Welcoming Diversity in the Classroom

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too by Christopher Emdin provides an inside glance on how teachers can create and welcome diversity through a plethora of pedagogical strategies. He examines and dissects urban classrooms that are incorporated of many different students from many different backgrounds. His novels creates an emphasis on the importance of welcoming and recognizing the backgrounds that these students. Here are some key insights that can be gathered from the novel:

Equitable climate and energy solutions for urban areas - Urban Integrated  Field Laboratories Urban Integrated Field Laboratories

Empowering students

Edmin explains how advocating for students can not only help build a better relationship between a student and their teacher, but help build build student confidence. He gives the example of having student led discussions that can be centered around their community, making it relevant to students’ lives. In my own teaching, I want to create student-centered lessons that allow them to address problems in their own community, increasing engagement with the activity.

Building Relationships

Through the book, Edmin explains the importance of building relationships with students. These relationships are build with trust and respect, and can help take the classroom into a welcoming environment. This includes getting to know students and their backgrounds. One day when I am a teacher, I plan on having meaningful conversations to get to know my students better in order to foster a sense of belonging in my classroom.

Incorporation of Student Background

When teaching students from a culturally diverse background, it might be necessary to incorporate student experiences and background into lessons. On example can be tying community examples into lessons, such as real life examples. This will increase student engagement and interest in topics. In my own classroom, I plan on using community examples and tying in my students’ backgrounds in order to make their learning more meaningful.

Reduction of Power Dynamics

In the novel, Edmin mentions how power dynamics between students and their instructor can hinder learning experiences all around. Race and privilege power dynamics are touched on in this novel. As an educator, understanding how these dynamics can be dealt with in the classroom may make students feel more comfortable in the learning environment that you choose to create. As a future educator, I plan on reducing this power dynamic as much as possible in order for my students’ voices to be heard and recognized.

Reality Pedagogy

Connecting content to students’ lives will help students become more engaged with the topics. Relating scientific topics, such as environmental, to the community may help students relate to the content more than if it was a random scenario. I plan on using real life scenarios in order for my students to be able to relate it to their life experiences.

How my Thinking has Changed

  1. Power dynamics between students and their teacher can hinder the learning experience for both parties
  2. Teachers have the ability to make their students feel empowered and bring light to social justice issues
  3. Bringing student experiences into a lesson will make the learning more meaningful and relevant

Lesson: Incorporating the ideas from this book, I could have students do an environmental justice and air quality project. For this project, students will focus on urban areas specifically, addressing environmental concerns that can arise in areas they are familiar with. This will be a research based project, in which they will provide a presentation on how they will address current issues in their own community dealing with air quality issues.

@chrisemdin #HipHopED #ScienceGenius #scienceed #scienceteacher

Urban Transformation - RMI


  1. Maddie, I thought your paragraph on changing power dynamics was really strong. This can be really difficult to do as a teacher but can be quite beneficial to students, especially those who may be marginalized often. Could you explain a bit more specifically how you might do this in your own classroom?

    • Hi Max, I think one way to do this is to have built meaning relationships with students. Instead of being a power figure to them, get to know your students and build a foundation to have them share their life experiences with you.

  2. Hello Maddie, I enjoyed reading your post. I agree with you that the power dynamic between the teacher and student is vital within the classroom. Because of this, what strategies might you use to keep order and hold the respect of the students while also fostering an environment that is conducive to learning?

    • Hi Duncan, I think that respect can go both ways between a student and a teacher, but I also think it can be fostered in a healthy manner. By getting to know your students and building that relationship, a classroom environment can be more comfortable for everyone.

  3. Hi Maddie, I loved reading your post! Specifically, I liked the points you made about your thinking changing. As educators, it is our responsibility to make the classroom a safe and welcoming place for all students, and your new ways of thinking encompass that.

    • I agree! By keep an open mind and being accepting as an educator, the learning experience will be so much better.

  4. Great blog post! I think it is awesome to have students do a project in the area they are familiar with. This incorporates the students’ lived experiences as mentioned in the book! Other than air quality, can you think of other area-related topics for the projects?

    • Hi Allie! I think a great one would be how to address pollution in urban areas, and how a high population of people can contribute to this in larger cities. I am definitely interested in learning more ways to incorporate this and make learning applicable to students’ lives.

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