Writing about equity is always a bit awkward for me. I am extremely white, extremely male, solidly middle class, and I have not had the same experience with some of these issues that other people have. It makes for a gigantic elephant in the classroom, so to speak. Yet, student equity is still something I care very much about, and I believe that many other educators feel the same way.
Regardless of who you are and what your life experiences have been like, the issue of equity is a critical one to help all students grow and thrive. To better promote equity for our students, we need to understand who they are: how they see themselves, how they see the world, and how the world sees them. This is not simple and involves listening to our students and how they frame their own stories.
Small, bold steps
So, how can we begin building classrooms that support and affirm our students? First, we must educate ourselves to understand current inequities. Then, we can design appropriate supports and advocate for structures which remedy those inequities.
Here are three practical steps for getting started:
- Educate yourself (and your students): One of the biggest steps we can take to address equity in the classroom is to challenge our own beliefs. What assumptions, experiences, and biases are we holding on to that may implicitly shape how we present information to our students? Challenge yourself by reading books from diverse authors and by looking at what researchers are discovering about issues like race, class, and gender. Above all, listen to your students and be a model for productive conversation.