Is your school website a reflection of your student body, and does it celebrate the diversity within it as well as throughout the surrounding community? If not, you may be disregarding a large portion of your web audience.
Granted, creating a multicultural school website can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, there are some simple, actionable steps to achieving this goal. It’s a shared effort that can be a lot of fun as well as a learning experience for everyone involved. Here are five tips.
Why Having a Multicultural School Website is Important
Multiculturalism in education comes down to respect and understanding for other cultures. It enables each student to contribute to their learning environment through their own traditions, and should be present and exemplified in every school, regardless of its demographics.
While a significant part of the push towards multiculturalism will occur in classrooms, your school website can take these efforts a step further and reinforce them. There are also practical reasons for taking different backgrounds into consideration when building your online platform, such as ensuring equal access to information for all students and families.
However, there’s no reason to stop there. Along with classroom practices, your website can foster understanding and appreciation of different cultures. This can contribute to all students feeling represented and accepted, regardless of their traditions or what language they speak.
Your school’s website isn’t just for your students, either. Anyone – from community members to parents or prospective pupils – can access it. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your school’s commitment to multiculturalism and inclusivity.
5 Tips for a Multicultural School Website
Building a multicultural website your school can be proud of won’t happen overnight. However, there are small yet impactful actions you can take to get started. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a one-person job. It should be an effort involving administrators, teachers, students, and their families.
1. Understand the Diversity Within Your School
To create a more welcoming online environment for your school, you’ll first want to
understand where your current website stands. A smart place to start is by reaching out to students, staff, and families about their thoughts on the state of your web content via a
This will ensure you address relevant concerns when making changes. It’s also an excellent opportunity to discover how people feel about the current state of multiculturalism in your school as a whole.
Crowdsignal Polls & Ratings is a plugin that will make this task a lot easier. It enables you to create polls and display them on your school website:
Find out from your school community what changes they would like to see on the website. You can also show ratings on your published content, to help get a sense of how readers feel about your existing site.
If your school isn’t inherently diverse, not to worry. You may need to get a bit creative, but it’s no reason not to embrace multiculturalism on your website. In fact, it may be even more vital that you do so, since students are less likely to be exposed to different traditions and practices in their day-to-day lives.
Another method you could try is doing research to see what celebrations or events are happening in your local community. These could serve as indicators of the most prevalent traditions in students’ lives outside of school.
2. Use a Translation Plugin to Share Content in Multiple Languages
Translating your school website is a crucial part of making it accessible and useful to everyone who visits it. If your community has a significant non-English speaking population, a site that’s only in English creates a barrier to participation for many parents.
Also, remember that even when someone can speak English, they’re likely more comfortable with their first language. Respecting this can help increase parent engagement.
If you’re currently relying on Google Translate or another automated translation tool, we’d recommend using a multilingual plugin instead. Automated translation options are undoubtedly fast and easy to use. However, they usually rely on machine translations and aren’t always accurate.
The Polylang plugin is an excellent option for translating your school website:
This plugin offers an extensive list of languages to translate your site into. Polylang is easy to set up and use. Simply input your site’s default language and select the ones you plan to translate it into.
You (or a translator) will then need to translate each post and page into your desired language(s). You’ll also convert the titles, categories, and tags. Polylang makes it easy for you to see which content has been translated into which languages from your WordPress dashboard:
The Polylang Language Switcher Widget will enable your website’s users to view your content in the language they prefer. It’s added to your sidebar, and you can customize its appearance and behavior. If you’d prefer not to use the widget, you can add a language switcher to a custom menu instead.
Once your site is translated, you’ll want inform your multilingual families. Send out an email with a brief video tutorial demonstrating how to use the new function. Invite them to reach out with any questions or issues they may encounter.
3. Highlight Multicultural Events On Your School Calendar
You may want to put your website’s calendar to work as you build your multicultural
school website. Of course, you can add any events that your school might host,
but don’t forget about your surrounding community.
Use your research from our first tip to further populate your school’s calendar. You can ask staff and students to suggest events they may know about as well.
Students can further participate in highlighting these events by contributing articles about them to your school blog. This not only deepens their understanding of other cultures but will also let them practice writing for the web. Encourage budding photojournalists to submit photographs to complement the articles as well.
The Co-Authors Plus plugin makes it easy to give credit to each student who pitches in. You can create profiles for them and add their names to the final post:
Even just including multicultural days of interest on your school calendar can spark curiosity in students. These may include religious observances, but you can also add holidays, such as Jewish American Heritage Month. You may even wish to include the birthdays of international leaders.
Again, teachers can encourage students to dig deeper into the topics that interest them and develop content around these topics. You’ll have a full editorial calendar in no time!
4. Feature Multicultural Classroom Experiences
Teachers can bring multicultural efforts into their classrooms by encouraging students to learn more about their classmates’ cultural backgrounds. This could be in the form of video interviews that are shared on your school website or a class blog. Such a project could also make a strong addition to students’ digital portfolios.
Another classroom activity to try is sharing foods from different cultures. Researching and cooking recipes for a multicultural classroom celebration might be fun for students. Teachers can use your school calendar to select dishes relevant to the time of year or choose to align the cuisine with their curriculum.
After the festivities, favorite dishes can be shared on the school website using a recipe plugin such as WP Recipe Maker:
With this plugin, you can create beautiful recipes to incorporate into a blog post or to share on their own. There are multiple templates to choose from and students can print the pages out to recreate the dishes at home for their families.
5. Showcase Multicultural Art and Literature
Art, music, and literature can all be used to explore different cultures. Work with your school’s librarian to curate a collection of books to feature on your school’s website. Teachers can employ this list in their classrooms, but it’s also an opportunity to involve parents.
Reading together is an effective way for families to learn more about another culture, or even deepen their understanding of and connection to their own traditions. It’s also a chance to encourage parents to participate in their children’s education at home.
You can employ a similar approach with music. Enlist your music department for help putting together a playlist of songs for students to explore. If possible, include sheet music or lyrics with translations to deepen their participation.
If your community has a lively music scene, you can also reach out to local multicultural artists who might be willing to come in and share their music with your school. You may even want to include some performance dates on your website calendar.
Another strategy is to use a digital gallery to display visual art. With the Jetpack plugin’s carousel module activated, your school site’s users can zoom in to see the work’s details without navigating away from the page they’re on:
If you’re lucky enough to have an art gallery or museum in your community, you can also feature pieces from their collections.
It’s essential that your school website be an accurate representation of your student body and the surrounding community. You want it to be every bit as welcoming to people of all cultures as your school itself is. It’s a perfect project for involving the entire community in a shared learning experience.
In this article, we looked at five ways you can update and add to your school website to make it more multicultural:
- Understand the diversity within your school.
- Use a translation plugin to share content in multiple languages.
- Highlight multicultural events on your school calendar.
- Feature multicultural classroom experiences.
- Showcase multicultural art and literature.
At CampusPress, we’re experts in bringing innovative web solutions to elementary schools through WordPress and our wide range of out-of-the-box and custom plugins and products.
In fact, our services in accessibility, security, hosting, support, along with an extensive suite of other tools, power millions of education websites, blog networks and portfolios. Learn more about our solutions for school district websites or request info today!