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Nurturing an inclusive environment for young students is an important part of a teacher’s job.

As well as protecting minority-group students from marginalization, inclusivity training is an important part of every child’s education as it teaches tolerance and appreciation of difference.

However, it can be tricky to work out how best to achieve inclusivity without singling out certain students for their differences. We’ve put together a few helpful tips for anyone wondering how to facilitate a more tolerant and welcoming classroom.

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1. Be conscious of the teaching resources you are using

Many teachers fail to realize that the books and educational resources they use are authored solely by straight white men and are limited intellectually. Studying the same world views can be boring for students. Offer them a more inclusive education by studying books, speeches, and articles from diverse voices. Check out this helpful guide if you need help finding new books to study.

2. Look out for harmful language

While racial slurs and offensive curse words should be punished, it is important to look out for language that marginalizes people more subtly. For example, some children have used the phrase “I’m so triggered” as a joke without considering that others in their class may have had traumatic experiences. If you notice a student using this kind of language, let them know how it could harm others.

3. Plan accessible field trips

Remember to look after the needs of disabled students when planning field trips. For example, it may not be a good idea to plan a long hike if one of your students has an issue with their legs or a less visible condition such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). To ensure everyone is accounted for, ensure students fill out a health and safety form before going on the trip.

4. Don’t be didactic about gender

Try not to promote gender conformity in the classroom. If a young male student wants to play with a doll’s house, let them. Encouraging children to break away from traditional gender roles is a great way to build a more inclusive world.

5. Make sure that you reprimand students consistently

While it is important to note that a certain child may be acting out due to the pressures they face in the outside world, you must treat all students equally. This means they should face the same consequences for breaking a rule.

6. Don’t allow students to shame each other

If a student mocks a classmate about an aspect of their identities, such as their dress or accent, let the student know they are in the wrong and give them a warning.

7. Be careful about your language

It can be easy to make assumptions about your students’ home lives, and you may frequently refer to ‘mom and dad’ or ‘grandma and grandpa’. This can alienate kids living in foster care or under the guardianship of other relatives. You may also teach kids with LGBTQ+ parents that do not conform to the nuclear family structure.

8. Encourage the creation of community spaces

Creating spaces for students from marginalized communities is a great way to seek support from others who will understand their life experiences. As a teacher, you could encourage pride events within the school and help students with fundraising.

9. Take part in diversity training

You may be resistant to taking on extra work, but diversity training can improve your experience as a teacher and make your job feel more rewarding. To read up on the many benefits of diversity training, check out this article.

10. Allow students to share their experiences

Invite students to talk about their individual experiences during ‘sharing lessons’. Let students know that the lessons are open forums to discuss identity and marginalization issues.

11. Be careful about pronouns

Avoid asking students to share their preferred pronouns during icebreaker sessions at the start of the semester. This could pressure closeted students to out or misgender themselves. Instead, offer your pronouns as a subtle invitation for others to share theirs if they feel comfortable.

12. Be wary of sexist dress codes

School dress codes often penalize female students with shaming language. For example, short skirts may be deemed too “distracting” for male staff or students. Fight for equality by insisting that school administrators back up dress code choices with non-sexist language.

13. Teach beyond Christianity

If you teach religion, try to spend equal time focusing on each religion. Many schools spend a disproportionate amount of the school year teaching about Christianity.

14. Try to avoid celebrations that may exclude certain students

Try to avoid holding class celebrations that may exclude certain students. For example, if Muslim students are in the class, avoid holding a celebration involving food during Ramadan, as they may be fasting.

15. Push for gender-neutral bathrooms

Trans or non-binary students could hugely benefit from a few gender-neutral bathrooms around the school. If your school only has binary bathrooms, try encouraging the school to change the system.