How can educators promote equity in learning upon return to in-person and hybrid instruction?
As K-12 districts reopen for learning in the newly-defined classroom, plans for students’ mental health are a major concern, presenting a need for strategic planning. This is the time to promote equitable practices for all marginalized students, including, but not limited to students of color, young women, LGBTQ+, disabled students, and the economically or geographically disadvantaged. Students need to be encouraged to voice their concerns and needs and we need to create safe spaces in which that can happen.
Educators can build upon common equitable practices in all learning situations by embracing these strategies:
- Promote sensitive and kind classroom attitudes and behavior.
Address any issues with the entire class and offer an opportunity for students to model empathy for others.
- Include more flexibility with grading protocols and general academic assessment plans.
Offer multiple assessment measures, especially for newly engaged students who are returning to in-person schooling from an extended absence. Some of our marginalized students, in particular, have not even fully participated in school during the pandemic year; thus, re-developing academic practices will need to be reinforced gradually.
- Develop a clear vision for equity and inclusion as a classroom and school community.
Communicating this to the entire school community, including students, school staff, and caregivers, ensures accountability and ownership for all members.
- Work with caregivers to re-engage with the school community with new opportunities, norms, and protocols.
By embracing empathy-first practices, we welcome families back into the school community with understanding and patience.
Since all learners are returning to school with a unique story to tell, we must prioritize mental and emotional safety in our spaces. Making sure we are best prepared to support our marginalized community members is critical as we ask students, caregivers, and families to trust that their everyone is safe, open to learning, and capable of success.