Inclusion in the Classroom: Tips and Tricks
It is important to note that this is guidance material. You are not being required to follow any tips displayed here. However, the Chambers College Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity committee is encouraging these practices in order to foster a more inclusive environment within the Chambers College community. This guidance is not to censor your beliefs, customs, or Academic Freedom, but to encourage the inclusion of other individuals, thoughts, and beliefs. This guidance material is not to promote “debates” around these issues, but to foster dialogue and understanding.
Why should the classroom be inclusive?
Inclusive practices within the classroom and overall learning environment are beneficial in many ways. Inclusive teaching enhances student learning, retention, and engagement. Research suggests that students who feel excluded from their environment are less likely to successfully learn than those who feel included within the environment (Hurtado et al. 1999). Students who feel disrespected, undervalued, or unwelcome will become unengaged and learning will be minimized, which often leads to withdrawal (Murphy & Zirkel, 2015). Students want faculty and staff who are encouraging, supportive, and compassionate, who can maintain an environment free of disrespect and antagonism.
Problems with Political Correctness in the Classroom
“Insincere politically correct comments undermine pedagogical learning objectives in diversity education” (Avery & Steingard, 2008).
- It is okay to open honest conversations about marginalized groups. You do not have to be politically correct at all times.
- Forced or insincere political correctness prevents the sharing of authentic experiences and voices that may be intense and complex and impairs diverse learning.
- Often in politically correct atmospheres, “students are left with the impression that racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, and the like are no longer present or significant in the workplace because they do not ever hear their counterparts vocalize support for such worldviews” (Barreto & Ellemers, 2005). o How are we to understand and navigate prejudice if we do not talk about it?
What can we do in the classroom?
In no particular order, below are basic tips for encouraging inclusion in the classroom:
- Get to know your students. Ask them about themselves and their experiences, but also introduce yourself and your experiences.
- Do not be afraid to have complex conversations in the classroom. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable in the classroom, as long as the classroom is safe and free from hostility (Kishimoto & Mwangi, 2009).
- Follow the Platinum Rule not the Golden Rule: Do unto others as they would want done to them. Treat someone the way they ask you to treat them.
- For example, if a student tells you their preferred gender pronouns or preferred name, use those pronouns and/or name.
- Do not force someone to “out” themselves. Make sure students are aware that sharing their gender pronouns is voluntary. See Glaad or My Pronouns for more tips on gender pronouns.
- Provide in-class examples that break from the norm.
- For example: instead of using John Doe in an example, use a name that is often associated with other racial, ethnic, sex, national origin, genetic information, ability, gender, age, religious, and/or cultural groups. However, be careful not to conform to stereotypical or biased notions, such as creating a Black or African American customer purchasing chicken and watermelon when discussing customer purchase habits.
- For example: Instead of always using an American city as an in-class example, use a city in a different country or instead of using a well-known company, use a local minority owned business.
- Teaching materials can often be limited to Western, white, male and middle-class narratives (Hill Collins, 2000; Scott & Sims, 2016). In addition to narratives disseminated by this population, include publications by non-Western, non-white, non-male, and nonmiddle-class authors and narratives.
- Be careful using potentially biased material.
- The typical Western World map does not accurately reflect reality. Try using the Peterson Projection map instead.
- Allowing alternative assignment options for non-traditional students encourages inclusion. o Veteran and Military affiliated and/or non-traditional aged students are further developed emotionally and cognitively than traditional students (Hassan, 2010). They will not learn or engage with the same materials and resources as traditional first-year students.
- Use inclusive language. Here are a few examples:
- Language that Encourages Inclusion
- Everyone, all, folx
- Spouse, partner, significant other
- Winter or Holiday Break
- Language that Creates Exclusion
- Ladies and Gentlemen
- Husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend
- Christmas Break
- Rider University has a great resource explaining the importance of inclusive language and contains more examples.
- Making the classroom more accessible encourages inclusion.
- Use audio equipment whenever possible.
- You may be able to project your voice, but individuals with hearing impairments will have issues within large lecture halls.
- Turn on closed captioning when showing videos in class. o Use this reference for online tips: Accessibility for Online Course Content
- Excessive talking or distractions creates exclusion as this can be very distractive to certain students.
- If utilizing assigned seats, make sure you ask if anyone needs certain accommodations before assigning seats.
- Asking students for accommodation preferences in front of their peers promotes exclusion. You can encourage inclusion by request accommodations through email, or similar venues, before assigning seats.
- Speak up if you see or hear discriminatory practices in your classroom, in the hallways, at campus events, etc.
- Be an ally for those that cannot speak up for themselves.
- This is as easy as stopping a sexist conversation or telling someone that a racist joke is not funny.
- If you are uncomfortable speaking up in that moment, please contact the DICE chair, the Dean’s Office, or DDEI.
- Continuously engage in self-reflection to understand and monitor your own biases and privileges.
- You can do this by attending diversity and inclusion events and workshops. o Perform a personal SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
- Great resources for Inclusive Teaching:
- Org Toolkit
- University of Michigan: Creating inclusive college classrooms
- Northern Illinois University: Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Toolkit
- Great resource to help understand classroom dynamics, inclusivity statements, and faculty development workshops/tips.
A special thank you to all who helped create this manual. In no particulate order, special thanks to Joshua Hall, Jeremy Roberts, Lauren Cooper, Rachel Nieman, Sarah Glenn, Nany Lynch, Sarah Buda, Kayla Follmer, Graham Peace, Rebel Smith, Cindy Dalton, Arron S Fleming, Richard Riley, Edward Tomlinson, Daniel Brewster from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Dr. Ellen Rodrigues from the LGBTQ+ Center, and Aisury Vasquez and Spenser Darden from the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Avery, D. R., & Steigard, D. S. (2008). Achieving political trans-correctness: Integrating sensitivity and authenticity in diversity management education. Journal of Management Education, 32(269).
Barreto, M., & Ellemers, N. (2005). The perils of political correctness: Men’s and women’s responses to old-fashioned and modern sexist views. Social Psychology Quarterly, 68, 75-88.
Hill Collins, P. (2000). Black Feminist Thought. NY: Routledge.
Hassan, A. M., Jackson, R., Lindsay, D. R., McCabe, D. G., & Sanders III, J. E. (2010). Bottom Line: The veteran student in 2010. About Campus, 15(2), 30-32.
Hurtado, S., Milem, J., Clayton-Pedersen, A., & Allen, W. (1999). Enacting Diverse Learning
Environments: Improving the Climate for Racial/Ethnic Diversity in Higher Education. ASHEERIC Higher Education Report, 26(8). Washington, DC: The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
Kishimoto, K., & Mwangi, M. (2009). Critiquing the rhetoric of "Safety" in feminist pedagogy: Women of Color offering an account of ourselves. Feminist Teacher, 19(2), pp. 87-102.
Murphy, M. C., & Zirkel, S. (2015). Race and belonging in school: How anticipated and experienced belonging affect choice, persistence, and performance. Teachers College Record, 117(12), 1-40
Scott, C., & Sims, J. (2016). White teachers in diverse classrooms: Using narrative to address teaching about racial dynamics. Developing Workforce Diversity Programs, Curriculum and Degrees in Higher Education. Hershey, PA: IGI Publishing.
Accessibility for Online Course Content. (2021). West Virginia University. Retrieved from https://tlcommons.wvu.edu/files/d/3e3933f2-9c3e-4a67-ab42405d69b028c7/qmaccessibility.pdf.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Faculty Toolkit. (2021). Northern Illinois University: Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Retrieved from https://www.niu.edu/diversity/educationtraining/toolkit.shtml.
Inclusive Teaching Practices Toolkit. (2021). Association of College and University Educators. Retrieved from http://acue.org/inclusive-teaching-practices-toolkit/.
Nelson Laird, T. F. (2014). Reconsidering the Inclusion of Diversity in the Curriculum.
Association of American College and Universities: A Voice and Force for Liberal Education.
Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/diversitydemocracy/2014/fall/nelson-laird.
Peterson Projection Map. (2017). Oxford Cartographers. Retrieved from https://www.oxfordcartographers.com/our-maps/peters-projection-map/.
Resources for Understanding and Confronting Racism and Its Impact. (2021). Duke Office for Institutional Equity. Retrieved from https://oie.duke.edu/node/536/.
Pronouns Matter. (2021). MyPronouns.org. Retrieved from https://www.mypronouns.org.
Sauders, S., & Kardia, D. (1997). Creating Inclusive College Classrooms. University of Michigan: Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. Retrieved from https://crlt.umich.edu/gsis/p3_1.
Tips for Allies of Transgender People. (2021) Glaad. Retrieved from https://www.glaad.org/transgender/allies.