Inclusive Classroom

Courses taught in the Renée Crown University Honors Program maintain an atmosphere of productive learning for all participants by fostering an inclusive classroom environment.

Here are guidelines and resources for Honors instructors to help with this goal. If you have questions or issues in a particular class, please inform the Honors staff.  We want to facilitate productive and open dialogue so that we can all learn from each other.

How can I practice inclusive teaching?

  • When teaching, avoid exclusionary phrases such as “Everyone knows…,” “It is easy to imagine…,” or “Certainly the answer is obvious….” These phrases assume a shared cultural context and can function to silence or discourage students from asking questions.
  • Not all students will recognize cultural, literary and historical references familiar to you.
  • Listen for and respond to racist, ableist, sexist, homophobic and insensitive comments. Be aware that faculty set the tone in the classroom and students may assume faculty agree with or do not care about the impact of the problematic comments that are dismissed or ignored.
  • Do not ask a student to speak as a representative of their race or culture.
  • Review the material provided by the Office of Disability Services (ODS) on working with students with disabilities. Do not ask any student to explain the nature of their disability.
  • If a difficult classroom conversation based on challenging, sensitive and uncomfortable topics gets of control or becomes emotionally fraught, pause. Faculty can “hit pause” on the conversation and encourage students to write down their thoughts about the topic. Pausing can allow students and faculty to think, reflect, and consider thoughtful responses.
  • Be aware of your own identities, experiences, beliefs, and stereotypes and how you “show up” in the classroom.
  • Assess your conscious and unconscious biases about students based on dress, ability, surname, gender, race and other characteristics. To learn more, Harvard University’s Project Implicit has a range of brief tests designed to assess implicit bias for many issues, including race, sexual orientation, weight, religion, disability, skin-tone, and more.

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