Inclusive teaching involves cultivating awareness of the dynamics that shape classroom experiences and impact learning. It also involves being responsive to these dynamics and intentional about using strategies, or inclusive moves, that foster a productive learning environment. Sometimes there will be difficulty; inclusive teaching empowers students and teachers to navigate this together. Ultimately, inclusive teaching is good teaching.
Inclusive Course Design
When designing a course, each move matters. From your selection of course materials, to your teaching methods, to the ways you ask students to demonstrate their learning, your course may privilege some students while disadvantaging others. There are moves you can make during the course design phase, though, that can help you create a more equitable and inclusive learning experience.
As teachers or students we all walk into the classroom with expectations and norms that have been cultivated by the communities and cultures from which we come. Some identities, cultures, and backgrounds have more power and privilege than others in traditional college classrooms. Given this fact, questions emerge: How do different identities intersect to affect teaching and learning? How might implicit bias and stereotype threat show up in the classroom? What do manifestations of power and privilege look like in learning environments?
Students should have equitable opportunities for learning, regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, linguistic or socioeconomic background, ability, and more. What concrete moves can we make to foster an optimal environment for learning, which encourages engagement, authenticity, and respect?
Group agreements are rules, intentions, or guidelines for behavior and interaction that are communally formulated and agreed upon. They are a useful tool for fostering participation, inclusivity, and habits of explicit consent and accountability in the classroom.
Navigating Difficult Moments in the Classroom
You make a remark that instigates a strong emotional reaction in a student or group of students. A student offers a comment that marginalizes a range of people and perspectives. Someone is wearing a piece of clothing or taking up space in a way that surfaces ideological disagreement. Now what?
As a teacher of Harvard undergraduates, you are expected to act professionally in your dealings with your students and within your courses' teaching staffs. You must be fair, equally available to all of your students, friendly but not your students' friend, well-prepared for class, and prompt. You must also take seriously your obligations to protect your students’ private information and to act ethically with regard to any sensitive information you may obtain about your students and/or fellow teachers. Harvard provides instructors with a number of guidelines, and support structures, to ensure that you are meeting your obligations with regard to professional conduct, Title IX, and student privacy.