As an educator, you are responsible for creating a safe and inclusive environment for all of your students. While this sounds like it should be easy, it’s actually harder than it looks when you consider how diverse the average American classroom really is. Whether you’re a new teacher or someone who has been in the school system for years, here are some tips for creating a more inclusive classroom.
Mix Up Your Teaching Style
According to a study conducted by Raymond Wlodkowski and Margery Ginsberg, students who aren’t part of the “majority culture” don’t always respond well to more traditional teaching methods. In the United States, the “majority culture” usually refers to white, cisgender, Judeo-Christian students. Even if you mean well, it’s easy to forget that students who don’t fall into these categories may have had very different experiences and might not understand if you treat them exactly like everyone else. While you should never try to pander to minority students, don’t be afraid to switch up your lessons to include things that might be easier for them to relate to.
Establish Clear Rules
Even though you can and should switch up your lessons to be relatable to everyone, you should still make it clear that everyone should treat each other with the same level of respect. Establish clear ground rules in your classroom, and hold all of your students to them.
Evaluate Your Curriculum
Part of switching your teaching style will involve evaluating and questioning your school’s curriculum. There are a lot of great schools that keep their lessons inclusive and up-to-date, but there are just as many that are still dated and may not seem relevant to all of your students. If the latter is the case in your school, don’t be afraid to speak up and acknowledge this during your lessons.
Acknowledge Your Own Biases
As much as you might not want to admit it, you have your own biases when it comes to interacting with others. You might not act outwardly prejudiced, but you will find yourself forming opinions based on the stereotypes and misconceptions you may have had or still have. Sometimes the best you can do is understand that this will happen occasionally and try to work through it.
Acknowledge Individual Students
No two students are alike, even if they seem to come from similar backgrounds. Treat every student like an individual, and be patient with them. You can never know what their lives are like outside of the classroom or how it’s affecting their education.