Glossary – Equitable Teaching


This glossary is intended to be an aid in navigating the resources and activities for Inclusive Classrooms. You may come across new terms and/or ideas as you go through our website and you will be able to find corresponding definitions, as well as examples, on this page. For terms that are blue, you can click into the corresponding activity/resource by clicking on the term itself. Please feel free to comment with any additional words and/or ideas that you would like to see defined on this page.


In building design, accessibility is ensuring a facility is accessible for people with physical disabilities. In the classroom, accessibility is about preparation and thoughtful consideration for the different abilities and learning styles that are present, ensuring that students with disabilities have full access to learning opportunities in the classroom.


Anti-Racism is the awareness of and active rejection of institutional, systemic, and structural policies, practices and behaviors that create and maintain white supremacy. It is also the creation of new structures, policies, practices, behaviors, and relationships that undo their racist predecessors and the conditions that make them possible.
Source: LSA Anti-Racism Task Force


Acronym that stands for, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

Cisgender (Cis)

People who were assigned a sex and gender at birth that is in agreement with their self-designated gender. Commonly abbreviated as Cis.

Content Warning

A verbal or written notice that precedes potentially sensitive content.


Diversity and inclusion.


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. View the University of Michigan’s DEI Strategic Plan.

Dialogue Blockers

A way to block or divert dialogue as a defensive response to perspectives they find uncomfortable or challenging, dialogue blockers function rhetorically to silence a perspective or divert the conversation away from a critical insight.

Dominant Narrative

A dominant narrative is an explanation or story that is told in service of the dominant social group’s interests and ideologies.
Example: The United States is a meritocracy where anyone can achieve their ambitions through hard work and perseverance.


An assumption made about the social assignment or designation of a person’s gender, usually on the basis of perceived sex.

Gender Binary

The idea that gender exists in two forms: masculine and feminine. This binary is created by social systems or cultural beliefs.

Gender Neutral

The idea that policies, language, and other social institutions (social structures, gender roles, or gender identity) should avoid distinguishing roles according to people’s sex or gender.
Example: Instead of saying, “ladies and gentlemen,” say, “everyone”. Instead of saying, “boyfriend,” or “girlfriend,” say, “partner.”

Growth Mindset

The belief that abilities and traits can be developed through strategic efforts and hard work, and are not simply innate or fixed.

Hot Moment

The sudden eruption of tension and conflict in classroom discussion. Hot moments can occur when a well-intentioned student says something that is politically charged and personally offensive to some members of the class or the instructor.

Implicit Bias

Also known as unconscious bias, implicit bias is the way that stereotypes and attitudes we are not aware of shape our behavior; thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control.

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome exists when individuals self doubt, diminish their accomplishments, or are in fear that they don’t belong in a certain academic or professional setting, expecting to be called out as a fraud.

Inclusive Teaching

Inclusive Teaching involves deliberately cultivating a learning environment where all students are treated equitably, have equal access to learning, and feel welcomed, valued, and supported in their learning. Such teaching attends to social identities and seeks to change the way systemic inequities shape dynamics in teaching-learning spaces, affect individuals’ experiences of those spaces, and influence course and curriculum design.
SourceUniversity of Michigan Center for Research on Learning & Teaching


The ways aspects of identity (gender, race, religion, sexual orientation) intersect to create specific experiences, needs, privileges, and oppressions.


A gender-neutral term, replacing Latino or Latina.


Abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning).


A comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced or hostile attitude toward a member of a marginalized group.


Non-binary is the descriptor for someone whose gender identity is not exclusively male or female.

People of Color

Term to describe people who are non-white, with an emphasis on the common experience of systemic racism.
A note on this term from Racial Equity Tools: It is important whenever possible to identify people through their own racial/ethnic group, as each has its own distinct experience and meaning and may be appropriate.

Perfectly Logical Explanations

A way for an individual, who voices a dominant narrative, to simultaneously provide context to justify their perspectives.
Example: “I’m not racist or anything; this is just the experience I had growing up”


The way one’s social location or position is assigned and negotiated as the result of combining various social factors or identities (e.g., race, sex, class, gender, ability, sexual orientation).
SourceColumbia Center for Teaching and Learning


Societally granted, unearned advantages accorded to some people and not others. These systemic or structural advantages impact people based on identity factors such as race, gender, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexuality, class, and body type.

Stereotype Threat

The risk that people who fall into identity groups that are often negatively stereotyped may underperform in evaluative settings such as the classroom, as a result of feeling the pressure of the stereotype.
Example: A woman underperforms in a math course due to a perceived sense of not belonging in the classroom and a fear of confirming the stereotype that men are better than women at math.

Target Group

A participant in a dialogue or conversation that has less social power than the Agent Group. The Target Group’s perspective and/or experience is typically not in agreement with the Dominant Narrative.


People who were assigned a sex and gender at birth that is not in agreement with their self-designated gender identity or expression.

Trigger Warning

A specific variety of content warning that attempt to forewarn audiences of content that may cause intense physiological and psychological symptoms for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders.

Unconscious Bias

See: Implicit Bias

Underrepresented Group

Describes a specific population that holds a smaller percentage within a subgroup than the population holds in the general population.
Example: Compared to their share of the U.S. population, women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minority groups are underrepresented in STEM education and employment. Learn more here.

White Privilege

The collective unearned advantages, both historical and current, given to people based solely on their racial identification as white. These unearned advantages undergird White peoples’ access to a range of rights, benefits, favor, and immunity, which results in their preferential treatment over People of Color.
Source: LSA Anti-Racism Task Force

White Supremacy

The belief that the those who identify as white are inherently superior to other races, including the social, economic, and political systems that collectively enable white people to exploit, oppress, and maintain power over people of other races.

Ze/Zir or Ze/Hir Pronouns

Gender-inclusive pronouns that disrupt the culture of making assumptions about one’s gender identity/expression.

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