I just wanted to share this sentiment as we head into the the 2015-16 year. We had an intense week talking about tough topics like privilege, power, equity and justice. I leave the week feeling very encouraged that our community is willing to take these conversations on with civility, courage and kindness--and renewed dedication to the success of all our students.
I highly recommend this video. It features the stories of LGBTQ+ students, but they share many ideas about what makes college feel welcoming that could apply to many other groups of students. Ganbatte: take it a step further and discuss the video in your next department meeting.
Some of you have said the following tips have been helpful for the first day or week of class, so I'm sharing them again. Thank you for your willingness to engage in the process of creating a more inclusive SPSCC!
TIPS FOR AN INCLUSIVE FIRST WEEK
1. DAY 1: DON'T CALL ROLL verbally. This creates a lack of safety for trans* and gender-non-conforming students. See this video for more ideas.
2. Day 1: Avoid using gender pronouns.
Since many of our community are unfamiliar with the practice of sharing gender pronouns publicly, please consider avoiding pronouns until you are confident you know a person's gender and focus instead on creating opportunities to allow students that they can communicate their pronouns to you publicly or privately. This might look like a "get to know me" assignment in the first days of class where you ask students basic information like their name and degree plans, and ask what they'd like to be called in class, and "Is there anything else you'd like me to know about you?"
Some of our faculty talk about their strategies here: http://decspscc.weebly.com/lgbtq-students.html
It will obviously take some practice to avoid using gender pronouns, but it's well worth it to help students feel comfortable in your classroom.
While it is our greatest intention to validate each student's experience, visibility is not always safe for trans* students. We seek to increase safety but sadly, we cannot guarantee it. With this in mind we can work to provide safer spaces on campus and in our courses that allow students to engage with their identities at their own pace and according to their own practiced assessment of their peers.
Many thanks to SPSCC's own Talcott Broadhead for these tips.
3. Week 1: Learn your students' names and how to pronounce them correctly.
4. Week 1: Facilitate small group formation for at least several weeks. Studies show that students from underrepresented groups often find themselves left out or excluded from small group work. You can help by structuring small groups--and monitoring large group discussions so certain students don't dominate.
5.. Week 1 and anytime: Stop by the DEC to say hi! It is so powerful for students who use the DEC to see your faces and get to know you outside of class and office hours. Take the time to attend campus events, especially those that raise awareness about diverse identity groups. Students notice and appreciate your support.
6. Every day: Find a way to increase your own cultural competence and model it for your students. Our students had a panel at the beginning of the year to discuss their experiences in class and on campus. How do you think they answered these questions? (If you'd like to hear more about it, contact us!)
7. All quarter: Share campus events and encourage student engagement outside the classroom. Decades of student retention research shows that students engaged in the full campus experience are more successful and more likely to achieve their college goals.
Campus Open House: Wednesday Sept 23 11 am - 1 pm
DEC Open House: Thursday Sept 24 11 am - 1 pm
Diversity Leadership Institute: Spring Quarter Schedule: Wednesdays 3:30-5 pm, DEC
These tips were created over time with the help of students and colleagues. They are hopefully ways to get us thinking about some of the everyday things we do to create more inclusivity on campus. They don't, of course, substitute for in-depth knowledge or professional development on increasing our knowledge about about gender diversity, racism in the classroom, or any other topic that improves our competence with students from underrepresented communities.
If you have any suggestions for the "Tip list" or if something doesn't feel right to you please don't hesitate to send us your feedback! We are always looking for ways to increase our own learning.