What Teachers Can do to Create Inclusive Classrooms

Highlights from Our #ClassroomChat

We recently had the opportunity to connect with passionate educators in our #ClassroomChat on Twitter, which focused on creating inclusive and equitable classroom environments. The chatters shared a variety of strategies for making learning accessible, relevant, and engaging to all students. You can read all of the shared strategies by following the chat archive here, or read on for a few of the common themes that continually emerged during the chat.

While there are countless ways to go about creating an inclusive and equitable classroom environment and achieving equity in education is an extremely complex goal that involves many different factors, here were a few of the most important strategies that our chatters focused on this week:

Know your students.

Across questions, chatters often returned to the importance of knowing students on an individual level, in relation to both their academic needs and more personal needs — such as experience, culture, background, etc. — because all of these elements are inextricably tied and together influence a student’s relationship with school. Chatters suggested getting to know students’ family, interests, and goals as a way to engage them in class, make learning experiences truly meaningful, and provide them with highly personalized supports that cater to their current and future needs. It’s also important to create a space where students feel comfortable sharing their experiences. Here’s a specific contribution from the chat:

To read more about how teachers get to know their students, see:

Provide students with explicit and relevant instruction.

Discussion also returned frequently to the importance of not assuming that students have specific prior knowledge or specific knowledge gaps. Use formative assessment or CFUs to carefully track what students know or don’t know, and provide explicit instruction in critical skills and content. Chatters also stressed the importance of making instruction relevant to students by connecting it to their college or career goals, and providing them with the skills they’ll need to succeed in those particular goals.

For more resources on explicit and relevant instruction and formative assessment, see:

Engage family and the community.

We can’t stress this element enough: family and community engagement is key to creating an equitable, inclusive learning environment. Relationships with students’ families can help you both get to know your students better, make learning more relevant to them, and ensure that their needs are met. Families should have a voice in student learning, and educators are in a position to empower families who may have previously been excluded from school engagement to develop open lines of communication. Community engagement can provide students with additional, alternative learning opportunities and can help them make connections for college and career. Here are some specific strategies and thoughts shared in the chat:

For more resources on parent and family engagement, see:

Identify and disrupt inequitable practices.

While it’s a daunting task, chatters stressed the importance of identifying persistent inequities that serve as barriers to student learning and working to disrupt or remove those barriers in daily classroom activities. While many of these barriers can be deeply ingrained in institutional practices and impossible for educators to change as individuals, teachers can still strive for equity by altering daily practices and empowering students one at a time. Here are a few examples of how chatters were thinking about inequity and inclusivity from a wider lens:

Join us for our next chat on June 19, focusing on New Trends in Purposeful Technology, by following @McGrawHillK12 and using #ClassroomChat.