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Promoting Equity and Inclusion in the Classroom

While equity and inclusion are often buzzwords touted in the media, they provide indisputable benefits. For example, a McKinsey & Company study found that more ethnically and culturally diverse businesses are as much as 36% more profitable than the least diverse companies. And an article in the Harvard Business Review found that cognitively diverse teams solve problems faster.

The classroom is the foundation for building an equitable and inclusive world. It’s a place where the seeds of empathy and understanding are sown, and young minds are inspired to break down barriers and build bridges. The classroom is where every child, regardless of their background, should feel seen, heard and valued.

Educators have the power to nurture young people and empower them to spread their wings and soar to the heights they aspire to reach. Continue reading to explore practical ways to promote equity and inclusion in the classroom that can change the world, one child at a time.

The journey to equity and inclusion begins with creating a supportive classroom environment for all students. While sometimes more easily said than done, the following tips can help teachers accomplish this vital goal.

Create a Welcoming Environment

When students feel welcome, they feel valued and respected and are more likely to participate in class. A welcoming classroom environment is particularly important for students from marginalized or underrepresented backgrounds who may already feel disconnected from the school community.

Practice Culturally Responsive Education

Culturally responsive education is an approach that acknowledges and respects students’ diverse cultural backgrounds, ensuring that learning experiences are relevant and engaging for all.

Engage Universal Design for Learning

Universal design, or differentiated instruction, is a teaching approach that focuses on meeting the diverse needs of students by tailoring instruction to their abilities, interests and learning styles. Providing multiple means of engagement, representation and expression helps teachers address the diverse needs of students and support equitable learning opportunities.

Providing information in various formats — visual, auditory and kinesthetic — can help cater to students’ learning styles and preferences. In addition, teachers can provide varied resources, like leveled texts, videos and online materials, to accommodate different reading levels and interests. Pre-assessment tools, like surveys, questionnaires and informal observations, can be used to gather this information.

Acknowledge Implicit Bias

Most people have implicit biases — unconscious attitudes, stereotypes or beliefs, based on race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, etc. — they hold about other people, and teachers are no exception. These biases can influence teachers’ expectations, interactions and decision-making processes in ways that may not be immediately apparent.

Institute Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning is an educational method that brings students together in small groups or teams to solve problems, complete tasks or achieve a common goal. It can lead to equity and inclusion in the classroom by fostering a positive learning environment that values and respects the diverse perspectives and contributions of all students.

Promoting Equity and Inclusion in the Classroom

Equity and Inclusion in the Classroom Prepare Students for Life

These practices foster an environment where all students feel valued, respected and heard, regardless of their backgrounds or abilities. By promoting equity and inclusion, educators can better prepare students for life by:

Developing Empathy and Understanding

Engaging with diverse perspectives and experiences in the classroom helps students develop empathy and understanding, preparing them for life by teaching them to appreciate and value the differences they will encounter in the world.

Enhancing Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

Addressing equity and inclusion challenges students to think critically about their biases and assumptions. As a result, they develop the problem-solving skills needed to navigate complex social issues in real-world situations.

Encouraging Collaboration and Teamwork 

Collaboration and teamwork are valuable life skills, allowing students to work effectively with others in various personal and professional settings.

Promoting Cultural Competence

Learning about and respecting other cultures, languages and experiences of others helps students develop cultural competence, which is essential for succeeding in an increasingly diverse and global society.

Get the Tools and Resources You Need

The National Math and Science Initiative offers curriculum supports, coaching and several other services to help empower teachers. Our core programs help build strong communities of educators who work together, practice together and reflect on their teaching and the needs of their students. We design our programs and services to meet educators at the intersections where help is needed to become high-quality teachers who deliver better student outcomes.