Five Ways to Bring More Multicultural Awareness to Your Tutoring

1. Understand the relationship between what you intend to say and the effect it may have on someone else. Without being aware of it, you may be referring and responding only to what you intended, no matter what the actual effect you may have had on somebody. Recognize that you can never be totally aware of the biases and prejudices you may carry into the tutoring session, and you may never know how the students experience you.

2. Reject the myth of color-blindness (or "just treat everyone the same"). As painful as it is to admit sometimes, you probably react differently when you are in a room full of people who are very similar to you than you do in a room full of people who are very different from you. Be open and honest about that, because those shifts do affect the experiences of the students you work with. In addition, pretending that you are "color-blind" may encourage you to ignore differences, which means you ignore a large part of a person's individuality.

3. Recognize your own social identity group memberships and how they may affect your tutees' experiences and learning processes. People do not always experience you the way you intend them to, even though you probably try to treat everyone with the same level of respect. If you appreciate this, you will find deeper ways to connect with all your tutees.

4. Reflect on your own experiences as a student, both positive and negative. Research indicates that these experiences influence how you behave as a tutor, and how you treat your tutees, much more than any training does. Your own experiences provide important insights regarding your tutoring practices.

5. Get to know others who are different from you in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, first language, disability, and other identities. These can be valuable relationships of trust and honest critique. At the same time, don't rely on other people to identify your weaknesses. In particular, in the areas of your identity that you experience privilege, you must not rely on people from historically underprivileged groups to teach you how to improve.

Adapted from the Multicultural Pavilion