What Can I Do?
As the teacher, you have a great deal of agency in shaping inclusion within your courses. The identity and reflection you bring to the course, the choices you make about content and teaching strategies, the expectations you set and rapport you build are all powerful tools. We encourage each teacher at Ohio State to create inclusive classrooms through proactive planning before the semester begins. It is also often the case that we find ourselves responding in the moment to conflict or incidents where inclusive teaching strategies are necessary.
Here are some core strategies for incorporating inclusive practices in your teaching when planning a course and when responding to incidents.
Planning an Inclusive Course
Create a welcoming, respectful learning environment
- Get to know your students
- Set explicit expectations for civil discourse
- Model inclusive language on your syllabus and during classroom interactions
Visit our page on Shaping a Positive Learning Environment for more resources.
Use teaching methods that consider diverse learning preferences, abilities, ways of knowing, and prior experience and knowledge.
- Use multiple teaching strategies that allow students to access the content and demonstrate their learning in more than one way.
- Don’t conflate writing ability with thinking ability
- Incorporate texts and perspectives that help a wide variety of students connect to the content
Visit our page on Effective Teaching Strategies for more resources.
Promote respectful interaction among students and between you and the students
- Respond to conflict or incivility
- Plan for controversial topics
- Collect feedback from students at multiple points during the semester
Responding to Conflict or Incivility
This is not a problem that can be solved with quick tips: if you are experiencing teaching related conflict or classroom incivility that you need help addressing, please contact us for a personal consultation.
When tempers flare or controversial topics are raised, classroom conflicts can disrupt your learning environment and make students feel confused, anxious, or unsafe. Learning is a messy, sometimes emotional process. Just as we expect to see mistakes and opportunities for growth in writing or problem solving, it’s developmentally normal for students to need practice exploring emotional ideas and challenging their perspectives before they can grow as critical thinkers. Critical incidents can become powerful learning experiences when teachers are prepared to handle the situation:
- Have a plan before teaching controversial topics to minimize conflict
- Learn more about stereotype threat and why responding to incivility matters
- When unexpected conflict occurs, acknowledge the situation and respond.
It is not always possible to prevent incivility, micro-aggressions or outright conflict from entering our classrooms. There are many acceptable approaches for responding to these classroom conflicts. Being prepared with one or two responses can help you regain control of the classroom when emotions are running high.
- Slow things down with writing
- Stop everything to restate your expectations for respectful behavior
- Use the Open The Front Door strategies to model for students a way to process and move forward
Remember: responding to an incident after the fact is still better than ignoring it completely. If you have experienced a conflict that you were unprepared to handle, you can return to the classroom in the following lesson and describe what happened, why it is a problem, and what your expectations are moving forward.