Why do we present a restroom sign on our website? Because it’s a symbol for diversity in our school, and that’s what we want to talk about.
In order to live even more tolerance, openness, acceptance, and respect in our school, we have founded our own working group on the topic of diversity. In this working group, colleagues from the school leadership and the team are active and collect ideas, discuss concepts, and deal with the question of how we can make the topic of diversity even more visible in our school community.
For this purpose, 5 main aspects of this topic have been developed as follows:
1. Role Understanding/Behavior
We are constantly learning and responding when differences lead to incomprehension, outrage, or rejection. It is often not easy for either children or adults when their own beliefs are challenged. We want to encourage all children, young people, and adults in our school to question their own possible pigeonholing and to examine their own behaviors. We encourage each other to use gender-appropriate language and to communicate openly.
We on the Platanus team question and rethink expectations of our students as well as ourselves. We celebrate the diversity of our school community and highlight the benefits of a diverse community. We believe that team spirit and respectful, tolerant interactions transcend boundaries.
2. Ideas and Actions(whole school approach)
How can we create and maintain a welcoming environment? Are there areas where we can do better? Where are we on our journey with regard to diversity? These and many other questions were discussed in the diversity group and the following initial concrete measures were decided upon and have already been implemented:
- We are in the process of assessing our school values in order to incorporate “diversity” as one of our core values.
- We have designated some of our restrooms in the school building as diverse restrooms so that children, youth, and adults have the option to use restrooms which represent their identities and feel that this is being is respected on every level.
- We have updated our registration forms by adding “diverse” as another gender option. Gradually, we will implement this in every area of official communication.
Furthermore, we would like to make our school values more publicly visible and communicate them more clearly to all students in our school. We also plan to have interesting publications about this in our school magazine Platanus Post, on the Platanus Podcast, and on our pin boards in the school hallways.
3. Teaching and Co-Curricular Enrichment Program
When working with students, we closely observe in which situations and in which topics, teaching contents, games or other opportunities the chance arises to talk about diversity and to incorporate this topic in a natural way.
We want to get to know all the differences between the various cultures, religions and social backgrounds – individually and socially – and convey acceptance. An open and appreciative atmosphere as well as respectful interaction without stigmatization are the most important basis for this.
We take care to teach curriculum topics from an inclusive perspective. In our school life, we want to be attentive to stereotypes and speak openly about them, without accusations or blame, but always in a factual and enlightening manner.
It is especially important to us to increase awareness of different learning needs within our school (e.g. ADHD, learning and spelling disabilities, dyscalculia or autism) in order to provide all students with an individually tailored education. Here, our professional experts, Ms. Inken Kölle-Bork (child and adolescent psychotherapist (VT), counseling & diagnostics, child protection specialist) and Mr. Ray Rabe (integrative learning therapist, support for dyscalculia and dyslexia) are at our side.
We take diversity into account when selecting our teaching materials, games, and digital offerings. If we notice stereotypes, we point them out and encourage our students to do the same. We have also ordered interesting and age-appropriate books representing diversity for our school library.
5. School Festivals
We celebrate the linguistic and cultural diversity of our school at school festivals and offer various food highlights to learn about the holidays of other cultural and religious groups. You can find more information about this here: https://www.platanus-schule.de/en/buenos-dias-ni-hao-und-namaste/.
We are a diverse school community with people from different backgrounds. We are proud of this! It is important to us to reflect personal and social diversity. We try to create an awareness of other people and their lives, beliefs, orientations and characteristics. Again and again, we find that it is usually only prejudice or ignorance that defines supposed otherness.
We want to empower all students with knowledge, confidence, and resilience so that they have the courage to confront societal norms and injustices and feel comfortable, safe, and strong in our Platanus community and beyond.
If you have any additional ideas or thoughts on this topic, please contact us. We welcome suggestions.