The aim of today's post is to share what works in setting up an inclusive classroom. We know everyone aims to be inclusive, and their hearts are in the right place- how many people have you met that say 'I don't want my student to succeed?'- probably not one person! The point is we all want to support and to teach all our students. We want to have inclusive environments that are open and welcoming to all kiddos. We want to value all our students as individuals and as members of our learning community.
Below is a list of 9 things you can do to continue to build your inclusive classroom. These 9 things help bridge what you think and want to do with actual actions that you can do.
Examine your assumptions. Remember most students will not share the same background as us. It is important to respect and start to learn about your students' backgrounds & cultures- this will help you to develop an understanding of their narrative or what shapes some of their actions.
Learn and use students’ names. This is just a nice thing to do- learn your students names (even if you only see them once or twice a week) and learn how to pronounce them properly.
Model inclusive language. Using inclusive language is one the simplest ways to show students they are welcome regardless of how they differ from you.
Use multiple and diverse examples.Multiple examples increase the likelihood of students relating to at least one of them. Take care to include examples that speak to both sexes and that work across cultures.
Examine your curriculum. Try to ensure you represent your students' backgrounds and culture throughout your curriculum....and cultures not present in your class. Neglecting some issues implies a value judgment (Hooks 1994), which can alienate some kiddos.
Strive to be fair. Do not openly favour one thing or one perspective over another. Be mindful of low ability cues.This ties into using inclusive language- be careful not to use language that a student or anyone might interpret as putting a ceiling on their learning. For example, saying something about supporting the 'struggling readers' will negatively affect students' efficacy. Instead, it is more productive to focus on positives without drawing attention to the areas in which kiddos need additional support.
Provide supports when necessary. This is common sense- if a kiddo, any kiddo, needs support in a certain area help them out! Everyone needs some support at different times- this is okay! Make sure when you see a kiddo in need of support, you offer them the support you can....or help find the support.
Practice inclusive classroom behaviors. This is a practice! Research has shown us just how much implicit bias or our underlying assumptions can effect our actions. Our belief systems and our thoughts shape our actions, understandings, and decisions in an unconscious way. We may think we are acting openly and inclusively, but implicit bias is coming through without us realizing it. You can change, you should challenge your underlying assumptions, but it is a practice and will take time.