Statement on Inclusive Excellence

  • Statement on Inclusive Excellence

    Statement on Inclusive Learning

    I seek to ground my courses in a practice of embodied learning. Each of us is shaped by our experiences and backgrounds, and the differences between us provide alternative interpretations of and responses to the material we cover together. Our diversity may be reflected by differences in race, culture, age, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, and myriad other social identities and life experiences. Each of these differences provide a different valence to the meaning of the texts and symbols we will encounter together in a course. It is through engaging in dialogue across these differences that we begin to truly learn. The goal of inclusiveness, therefore, encourages and appreciates expressions of different ideas, opinions, and beliefs, so that conversations and interactions that could potentially be divisive turn instead into opportunities for intellectual and personal enrichment.

    A dedication to inclusiveness requires respecting what other say, their right to say it, and the thoughtful consideration of others’ communication. Both speaking up and listening are valuable tools for furthering thoughtful, enlightening dialogue. We will deal with difficult questions in every course, and some disagreement, with the texts and with other class members, is nearly unavoidable. Respecting one another’s individual differences is critical in transforming a collection of diverse individuals into an inclusive, collaborative and excellent learning community. When we face disagreement, we will commit to making reasoned arguments based on evidence. This will guide our responses to texts as well as to our fellow class members. We will commit to reading and hearing each other charitably prior to critically engaging with the ideas presented. Our core commitment shapes our core expectation for behavior inside and outside the classroom.

    I spend significant time constructing my courses to accomplish the objectives and outcomes stated in the syllabus. I seek to provide a detailed guideline to how students can successfully complete the course and know what is expected of them. With that in mind, I ensure that students read the syllabus thoroughly (primarily through a simple graded syllabus quiz), and I encourage students to bring any potential hindrances to my attention within the first two class meetings. While I emphasize the structure of the course, I want to ensure that every student has equal access to course material and opportunity for success in the course. When a student comes to me with an issue, I work with them to adapt the syllabus and course objectives to fit their needs while still accomplishing the core course objectives and outcomes.

    In order to address some of these issues at the outset, I try to choose reading materials that are either low-cost or accessible for free from the school library. This includes the extensive use of PDF files accessible for free, and use of multiple editions of texts (which can often be found cheaper than the newest editions). I will also try to select texts that will prove beneficial to students over multiple courses in the program. Collections of works (for instance, Plato’s Basic Works) can be pricey, but they include multiple works from the author, and can therefore be used in multiple courses across the catalogue. Some expenses are unavoidable, but I try to minimize those issues whenever possible.

    To the best of my ability, I try to construct classes according to the principles of Universal Design, which emphasizes providing avenues for learning and access to the greatest number of student differences at the outset. This includes considerations of socio-economic issues and the use of PDFs, but also involves particular issues like color schemes of presentations (as a means to helping students with dyslexia or color-blindness), or deaf students through the consistent use of captioning. My goal is to provide for as many of these differences as possible when I construct my courses and content. I also provide opportunities in the first week or so for students to bring other issues to my attention. Within reason, I am willing to accommodate students and their learning needs. The learning goals of the course are of the utmost importance to me; I will do everything I can to remove obstacles to those learning goals.

This portfolio last updated: 21-Apr-2020 12:47 PM