Get to know students personally

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Our students are wonderfully diverse in their personalities, perspectives, experiences, and dreams. Getting to know students as individuals enriches the classroom, creating an environment that is more enjoyable and productive for students and instructors alike.

How to create a more welcoming environment

  • Work to use correct pronunciation and pronouns for each student. Often times instructors use wrong pronouns or repeatedly mispronounce names without realizing the impact upon the student. Names and pronouns have personal, cultural, and emotional significance and are part of individuals' identities.
    • Ask each student if they have a preferred name that you should use in class, and work outside of class to learn correct pronunciations. 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.
    • Similarly, learn which pronouns each student uses. Volunteer which pronouns you use.
    • Give students the option to record their pronouns and names in a database that 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. 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.