On Friday Jan 9th, the TLC offered a series of 5 workshops on how to create an inclusive classroom. Hu, Amanda and Mary attended most of them and we’ve created a joint blog post.
Session 1. Teaching Inclusively: a Pedagogical Exploration
The first session of the day was “Teaching Inclusively: a Pedagogical Exploration” which Hu and Mary attended. Led by Katherine Ross, the session began by watching video clips of two college classes followed by an extensive discussion comparing and contrasting the two styles of instruction. We developed a list of characteristics of the more effective of the two including: create a sense of community; verify learning throughout the semester; engage students through technology; know your students; make the material relevant; articulate explicitly the learning objectives; and go to the place they are. Bottom line: good curriculum design creates an inclusive classroom
Here are some course design questions to ask oneself:
Who are we teaching?
What their concerns and needs?
What do they need or want to learn?
What big, interesting questions are we answering?
Is the desired learning visible?
is there a metacognitive organizational structure to the course?
Are the assignments and assessments (quizzes, tests, etc.) clearly targeted at the learning objectives? Are they weighted appropriately to the objectives?
Some of this material overlapped with other classes I’ve taken at the TLC such as Deep Learning, How to Conduct the First Day of Class, and others.
Session 3. Exploring the Inclusive Syllabus: What, Why and How
The third session of the day, “Exploring the Inclusive Syllabus: What, Why, and How,” was attended by Mary and Amanda and facilitated by Katherine Ross and Niki McInteer, a visiting professor teaching German Masterworks in Translation. The class highlighted ways to use the syllabus as a place to “set the tone” for an inclusive classroom. Suggestions included:
Using inclusive language like “you” and “we,”
Utilizing a “create your own” style grading scheme where students can choose among assignments and drop lowest scores
Including a complete course schedule
Creating a visually pleasing syllabus to entice students to read it
The session also included a brief tutorial on using Microsoft Publisher to build a visually appealing syllabus.
Session 4. Facilitating Difficult Discussions in the Classroom
The fourth session of the day was led by Anthropology professor and cultural anthropologist, Sherri Lawson Clark. This session began with each participant responding to one of four questions as a means of introduction. The questions included:
How do you define Diversity?
How many times today have you thought about your Diversity?
What is your Privilege?
What is a difficult topic you discuss in your class?
This led to a discussion of vocabulary around topics of diversity and some tools for facilitating difficult discussions in the classroom. The primary method discussed centered around addressing “the elephant in the room” at the start of any discussion. We also discussed a method that came up in the morning session, “meeting the students where they are.” Professor Clark uses Turning Point clickers, like the kits we check out to faculty and students, to get anonymous responses from students in her class. She also used the clickers as part of the workshop to shed light on current issues around diversity and inclusion in the US today.
Session 5. Working with International, Multilingual Readers and Writers
Session 5 was taught by Zak Lancaster from the English Department. International students come to us with different backgrounds that can strongly influence their English language skills. He divided this cohort into 3 groups: those who went to English-language high schools, those who’ve been learning English in school since the first grade and those who attended high school in the US. The group that attended high school in the US may have excellent command of the spoken language including slang and pop culture vocabulary, but have a less well developed command of the written language, while the former groups may have excellent command of the rules of grammar for written language, but lack verbal skills and vocabulary of the latter group. We talked in small groups and as a whole about the broad spectrum of ways in which to address errors in written and spoken English in classroom assignments.