Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Editorial Team
Think back to the last class you attended. Did your takeaways from the class only include points about the lesson being taught by the teacher? Or did it also include perspectives and opinions based on the experiences shared by your classmates?
Learning, like every other thing in the world, does not happen in isolation. Students don’t only come together to listen to what the teacher has to say. Instead, a class is a collaborative space where everyone comes with an open mind and an intention of learning something new, including the teacher.
But, for learning to happen, it is first important that the class is accessible and safe for all. When everyone feels comfortable coming to and participating in the class, the lessons that come from there can truly be called inclusive and invaluable. Furthermore, being comfortable is one of the key characteristics of inclusive classrooms.
Hence, in this post, we will dig deeper and understand the various examples of inclusive classrooms.
Examples of how an inclusive classroom looks like
Making a class inclusive and accepting of all is not an easy feat. But it is certainly possible and worth all the effort. Some examples of efforts in the direction of inclusivity include:
1. Providing safe spaces
Classrooms that give students spaces to openly talk about and discuss their lives, cultures, families, individual struggles, and differences without any judgment from fellow students or educators help in making learning an inclusive experience.
Here every student doesn’t only feel heard but also like they belong, which increases their engagement with the class. This also helps students identify with each other and find support for struggles that might be common to a few or all.
2. Use of inclusive language
From asking pronouns instead of assuming to using de-stigmatizing language around sensitive topics like race, culture, learning differences, etc. teachers here need to take an active stance. The goal is to not only use the inclusive language themselves but to teach their students to do the same. Words carry a lot of power and if used effectively, can mean the difference between a welcoming classroom and a hostile one.
3. Respecting and learning from differences
When students learn to not only accept and understand the differences among them but also see the learning potential in those differences, the classroom becomes a much more inclusive space. When every student, no matter how different, feel free to share their opinions and perspectives without the fear of judgment and is actively listened to by their peers, this creates an opportunity for growth for everyone where they not only get to see a different side of things but learn how to respectfully communicate when they disagree.
4. Open to suggestions
The educator can follow all the guidelines, and keep up with all the latest studies and suggestions, still, nothing can replace the lived experiences and realities of the students. While it is a good practice to try to make the classroom as inclusive as possible based on whatever information the educator can gather, the most important source of information is the students themselves. Hence, educator needs to be open to anonymous feedback on how they can continue improving and make the learning environment more beneficial for everyone.
5. Mistakes happen
Another thing to remember on the road to inclusivity is that nobody is perfect. While it is important that the individual try their best to make the classroom environment as open, accepting, and inclusive as possible, it is also vital to remember that the individual might slip up from time to time.
No matter if it is a student or a teacher, the key thing to do in these cases is take accountability for one’s actions and the harm they might have caused, apologize and make amends to the individual or group that was hurt, and learn from this experience to do better next time.
6. Unlearning and relearning
A classroom open to diverse identities and opinions is bound to lead to discussions. These discussions can be crucial learning opportunities where students get to hear from other students who might belong to groups like those with learning differences or those who identify as non-binary, etc.
Listening to their experiences firsthand and engaging with them as peers can prove to be instrumental in the unlearning and eradication of various stereotypes that the individual might, knowingly or unknowingly, have about certain groups.
7. Making accountability captains
When an individual is directly told they are wrong about something, chances are this confrontational conversation can lead to a lot of heightened emotions. Individuals, in this case, might become less likely to realize their mistake and apologize and more likely to become defensive.
A useful technique in the classroom could be, instead of pointing out what different students might be doing wrong, making every student the accountability captain where they keep an eye out to ensure no one says or does anything hurtful. This way, they don’t get defensive but instead, learn how to do better themselves and also help their peers in doing the same.
8. Multimodal and multisensory approaches to teaching
Not every student perceives the world and retains information from their environment in the same way. Since our experience of the world varies, the way we are taught about it should also take a variable and multimodal approach, inculcating techniques and activities that allow for the absorption of information through different senses.
For individuals with learning differences, a multisensory approach in the classroom has especially been found to increase the effectiveness of the lesson.
9. Peer teaching and learning
When students talk and learn from each other, they don’t just end up learning the lesson but also various social skills as well as things about the other person. This diversifies the student’s outlook on life as they learn new things from each of their peers. Additionally, students end up making friends with people they might not have otherwise interacted with. Friends are helpful in various ways, always being there to just have fun and play with as well in times of need to support each other.
10. Making accommodations
To make education truly inclusive, it is essential that the classroom and the lessons being taught inside are accessible to all. For individuals with learning concerns, accommodations can look like giving extra time to make notes and finish writing exams, providing peer mentors, extra support, and even special education in the form of Individualized lesson plans as and when required.
Research & Study claims
In a 2020 study, 119 professors who were nominated as being inclusive by various students with disabilities were interviewed. Among several other things, a common theme among all these professors and their approach to teaching was their willingness to learn from their students. They found that when they made the required accommodations and created conditions that facilitated effective learning for all, all of their students were able to benefit from their lessons. This in turn contributed to their feelings of success and satisfaction from their work and profession.
Another 2013 study posited a model of inclusive education that did not just include students with learning differences, but also students from different races, gender, and sexual orientation. It asserted that inclusivity in all areas of marginalization can make education a truly beneficial endeavor for everyone, including those belonging to majority groups.
Bell Hooks’ engaged pedagogy was implemented in a Ph.D. program in 2011 to make the program more diverse and inclusive. The findings from this endeavor revealed that students engaged in more critical conversations regarding race, sex, and other inequalities, took active steps to transform perspectives to make them more diverse, and ended up choosing topics to study that were more consistent with their values.
Inclusivity is an essential component of any and every space in the modern world. Active steps need to be taken to make education, a basic human right, more inclusive and accessible for all.
Some examples of what inclusivity in the classroom can look like include providing a safe space, using inclusive language, respecting and learning from differences, being open to suggestions, apologizing, making amends and learning from mistakes, adopting a multisensory approach to teaching, etc.
Inclusivity, as a value within the classroom, has been found to increase educational benefits as well as enrich the learning experiences of both students and teachers alike. Furthermore, a few strategies can also be beneficial for the students.
- Moriña, A., Sandoval, M., & Carnerero, F. (2020). Higher education inclusivity: When the disability enriches the university. Higher Education Research & Development, 39(6), 1202-1216.
- DeLuca, C. (2013). Toward an Interdisciplinary Framework for Educational Inclusivity. Canadian Journal of Education, 36(1), 305-347.
- Danowitz, M. A., & Tuitt, F. (2011). Enacting inclusivity through engaged pedagogy: A higher education perspective. Equity & Excellence in Education, 44(1), 40-56.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,