Schools and classrooms do not stand apart from the larger society, but are, in fact, microcosms of the society. In other words, as American society continues to become more diverse, so too do our classrooms. Gone are times when we can assume that most all students are of Judeo-Christian faith, speak English as a first language, and were born in the United States. When looking at modern-day classrooms, we see different races, religions, national origins, various languages spoken, and overall different cultures that are observed along with what we might consider the "traditional" American culture. Because of this diversity, there have arisen many challenges that teachers face today that in the past they either didn't notice or wasn't trained to confront.
One challenge of modern educators is the diversity of religion in the classroom. Although all religious teachings and prayer have been removed from the public school system, it wasn't until recently that public schools referred to the time off from late December until early January as "Christmas break." In some parts of the country, schools still have some religion-related events whether they"re "Christmas plays," or "Easter egg hunts." It may seem trivial to some people, but it's probably a good idea for all public schools not to refer to events or vacations in the religious context, and out of respect to religious diversity, we should try to keep the classrooms as non-secular as possible.
Another challenge for teachers is the care for exceptional students and the particular needs they have. Although there are many types of exceptional students, the one thing most have in common, regardless of their need, is that they want to fit in to the general student population. Although that is the goal of most of these exceptional student programs, sometimes it's not easy to accomplish. Besides teachers not always knowing how to handle the special needs of these children, other students might not know how to interact with these children.