The face of the United States is always changing. As we open our doors to refugees with different cultures and even struggle with differences among our own population, our children are looking to us to learn how to behave toward one another. Teaching students how to be accepting of those who are different is one of the most important lessons that schools can provide. October is Diversity Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to host an assembly to help students welcome the beautiful differences among themselves, their classmates, and society as a whole. We have some school assembly ideas to celebrate Diversity Awareness Month in your school!
Large Group Presentations
While it’s less intimate than workshops, a motivational speaker can captivate and get through to a larger group of students in a shorter amount of time. It’s also one of the most widely used school assembly ideas to celebrate diversity awareness. Sensitive topics like racism, homophobia, and other stereotypes can be addressed with the right speaker. Most speakers open up and share painful details of their past to help students understand why being accepting of others’ differences is so important. Be sure to discuss the exact material with the speaker before their presentation to ensure it’s age-appropriate. Older students will likely benefit more from this type of assembly than the younger students.
Sometimes the topic of diversity can get a little heavy, so it’s okay to lighten things up with a comedian! Being able to laugh at ourselves or even at how our culture handles stereotypes can help open up a dialogue about the issues. And as they say, laughter is the universal language so it can even help bridge the diversity gap between your students.
Cultural Arts and Music Showcase
A great introduction to diversity, especially among younger children, is an artistic or musical show. Many students may have only been exposed to music or art that their parents enjoy, so these types of school assembly ideas to celebrate diversity can work really well. It can capture their attention and begin to show them that our differences can be beautiful. Shows like African Dance Troupes, Mariachi Bands, or Taiko Drum Shows can open up a whole new world to some students. Some shows can even let the students participate so they can get the full experience!
Small Group Workshops
For a more personal and intimate experience for your students, workshops may be a great choice. Rather than having students simply listening, they actually participate in the discussion. This can help kids break out of their shell, open up, and really begin to understand each other.
Circles of My Multicultural Self
This activity helps students identify important parts of their identities. It also helps bring stereotypes to light and helps lead a discussion about how hurtful they can be. Students will first do some inward reflection and identification with the “circles” activity below, and then pair up to share stories with a partner. Lastly, in the whole group, they’ll share times when they were affected by a stereotype. Get the full instruction here.
Video Workshop: Coming Out
Besides cultural and racial differences, many students are facing discrimination due to their sexual orientation. Teaching diversity also includes helping students to be accepting of their LGBT classmates. For older students, you can show powerful documentaries like “Coming Out: Exploring the Stories of Gay Teenagers” (produced by The New York Times) and lead a discussion after. Before screening, have students consider this statement: “If newspapers printed articles by teenagers about ______, the world would understand what it was really like.” Students can think about how they may feel misunderstood because of stereotypes, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and other individual identifiers. This can help get them in the right frame of mind for listening to the struggles of their peers. In addition, The Learning Network has some great discussion questions to encourage more conversation on the topic afterward.
Choosing something to communicate the appreciation for diversity isn’t always easy. But any sort of exposure for your students is better than none at all. You’re on the right track, and we’re happy to help make your school’s Diversity Awareness Month a success!