instructor preparation

An Instructor’s Guide to Understanding Privilege

This page helps instructors better understand and attend to the ways that privilege operates in the classroom. Privilege refers to the systemic or structural advantages that affect people based on identity factors, such as race, gender, sex, religion, class, sexuality, and disability. Depending on their proximity to privilege, students and instructors may find that thinking about and discussing privilege can be difficult. Students and instructors can navigate this difficulty by acknowledging discomfort without avoiding discussion. Instructors should familiarize themselves with the ways that privilege can impact their classroom and implement strategies to mitigate this impact.

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.

Doing One’s Own Personal Work on Privilege and Oppression

This page is intended as a starting place for instructors to think about their own experience of privilege and oppression as a crucial part of the foundational work of inclusive pedagogy. It is important for instructors to learn about and reflect on topics like social identity, social relations, inequality, and social justice education because we expect our students to do the same. Instructors can share with students their own learning process, but only when such sharing is done appropriately and with educational benefit. This guide offers reflective questions for instructors to explore and suggestions for ways to work through the personal challenge of anti-oppressive work.

Gender Diversity and Pronouns

This page helps instructors better meet the needs of transgender and nonbinary students. Gendering, or the social assignment/designation of a person’s gender, usually on the basis of perceived sex, is often a key aspect of interactions inside and outside the classroom. The routine invalidation of trans people through misgendering contributes to a culture that punishes and dehumanizes trans people for existing. Because instructors have a responsibility to create a space in which students feel safe, welcomed, and respected, this resource provides instructors with information about correct pronoun use and trans-inclusive course policies to avoid misgendering.

Stereotype Threat

This page explains the stereotype threat, provides strategies for instructors to counteract the stereotype threat, and directs instructors to further resources. Stereotype threat is the risk that people who fall into identity groups that are often negatively stereotyped may underperform in evaluative settings like the classroom, as a result of feeling the pressure of the stereotype. Although stereotype threat can impact student performance in any course, it is particularly prevalent in STEM courses, so this page focuses primarily on the context of STEM courses. To overcome the stereotype threat, instructors should emphasize that course skills are learned rather than innate in addition to fostering an inclusive classroom environment.

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.