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Three Practices for Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice

Reflect on your role as teacher; be transparent

  • Explain reasoning behind curricular and pedagogical choices
  • Admit lack of expertise in diversity issues and/or acknowledge discomfort with a topic when appropriate
  • Generate trust and respect through language and tone
  • Demonstrate cultural self-awareness; acknowledge what you represent to others
  • Establish writing & speaking ground rules
  • Set goals in relation to disability
  • Have a vocabulary to address class proceedings; what’s working and what’s not? 

Create an inclusive learning environment

  • Have a range of social groups/critical perspectives represented in the curriculum
  • Allow discussions to be discussions. Listen more than you speak.
  • Design assignments that meet diverse learning styles
  • Have students learn one another’s names (if a large class, maybe just in pairs)
  • Allow students to have input in class goals. Collectivity set ground rules.
  • Create small working groups that facilitate cross-cultural learning
  • Acknowledge, allow for cultural differences in communication styles/norms
  • Encourage willingness to disagree that respects the person but honestly confronts “the view”
  • Push the conversation when students hesitate to be honest; acknowledge difficulty/ hindrance of the need to be politically correct
  • Allow time for cognitive processing in discussion (silence can be fruitful)
  • Don’t single out a student to represent a social group unless you identify a student ally ahead of time who is comfortable working with you to further the discussion
  • Create mid-semester check-ins/evaluations in courses 

Integrate experiential and classroom/scholarly learning

  • Define terms that pertain to social issues relevant to your course/discipline
  • Use community learning and/or informal writing to bridge theory and experience
  • Identify spaces/times for “the personal” separate from or connected to research
  • Distinguish between social systems and individual experience (especially when confronted with: “that’s not true for me/in my experience.”)
  • Value process time; create room in your syllabus to integrate information
  • Make individual student growth a learning outcome for your class

Generated by Middlebury College Students, Faculty and Staff in the Teaching for Diversity Series

Co-sponsored by the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, The Center for Teaching, Learning and Research and the Writing and Rhetoric Program, Middlebury College, 2010