Get to know students and colleagues as individuals
People’s identities are extremely complex and multi-layered. Our attachment to our identities may be laden with meaning and emotion, with important repercussions for our mental health and sense of ourselves (see Racism, Sexism and Homophobia/Power and Identity). When getting to know our students and colleagues, teachers can:
- become aware of the assumptions we are making based on a person’s appearance, accent, way of dressing, way of behaving, personality, or a myriad of other factors;
- internally monitor and question our assumptions, while making an effort to remain open to all possibilities as we get to know our student or colleague as an individual;
- wait for cues from the person we are getting to know in order to get a sense of how they see their identity;
- make room in our communication – through our language, attitude and approach – for many possibilities, ways to live, dreams, goals and values;
- support students in their healthy development by encouraging them to grow in a direction of their choosing, and to fulfill their dreams, goals and ambitions (as long as their choices do not take away their own or others’ rights).