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Cultivating Confidence in the Identity of Diverse Students Through Effective Decision Making

Cultivating Confidence in the Identity of Diverse Students through Effective Decision Making

Bushra Haq
Lloyd V. Berkner High School


Amongst the typical struggles of adolescence, comes the day to day challenges of developing a sense of confidence with a youth’s diverse identity. Educators, administrators, and parents/guardians can use collaborative methods to cultivate a better understanding of Islam amongst our community’s youth. This paper will provide suggestions on how to foster a nurturing environment for our students to grow and develop confidence in their identity through an emphasis on group decision making as an essential component of this goal. In a time where misconceptions and a lack of understanding of diversity exist, minority students and young Muslim students need to develop confidence and positive self-esteem in order to promote inclusion, ethnic appreciation, and enhance overall group performance throughout their postsecondary education and in the workforce.

Speaker Biography

Bushra Haq attained her Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Texas at Dallas, and her Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership with a specialization in Higher Education from Southern Methodist University. Bushra has taught at a faith-based college preparatory at the secondary level, and conducted academic summer programming for elementary and middle school students. She is currently serving her sixth year in the field at Lloyd V. Berkner High School as an Advanced Placement US History and Government teacher.


Whether students attend a public school or faith-based institution, all youth should benefit from the services and resources provided by a religiously affiliated academic institution. Educators play a significant role in refining students’ judgments and decisions regarding moral and social issues, and preparing students for life beyond academia. Parents/guardians can support these goals, and further enhance their children’s adolescent experiences by supporting initiatives led by educators and local Islamic schools. A common struggle regarding decision making amongst educators, administrators, and parents/guardians include the lack of alignment of opinions and goals in raising a generation of productive adults proud of their identity. This paper will provide suggestions for how educators parents/guardians, and institutions can collaborate to instill confidence in Muslim-American youth. I will emphasize group decision making as an essential component to this paper using de Bonos Six Thinking Hats. Our community must collaborate effectively to ensure we maintain a common goal and to permit those who play a part in serving young Muslims an equal opportunity to voice their opinions, concerns, and suggestions.

A critical goal of an educational institution is to create a campus climate that respects and accommodates diversity through flexibility, inclusion, and understanding. With an increasingly diverse society, teachers and administrators must recognize the various historical and cultural backgrounds of students. Teachers and administrators must also acknowledge the differing personal experiences students may encounter that vary greatly from the majority group, such as refugee or asylum-seeking families.

An individual’s ethnic identity is the way in which individuals identify with those whom they have a common origin with or feel a common bond with. The process of ethnic identity development involves an individuals progression toward a conscious identification with their cultural and religious beliefs, values, behaviors, and traditions (Chavez & Guido-DiBrito, 1999). A lack of confidence in one’s ethnicity, stereotyping and prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their ethnic identity, and a clash of value systems with a minority culture and a society’s dominant culture can impede one’s ethnic identity development. As a result, school aged children and adolescents may not have the confidence to challenge the mainstream or conventional perceptions of their ethnicity or race, that could otherwise support their ethnic identity development. Mohan summarizes these points by stating that a student’s ethnic identity development is the negotiation between an individual’s own self concept and the perception of others (2010).

Schools play a critical role in students’ ethnic identity construction processes. A study found that a student’s positive ethnic identity is correlated with higher levels of academic performance, greater confidence in academia, and higher educational ambitions (Mohan, 2010). Thus, it is essential that Islamic schools promote students’ self-esteem and support students’ ethnic identity development through advocating appreciation of diverse ethnicities, focusing on shared commonalities and cooperation, and eliminating intolerance and negative preconceived notions through teaching about cultural norms, customs, and values of various ethnic groups.

After briefly identifying the obstacles students encounter to develop a positive ethnic identity, it is evident that Muslim youth desperately need educators, administrators, and parents/ guardians to support them in their effort to develop a positive religious identity and self-image.

Furthermore, the role of Islamic schools in serving and supporting current students and alumni in developing confidence in their identity, must be extended to serving students that are enrolled in non-faith based institutions as well. This feat is not easy to achieve when educators, administrators, and parents/guardians all have differing opinions on how to tackle the challenges youth face with developing positive identities. Hence, implementing an effective decision making strategy, such as de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, can allow for educators, administrators, and parents/guardians to explore different perspectives to formulate strategies for complex challenges.

This paper will cover my exploration of how teachers, administrators, and parents/ guardians can collaborate to promote ethnic identity development and instill confidence in diverse student populations, specifically Muslim American youth, through an effective decision making strategy. I will first separately examine the role of teachers, administrators and parents/ guardians in supporting Muslim youth develop confidence and a positive self-image. Next, I will discuss how all three groups can utilize de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats to strategically achieve this goal through campus wide collaborative efforts. It is only when teachers and administrators collaborate with families and communities that we gather diverse perspectives and resources to ensure students achieve success beyond the classroom.

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