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Breaking Down Barriers: 5 Strategies for Creating an Inclusive and Equitable Classroom



As educators, we share the goal of providing our students with the best possible education for future success. Sadly, not all students have equal opportunities to succeed. We must address these barriers and provide targeted support to create a more inclusive and equitable classroom learning environment.

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Here are 5 key strategies educators can use to create a more inclusive and equitable learning environment: 

1️⃣ Cultivate a culture of respect and inclusivity

In order for all students to feel valued and supported in the classroom, it is important to create a culture that values diversity and promotes respect for all individuals. This can be done through intentional efforts to celebrate diversity, address implicit biases, and create a safe and welcoming classroom environment.

One example of addressing implicit biases in the classroom is through cultural proficiency training for educators. This training can help educators recognize and address their biases and assumptions about students from different cultural backgrounds.  Additionally, educators can engage in ongoing self-reflection and seek out resources and perspectives from diverse sources to continuously challenge their biases and assumptions.

2️⃣ Provide targeted interventions and support

Research has shown that high-impact reading tutoring can significantly positively impact academic performance, particularly for low-income students. In fact, a recent study found that students who received high-impact tutoring in reading made an average gain of two to three months of additional learning time compared to their peers who did not receive tutoring.

Another benefit of high-impact tutoring in reading is that it is cost-effective in the long run. Although some upfront costs are associated with materials and tutor acquisition, the long-term benefits of high-impact tutoring can outweigh these costs. For example, the same study found that the program had a positive return on investment, with a benefit-cost ratio of 3.5 to 1.

3️⃣ Use data to inform instruction

By collecting and analyzing data on student performance, educators can identify areas of need and tailor instruction to meet the specific needs of each student. This can involve using formative data to inform instructional decisions or using data from standardized assessments to identify areas of strength and weakness for individual students.

4️⃣ Address systemic barriers to learning

Many students face systemic barriers to learning that go beyond academic skills. For example, students from low-income families may lack access to basic resources such as food, clothing, and healthcare. In contrast, students with disabilities may face physical and social barriers to participation in the classroom. By addressing these systemic barriers, schools can create a more level playing field for all students.

One example of a school district’s solution to addressing systemic barriers for low-income families is the “Community Eligibility Provision” (CEP) program implemented by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). This program provides free breakfast and lunch to all students, regardless of their income level or family status. By providing free meals to all students, the LAUSD is able to ensure that students from low-income families have access to nutritious meals that support their learning and development.

5️⃣ Foster strong relationships between students and educators

Research has shown positive relationships between students and their teachers can significantly impact student achievement and well-being. By building strong relationships with their students, educators can help create a sense of belonging and support that can be especially valuable for students who may feel marginalized or disconnected from school.

One example of how schools create a sense of belonging for marginalized students is by establishing affinity groups or support networks. These groups provide students with a safe space to connect with peers with similar backgrounds or experiences.

By cultivating a culture of respect and inclusivity, providing targeted interventions and support, using data to inform instruction, addressing systemic barriers to learning, and fostering strong relationships between students and educators, we can create a more equitable and inclusive learning environment for all students.

Read more about how to create successful learning environments:

4 Big Wins for Student Engagement During Small Group Intervention
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