Teaching for Inclusion

I am giving you hand why don’t you accept!
I don’t care about your name, address, color, country, or location
I care for humans including those who are homeless

This was the outro of an Egyptian song entitled “Egyptian Tale”. That’s what I think each teacher should do in his class. The teacher should even stop stereotyping before entering the classroom.  What concerns the teacher is that these are students, every one is here to learn. The teacher should not have any discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.

However, with the great diversity in the universities’ community today, it became essential for teachers to learn more about their students’ needs. It is not enough to treat students equally as “Equality is not Equity”. Some students need more from their teachers rather than teaching. To address this problem, I want to mention a great book called “Teaching for Inclusion, Diversity in the College Classroom” written by  the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The book gives great examples and methodologies to deal with different types of students.

I picked up some of these guidelines which I think are very important, I grouped them by category based on my reading:

Gender:

  • Treat students as individuals, not as representatives of their gender.
  • Avoid sexist language in classroom discussions, lectures, and in written materials that you distribute to the class. (Don’t use only masculine words like he/him).

Religion:

  • Don’t assume that all students are from the major religion in this country.
  • Be tentative to student’s religious holidays and be flexible to accommodate students’ needs about changing or shifting deadlines/exams.
  • If you had to critique a religion or belief in your course just show respect for those who hold these beliefs.

Sexual orientation:

  • Assume that not all students in a class are heterosexual, and react firmly to homophobic remarks made in class.
  • Don’t give assignments that force students to reveal their social life.
  • Change some of your terms to be adequate to all student such as “partner” instead of “boyfriend” or “girl friend”, and use “sexual orientation”  rather than “sexual preferences”.

I did not mention physical disabilities, medical needs, and learning disabilities as I think they are well settled by universities and there are always special people to guide these students and to direct teacher in dealing with every case.

Finally, I think as  a teacher you should be easy accessible to your students. All students should feel you as an easygoing person. You should in the begging of each semester email students to feel free to tell you about any special needs they want, like preferring other names as we discussed in class. I think it also would be great if you held some of your office hours in a public place, like a cafe or restaurant at the lunch time. Students can come and discuss whatever they want with you at this time. Meeting in public helps students to say what they feel inadequate in formal offices.

4 thoughts on “Teaching for Inclusion

  1. Interesting list you have started. It is always good to compile things to get a larger sense of what you are reading. I suggest doing this in the discussion in class and then seeing what sort of combined information you might have.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for your reply, I believe that these are only examples or the most obvious examples and by discussion we can come up with more information or views.

  2. Thanks for sharing.

    I really like how you did the breakout of the topics, and provide specific recommendations.

    I will say we need to add ethnicity, and ability. Since those are also two very complex issues. As per your comment on disabilities, believe me, I’m working with a case of disability right now and the office for disabilities at VT are not being very effective treating a disable student. I’ll comment more on class tomorrow.

    Homero

    1. The book I mentioned discussed some ethnicity groups but I was not able to list them here as recommendations were specific to each group. One of the blogs this week, which I agree with, suggested giving professors courses or workshops to let them know about each ethnicity or minorities as described by the blog. I think this could be a solution to the ethnicity problem. And of course waiting for your comment tomorrow about disabilities.

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