According to the Clover Model of Youth Development published by the PEAR institute, a sense of belonging is one of the four essential elements that people of all ages need in order to thrive, learn, and develop. It is also a fundamental part of establishing a welcoming and inclusive learning community. This strategy provides the support needed for teachers to create and sustain such an environment, not only for the students in their classrooms, but also to represent the diversity in society.
Evaluate your classroom environment and practices to determine if the representation on the walls of your classroom, in your school and in the curriculum honors and includes your students and their families. Do you express interest in your students' personal stories both in and outside of the classroom and demonstrate care of your students beyond academics? If done effectively, your students will be able to respond to the question Do You See Me? In the affirmative.
Evaluate your classroom practices to determine if you proactively incorporate the prior knowledge and experience of your students, seek and respond to student feedback, incorporate student choice in the curriculum, have a well-developed empathy reflex, and engage in authoritative disciplinary practices. If done effectively, your students will be able to respond to the question Do You Hear Me? In the affirmative.
Evaluate your classroom practices to determine if you set clear and high expectations for your students, employ equal discipline and rewards, support students in struggle and push in success, engage in consistent and predictable assessment and empower different kinds of success. If done effectively, your students will be able to respond to the question Will You Treat Me Fairly? In the affirmative.
Evaluate your classroom practices to determines if you understand your students' identities and experiences, interrupt exclusive or oppressive behavior, teaching and discuss cultural power and difference, and encourage and practice collaboration. If done effectively, your students will be able to respond to the question Will You Protect Me? In the affirmative.
Refer to Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee's Practical Questions and Strategies for Increasing Inclusiveness linked below for support as you evaluate your practices and make the necessary changes to ensure that your students are seen, heard, treated fairly, and protected.
Explore the "Anti-Racism Activity: 'The Sneetches'" lesson from Teaching Tolerance in order to learn more about how to have your students engage in a simulation exercise in which they create plans and stand up against discrimination.
How can you help students in your classroom to see and hear others from diverse groups in society who may not be represented in your school community, and to treat others fairly and make others feel safe?
Explore the resources linked below in order to learn more about how to create an inclusive learning environment.