classroom.


Strategy 5: Establish clear communication channels

Effective communication is key to building relationships. Establish clear communication channels with both students and colleagues.

Ensure that everyone understands the expectations and protocols for communication. Be open to feedback and encourage questions and discussions to create an open dialogue.


Strategy 6: Foster collaboration and teamwork

Collaborative activities can be a great way to bring people from diverse backgrounds together. Encourage group projects that require students to work together and learn from each other’s strengths.

Likewise, collaborate with your colleagues on projects and share teaching strategies. This will not only enhance relationships but also lead to a richer learning experience for everyone involved.


Strategy 7: Respect different learning styles

Recognise that students may have different learning styles influenced by their cultural backgrounds. Some students may be more comfortable with collaborative learning, while others may prefer individual work.

Be flexible in your teaching methods and provide opportunities for different learning styles to flourish.


Strategy 8: Celebrate diversity through curriculum

Incorporate diversity into your curriculum. Include materials and topics that reflect various cultures, histories, and perspectives. This not only validates the experiences of your students but also educates everyone in your classroom about the world’s rich tapestry of cultures.


Strategy 9: Seek professional development

Continuously improve your cultural competence through professional development. Attend workshops, seminars, and training sessions on diversity and inclusion.

Engaging in ongoing learning will equip you with the knowledge and skills to build better relationships with students and colleagues from diverse backgrounds.


Strategy 10: Be patient and open-minded

Building relationships with diverse individuals takes time. Be patient with yourself and others, and be open to learning from your mistakes. Keep an open mind and remain committed to fostering a supportive and inclusive community.


As an international teacher, building relationships with students and colleagues from diverse backgrounds is an essential part of your role.

By cultivating cultural awareness, showing empathy, and creating an inclusive environment, you can create meaningful connections that enhance the educational experience for everyone involved.

Remember, the journey to building strong relationships is ongoing, and your efforts will have a lasting impact on your students and colleagues.

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