Inclusive Pedagogy

I really enjoyed this week’s readings on inclusive pedagogy because I think it is something that we all have to consider as teachers, especially when it comes to implicit biases. We all have grown up with unique experiences, and those views without a doubt shape the way we teach. Understanding how we can be self-aware of it when we go into the classroom will ultimately make us more successful teachers in the long run.

The Georgetown article had some good strategies that I’ve tried to incorporate into my teaching style. For example, the idea that diversity will be present in the classroom is true, and it does not just mean in terms of racially. I teach a public speaking class where I have students from all sorts of majors at Virginia Tech. That’s why we have speeches in the class where they can talk about concepts they have learned about in their major. I think that in turn gets them comfortable talking about something they have a baseline understanding about and as a result makes my class more enjoyable.

In addition, I love getting to know my students on an individual basis. Before classes start, I always play music- mostly older music such as “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder and “Move on Up” by Curtis Mayfield. My goal is that hopefully that will get them relaxed heading into class. Also, we do these informal assignments called “impromptu speeches” where I will ask students to share their thoughts on a random topic. For example, last week I ask my students to share their favorite place to eat off campus in Blacksburg and I ended up getting all but one student to participate! Asking our students questions to get to know them personally helps foster a  good classroom culture and hopefully brings forth active listeners and engagement.

What do other folks do to promote an inclusive learning style? I would love to be able to take some of your feedback back to my students.

4 Replies to “Inclusive Pedagogy”

  1. Billy,
    I really enjoyed reading your post. We have a lot of the same ideas about inclusive teaching. I agree that it is not easy to overcome (in my case) decades of being taught, through socialization, biases we may have been ingrained with. We may not even notice it in our teaching. I think that classes like this one and readings like this weeks can help us understand what our biases might be. Or at least shed light onto the fact that we may have (probably do have) biases in our teaching. You asked for a couple things that others do to help promote an inclusive environment. One of the things I try to do is use examples in my teaching that include everyone. I tend to use things around Virginia Tech that most if not all students have experience with. For example, using dining halls or crossing over the drill field. I hope this one example gives you a new idea about how to try to include all of your students.

  2. Billy! I really enjoyed your post. As we are both public speaking instructors, I relate to a lot of your points. I think that playing music before class goes a long way–especially when you’re playing the classics like Stevie Wonder. Do you still play these songs even though we are on Zoom? I have stopped playing music, because I am not sure how it will go over the computer speaker. I am also loving the impromptu speeches this semester, moreso than I normally do, really. It is allowing students to open up and interact with each other, when it is not as easy for them to interact as they normally would in our critique groups. I really like asking them “should exes be friends?” and it really gets the crowd going, but I will definitely try the “what’s the best place to eat in Blacksburg? question, because I feel like everyone has an opinion.

    As for my own classroom, I try to get students to talk about their own lived experience. If I know that I have an international student, I ask them impromptu questions having to do with their culture and what their lived experience is. I also sometimes ask impomptu questions about things I already know about them (their narrative speech, or after the issue analysis speech I like to ask them what side of the issue they fall onto). In terms of inclusive teaching, I go to great lengths every unit to ensure students that they are welcome in my room, and that they can feel safe to express their own opinions and thoughts. This is crucial in our classroom, as we are asking them to be vulnerable and asking them to share their lived experience.

  3. Billy,

    I love hearing that you also play music in the classroom for your students! By playing the classics specifically, I can tell that you are paying extra attention to keeping your classroom an inclusive space, especially seeing how hard it is to hate the oldies! After reading your post, I can tell how much of an effort you make in order to keep your students comfortable and relaxed, and I am sure they appreciate you more and more with every unit you go over.

    Personally, what I do to harbor an inclusive atmosphere is discuss life a bit at the start of class and hear where everyone is at before moving into the material, after playing music of course!

  4. Hi Billy, I think that is a really creative way to get students to feel comfortable and create a positive environment. I have also found higher participation from students in my class when we talk about topics (or reflect on ideas) that are familiar. Alexandria Rossi Alvarez

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