Students bring a host of identities with them into the classroom each day. When they feel that some or all of their identities are not recognized or respected, they become vigilant for signs they do not belong and disengage with the learning process. If, on the other hand, they believe that they can bring their full selves into the classroom and be empowered as valuable members of the classroom community, they invest deeply in relationships with their teacher, peers, and the learning process itself. This increased level of investment pays dividends for everyone in the classroom. Some practical examples of learning about and affirming students include:
- Differentiating Instruction around Students’ Identities. Choices about curricular content and instructional strategies carry with them cultural significance and psychological weight. Using students’ identities to design and adjust instruction signals that they are valuable and empowered members of the classroom community.
- Asking for and Acting on Student Feedback. The gap between teacher intention and student perception in is a hugely important part of fostering a sense of classroom belonging. In order to ensure that students actually feel safe and supported, it is important to actually ask them what they think. Both formal and informal feedback mechanisms can yield continuous improvement.
For more detail on these strategies and additional resources to support implementation, check out the strategies in the pages that follow.