Inclusive Teaching, Tips on Teaching

Creating an Inclusive Classroom

by Victoria Carter, Graduate Assistant, Reinert Center

As we settle into mid-semester, we should reflect, “Do my students feel like they belong in my class?” This is something that we should be thinking about often. But, with all the moving pieces that come with teaching, it can slip our minds.

There are many aspects of creating an inclusive classroom. From fostering a sense of belonging, to building rapport, or updating classroom content, students notice the effort we put into our course.

Cultivating a sense of belonging in the classroom and the broader university campus, can make the difference between whether a student will complete their program successfully.

There are several goals that can be embodied by a sense of belonging. I’ve found Hurtado et. al (2008) provided reoccurring themes in these four goals:

  1. Ensuring that students of underrepresented populations have the support they need to be academically successful.
  2. Building relationships and developing multicultural skills with members from diverse backgrounds.
  3. Enhancing students’ ability to participate in the global community.
  4. Increasing the participation of students of color in campus life.

(Hurtado 2003, in Locks, Hurtado, Bowman, & Oseguera, 2008 p. 279)

When reading these goals, do you feel that you have implemented them into your class and the broader campus community? Think about some of the feelings that came about when you embarked on your collegiate journey. Did you feel prepared? Were you missing your family and friends at home? Did you feel confident in your abilities as a student?

These are some of the feelings your students may have and continue to have while they navigate college life, in addition to a pandemic.

Every aspect of our course should be considered when thinking about an inclusive classroom.

Saunders and Kardia (1997) broke down some of these considerations into five aspects: 

  1. Course content
  2. Prior assumptions and awareness of potential multicultural issues in classroom situations
  3. Planning of class sessions, including the ways students are grouped for learning
  4. Knowledge about the diverse backgrounds of your students
  5. Decisions, comments, and behaviors during the process of teaching.