Inclusive Classroom Practices

  • You can introduce yourself with your name and pronouns on the first day of class and invite students to do the same.
  • If you are Safe Zone trained, mention it in class during the first day. Explain what your role is as a faculty member who’s an ally (consider an “elevator speech” of under 1 minute).If the class size is too large for everyone to do introductions, you can ask students to introduce themselves with their name and pronouns whenever they raise their hand to speak or ask a question for the duration of the semester.
Group Projects

When assigning group projects, assign group members or have them count off into groups instead of allowing students to select their own groups. This will reduce the likelihood that students who are visibly different will be excluded until a group realizes they’re a member short.

Communication Guidelines

You can utilize the first day of class to set expectations and communication guidelines for the course, which will allow you to:

  • Create a culture of trust that encourages difficult, but always respectful, dialogue and a judgment-free classroom space that retains accountability.
  • Avoid unintentionally creating the expectation that those with marginalized identities should be the only ones in the room qualified to address inappropriate/offensive language and behavior by empowering all class participants to address it, interrupting it in the moment and/or addressing it after class, depending on the situation.
  • Include an option (if you’d like) for students to participate in defining the communication guidelines, which may increase student buy-in and engagement throughout the semester.
Inclusive Language
  • Use inclusive language like “partner” instead of gendered language like “girlfriend” or “boyfriend.” Doing so will prevent an assumption about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Respectfully ask for a person’s pronouns if you are unsure how to address or describe them. You can do this by introducing yourself with your pronouns and then asking the person to share their pronouns. View sample language.
Inclusive Ice Breakers

Ice breaker activities are a fun and easy way to encourage students to meet one another and establish rapport during the first day of class. If you select an ice breaker in which a student introduces another student to the class after a brief conversation, ensure that you include pronouns as one of the interview questions. This will prevent an embarrassing situation in which a student is introduced to the class with the incorrect pronouns.