Jasmine McQuay,
IDE Corp. Director of Educational Equity

Addressing the quest for equity in the classroom includes creating an inclusive community celebratory of the diversity of its members. Guest blogger Jasmine McQuay shares her insights . . .

How different are you from your students? Do you live in the same neighborhood? Do you speak the same language at home? Do you have the same influences in life? Do you look at life through the same perspective? If you answered no to any of these questions, then you most likely have a different perspective and experience than that of your students.

Still, in spite of the differences, you can begin to create a sense of community within your classroom and/or school. Students spend a majority of their time at school, therefore it is important for them to feel valued, appreciated, and a sense of belonging to that community.  This aspect of school is often overlooked but essential because it can impact students’ level of success. If a school or classroom acknowledges, appreciates, and accepts differences, students can flourish.

Here are some steps can you take to build a sense of community in your classroom:

  1. Begin to study your students. (Ask your students questions; engage students in the process of ongoing feedback about their learning process; and engage in learning about your students beyond the classroom.)
  2. Provide your students with opportunities to reflect and express themselves. (Create an affirmation wall in your classroom.)
  3. Connect your content through a context your students can access. (Telling Our Story problem based learning unit)
  4. Have your students solve problems that permeate their classrooms and communities. (Mirrors, Windows, and Doors problem-based learning unit)
  5. Empower your students to advocate for themselves. (Designing an Equitable Learning Environment through Empowerment)

Use this document to reflect on your current practices and what your next steps can be to ensure that you have a community within your classroom that allows all students to feel valued and appreciated.   

IDE Corp.’s sister company, EdQuiddity Inc offers online professional development in “Designing Equitable Learning Environments” through its Virtual Learning Communities (VLCs). Click here for more information.