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

Writing and Rhetoric Program

Catharine Wright, Director
Chellis House, 201

Tiffany Wilbur, Coordinator
Mahaney Arts Center, 202