Get to know students personally

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A key aspect in creating an inclusive classroom is providing opportunities to get to know students on a personal level. By providing accessibility, students become more comfortable in interacting with their instructor, and instructors can begin to understand how they are perceived by their students, as well as how to meet students needs through differentiated instruction.

How to create a welcoming environment

  • A way in which instructors can begin to get to know students individually is by correctly pronouncing students names. Often times instructors will repeatedly pronounce students names incorrectly without realizing the impact upon the student. A name tends to have cultural and emotional significance to an individual, and in order to create an inclusive classroom environment, each student's name should be pronounced correctly.
    • Mispronunciation is most often not intentional. Invite your students to train you after class. Effort, or lack thereof, signals that you care, or don't.
    • Give students the option to record their names into a database which is accessible to instructors. This technology can aid instructors in the pronunciation of students' names while also making students feel more comfortable in the classroom.
    • Ask your students if they have a preferred name that you should use in class. Or, ask your university to allow students to note their preferred name through online directory entries. Preferred name policies accommodate the needs of transgender students and others. [1]
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  • Instructors can encourage students to meet with them during office hours. Office hours provide instructors the opportunity to learn students needs and to make sure underrepresented students are comfortable in the classroom. There are a number of strategies that instructors can use in order to increase the number of students attending office hours.
    • Early in the semester require students to come to office hours once.
    • Have "special topics" office hours to discuss topics of particular interest to you and the students.
    • Check with students to find the most convenient times to have office hours.
    • Clearly explain to students the purpose of office hours.
    • Use office hours as a way to obtain feedback. Discover how comfortable underrepresented students feel in class.