Critical Roles of Culture in Effective Classroom Management




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In the 21st century, the world has become a global village. This is due to the ease of migration from place to place.

This has created a classroom situation where there are diverse students with diverse cultural backgrounds.

The challenges confronting teachers have included the ability of teachers to build sensitive and responsive classroom environments to the culture of diverse students.

In this article, we want to look at the critical role of culture in our classroom management efforts. We will explore the ingredients of culturally sensitive classroom practices. Finally, we will assess the factors to consider when choosing behavior management strategies that are sensitive to culture.

What is Culture?

Culture refers to the way of life of a group of people or an entire society. It encompasses every aspect of the life of society. Below represent some components of culture:

  1. Arts
  2. Language
  3. Clothing
  4. Food
  5. Artifacts
  6. Music
  7. Dance
  8. Norms
  9. Values
  10. Rituals

Why is Culture Important in Classroom Management?

Culture is a vital part of everyone’s life. It is the first point of learning for every individual through the family.

We must coexist and respect everyone’s culture in our classroom values and practices. Else, we will end up causing the following issues in our classrooms:

Cultural isolation

It is a phenomenon where individuals separate themselves and don’t relate to other cultures outside theirs.

If this happens, it means you have created an environment where students prefer to live alone and not interact with others. This produces a reason for students to feel helpless and inadequate.

In that case, they will be less willing to collaborate with other students in a group or team learning. I bet you, that’s not a class you would like to handle.

Meanwhile, our goal must be to promote a functioning community in our classrooms.

Cultural erosion

Education must aid us to appreciate our culture and enable improvements to our society. However, cultural erosion allows individuals to lose core components of their culture.

We must therefore use and promote classroom management strategies and practices that include everybody, irrespective of one’s cultural background.

Cultural erosion affects our classroom management efforts because the beneficial effects of culture on pupils’ discipline will be overlooked.

Learning problems

A classroom where cultural differences are not considered crucial can generate learning problems.

Different cultures have diverse ways of learning. Therefore, we must vary our teaching techniques and activities to meet the needs of every student culturally.

Moreover, communication is a fundamental aspect of culture that affects the learning patterns of our students.

We must choose appropriate communication channels and techniques that will allow everyone to understand what is communicated.

Without this, there will be learning problems that lead to classroom management problems.

Behavioral problems

Culture plays a critical role in shaping one’s behavior in society.

So, if we don’t the cultural needs of students, they will likely put up problem behavior. For example, it will be weird to use teaching material that denigrates an aspect of our students’ culture.

This will instigate them to misbehave and even disrespect the teacher. So, we must be mindful of how we handle diverse cultures in our class.


Culture, if not handled with care, can become a source of conflict in our classes. This can mostly happen among students.

We have to create an inclusive environment in the classroom to make sure everyone is properly recognized and respected.

Else, a conflict resulting from culture can be hard to solve.

Communication breakdown

As mentioned earlier, culture dictates communication among individuals.

What is appropriate communication in someone’s culture most likely will not be considered as such in another person’s culture.

It is imperative to learn to communicate appropriately with the diverse cultural groups in your classroom.

For effective teaching and classroom management, effective communication is necessary.

How to Create a Culturally Responsive Classroom Environment

The following are some best practices to use when making efforts to develop a classroom culture that involves everyone.

1. Avoid practices, procedures, and uses that discriminate against ethnic minorities.

2. Labeling students from other cultures must be avoided.

3. Communicate your expectation of high academic performance to all learners, regardless of their culture, race, gender, or religion.

4. Ensure that learning experiences relate to the learner’s own cultural experience.

5. Create a strong and closer relationship with students, their parents, and other stakeholders.

6. Try to be sensitive and know that cognitive learning styles are culturally dependent.

7. Use diverse teaching styles, methods, strategies, and techniques.

8. Create and promote a cooperative and supportive classroom atmosphere rather than competitive and unsupportive.

9. Work on yourself and your feelings regarding racism, culture, gender, or religion. This can help you become objective and non-judgmental about other cultures.

10. Make conscious efforts to understand your students and their cultures and languages.

11. Avoid and discourage stereotyping of others.

12. Provide opportunities for all pupils and allow them to demonstrate initiative and leadership.

13. Use culturally friendly reward systems in your class.

14. Use teaching and learning materials that are factually correct and fair to all cultures.

15. Know that multicultural education is a continuous, dynamic, and lifelong learning process.

How to Choose Classroom Management Strategies that are Culturally Sensitive

Behavior management is critical to our success in the classroom. What’s more important is how to choose appropriate strategies for the effective management of behaviors.

The following are some factors to consider when choosing classroom management techniques that are sensitive to everyone’s culture:

  1. Know whether your students work and learn better individually or in groups: It’s essential to understand how everyone learns. Depending on one’s culture, learning patterns may be different. For example, students from individualistic cultures will most likely learn better when they are/study alone. Students from group cultures may also learn better in groups or teams.
  1. Understand whether students think their individual desires and goals are most important or that they should usually submit to the will and welfare of the group: We must know the desires and goals of our students. That’s, is the student values his or her desires over that of the group. This must be considered when selecting both teaching and classroom management techniques. That’ll save you lots of trouble.
  1. Try to know whether your students function better under cooperative or competitive situations: In selecting a behavior management system, it is necessary to know whether your students do well when they are cooperating or competing with others. Generally, people from individualistic cultures perform well when they are competing with others. The reverse is the case for people from group cultures.
  1. Understand whether students are indifferent or responsive to praise and criticism from others: Praise and criticism are evaluating tools for pupils to improve their behaviors. Culture is central to your ability to use them effectively. Try to understand how your students respond to them. Depending on the culture, students may respond negatively to them and hence making them ineffective in changing or improving behavior.
  1. Do students respond better to impersonal rewards like toys, candy, time-off,
    or personal rewards such as praise, smiles, and pats on the back: Here we must know the best or appropriate motivation tools for each student. Some cultures might be better motivated with extrinsic or intrinsic rewards. Knowing that will aid you to encourage students to behave and learn well.
  1. Do students prefer formal or informal relationships with adults: Having positive relationships with students is critical for the success of classroom management and education as a whole. The culture of pupils shapes the way they relate with adults. Some prefer it to be formal, others informal. We must therefore try to understand and consider students’ cultures to relate appropriately with them.


Culture plays an important role in our lives. From the above, we noticed that culture can mar the effectiveness of your classroom management efforts. It is imperative therefore to create an inclusive classroom culture for everyone, irrespective of students’ cultures. You can achieve that with the help of what is recommended above. Please, share with your colleagues for them to also benefit from the article. Thank you.

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