Weave it into our everyday activities
Creating an atmosphere in the classroom and school that is equitable, inclusive and respectful of diversity is not a “one-shot deal”. It is a continuous process, much like raising a child. The goal is to create a “new normal”, so that it becomes second nature to think about a range of possibilities, to check on who we are missing in our thinking, speaking, behaviour and attitudes. Normalizing equity and inclusion means taking them out of the realm of special occasions, events and commemorations, and practising them in everyday life.
To build equity and inclusive education into our everyday teaching role, teachers can:
- Build it into our teaching style.When we ask questions, give examples or facilitate discussions on any topic, we can find ways to frame them so that they are open and include a diverse range of people, lifestyles and possibilities.
- Integrate them into the curriculum. It would be a daunting prospect for teachers to create special lesson plans and activities on equity and inclusion for the whole school year. Rather, these issues can be woven into the curriculum. (For ideas and examples on how to integrate issues into the curriculum, see Integrating with Curriculum.)
- Lay a foundation of inclusion and respect for diversity that shapes all our human and pedagogical interactions with students. When we respond to incidents in the classroom, when we field students’ questions and answers, when we interact informally with students, we find opportunities to encourage the development of attitudes and beliefs that are equitable and inclusive. For example:
- When students come back after the Easter weekend, ask if anyone did anything special on their day off (rather than asking if everyone had a nice Easter).