course preparation

Facilitating Through “Perfectly Logical Explanations”

This page focuses on an article written by the Commission for Social Justice Educators. The article describes multipartiality, or the strategy of balancing the power of narratives in discussion facilitation, as a way to address the weight and power of dominant narratives. Dominant narratives are generalized assumptions that dismiss others’ experiences and reference the experience of privileged groups to refer to everyone. Multipartial facilitators invite participants to analyze the limitations of their thinking and encourage the contribution of counternarratives.

Inclusive Syllabus Language

This page offers inclusive language that instructors may adopt and adapt for their own syllabi, such as sample syllabus sections and examples of discussion guidelines. Some sample syllabus sections that promote inclusivity include Religious/Cultural Observance and Student Mental Health and Well-being. Additionally, the discussion guidelines can be used to communicate expectations to students on how to approach material and one another in the classroom. This page demonstrates how inclusive pedagogical practices can be implemented in syllabus construction.

Hot Moments

This handout provides strategies for responding to “hot moments,” or the sudden eruption of tension and conflict in classroom discussion. Hot moments often occur when a well-intentioned student makes a comment that is politically charged and personally offensive to members of the class or the instructor. This resource equips instructors with skills to turn hot moments into teachable moments. Potential strategies include depersonalizing insensitive comments by critiquing the statement rather than the speaker and allowing students to write individually and anonymously about an insensitive comment.

Discussion Guidelines

This resource helps instructors develop inclusive discussion guidelines for general discussion-based classes as well as classes specifically geared towards diversity and justice. Clear discussion guidelines at the start of the term make it easier for instructors and students to navigate challenging material and interpersonal conflict. Guidelines also serve as a reminder later in the term should discussion conduct deteriorate. Instructors can use this resource to set up guidelines or cooperate with students to establish guidelines. Examples of guidelines include making an effort to get to know other students and being mindful of when you are taking up more space than others in the conversation.

Responding to Common Dialogue Blockers

This page helps instructors manage the way some students block or divert dialogue as a defensive response to perspectives they find uncomfortable or challenging. Common blockers and suggested responses for how to restore dialogue effectively, authored by Kelly Obear of the Social Justice Training Institute, are listed below. For instance, “Explain-Aways,” which appeal to the dominant narrative as a way to side-step critique without addressing the key issues in question, are one type of blocker. Further strategies for instructors to approach difficult classroom dialogue, such as turning it to the group and using “I statements,” are also available below.

Inventory of Inclusive Teaching Strategies

The Inventory of Inclusive Teaching Strategies has 50 concrete strategies to help instructors build an inclusive classroom. The Inventory has four course components: student-instructor interaction, student-student interaction, content, and instructional practices. Instructors can use this resource to reflect on their classroom practices and decide which strategies they would like to implement.

Setting the Tone for Inclusive Classrooms

This page details five general practices for building inclusivity in the classroom, from syllabus design to interpersonal interactions. The five general practices are: (1) Establish clear expectations and goals for classroom interactions, (2) Build rapport and community in your class, (3) Model inclusive language that acknowledges student difference, (4) Help students develop awareness of multiple visible and invisible identities in the classroom, and (5) Address tensions or problematic patterns of interaction. Each practice has specific steps outlined below.

Useful Questions for Dialogue Facilitation

These questions prompt students to engage more deeply with challenging topics and one another. The questions are set up to familiarize instructors with student-centered pedagogy and are appropriate for student-centered discussion facilitation. There are fourteen types of questions: Action, Analytical, Cause and Effect, Challenge, Diagnostic, Evaluative, Exploratory, Extension, Hypothetical, Open-Ended, Priority, Process, Relational, and Summary.