The questions that sparked in my mind after hearing this topic “Inclusive pedagogy”, was: “Can I say, I practice inclusive pedagogy?”. Yes, I obey and tell my students to obey the Virginia Tech Principles of Community, but is that it? What more I can do to create an ambience in my class that it can be termed inclusive pedagogy? I do make groups in my class in a certain way (discussed later*), will you term that as an inclusive pedagogy? To be clear with the topic, I went thorough few of the readings for this week. The article, “From safe spaces to brave spaces”, though discussed in a context unfamiliar to me, still I think the authors’ elaboration with the case study clearly reflects the meaning of a safe space and how it can changed to a brave space. The discussion on the ground rules seemed much effective, helping me understand how I can better enforce the spirit of inclusiveness in my classroom. The ground rules stated were as follows: Agree to disagree, Don’t take things personally, Challenge by choice, Respect, No attack.
Implementing the ground rules in my classroom: In my introductory engineering classroom students are divided into groups to work on their project. The ground rules can be implemented and can be very useful in this context. After reading the article, I think, I should not only state Virginia Tech Principles of Community but on the same day conduct a good discussion on the ground rules, where I can elaborate on each of these rules and students can reflect from their experience. This discussion is as important as ethics discussion in class, since it will always help students to work and communicate in a diverse population, at the same time help the classroom to be more inclusive in nature. Students usually make team contracts where they write rules that they can follow when there is any type of conflict or scheduling clashes or rules for meetings, etc. Here students can also include these five ground rules, which should assist them in their communication with their varied team members.
*An attempt I make on creating a safe space: Students in my class usually fill out a survey with information on their technical background, which help me to make their project groups. Each group will have students having diverse technical competency. Another factor is that, in these groups of five to six members, I usually try to keep at-least two international students and keep gender balance, so that no one feels a loner in a team. I try not to make a group of one girl and 5 boys or vice versa. Sometimes, after announcing the teams in the class, when I see I have kept a girl/boy in a team where the other gender is dominant (being not able to interpret the gender from one’s name), I ask that person personally taking him/her to a side, if they feel un/comfortable working in that group. I do not want my action to jeopardize someone’s comfortability throughout a semester, and affect their creativity and work. For many students this has not been an issue but I found two people, who felt happy after changing their groups.
Do you think my way of making groups is an act of inclusive pedagogy? Do you think the idea I presented in the para 2 will work?