Workshop teaches classroom inclusivity

Inclusivity. It’s a bit of a buzzword on college campuses these days. But at Iowa State, university administrators are walking the talk — developing programs that take inclusivity from ideas to action.

Last fall, under the direction of senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert, the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) began creating a faculty workshop that focuses on inclusivity in the classroom. The class debuted earlier this semester and will continue monthly through April 2017. The next workshop is Nov. 9 (1:10-4 p.m., 2030 Morrill). Register in advance at Learn@ISU.

During the single, three-hour session, instructors learn how to:

  • Teach inclusively and why it’s important at Iowa State
  • Identify their personal attitudes toward inclusion, acknowledge how those attitudes impact teaching and develop strategies to become more inclusive
  • Enhance their self-awareness and instructional skills to contribute to an inclusive campus environment
  • Become familiar with the university’s student support resources

CELT will offer the workshop annually with separate training for new and continuing faculty members.

“The workshops are helping to build a standard of classroom inclusivity for faculty, helping them understand why it’s important to Iowa State and to student learning,” said Ann Marie VanDerZanden, CELT director and co-facilitator of the workshop.

Workshop prep

Prior to attending the workshop, faculty are required to complete four online modules to prepare for class discussions. Access to the modules is provided following registration for the workshop. The modules are:

  • ISU policies relevant to inclusion
  • Exploring your inclusive teaching persona
  • Developing a mindful syllabus and course design
  • Defining microaggressions and how they impact learning

“These changes can help students become more engaged in the classroom,” said Laura Bestler, CELT program director and co-facilitator of the workshop. “It’s a great opportunity for students to become better than they already are.”

Resources for writing syllabi and designing courses with an eye toward inclusivity are available on the CELT website for all instructors, whether or not they have completed the workshop.

Post-workshop opportunities

VanDerZanden and Bestler encourage workshop participants to attend a monthly discussion group, “Coffee and Crucial Conversations,” to continue the dialogue about teaching inclusivity on campus. The 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. discussions aim to help instructors create a stronger teaching community, create collaborative partnerships and develop effective teaching practices to meet the diverse needs of students. Visit Learn@ISU to view a schedule and register in advance.

VanDerZanden suggests departments continue – or begin – conversations about inclusive classrooms in staff or unit meetings.

“It’s important to have a conversation with your colleagues, if for no other reason than to be aware of your own internal biases and how classes can change to be inclusive for all students,” she said.

A definition

in·clu·siv·i·ty (noun): The active, intentional and ongoing engagement with diversity — in the curriculum, co-curriculum and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect — in ways that increase awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions. – Association of American Colleges and Universities

Originally posted October 27, 2016 in Inside Iowa State. Retrieved from Inside Iowa State website