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Professional development for teachers: Diversity & inclusion

Every teacher should be thinking about the role diversity and inclusion plays in the classroom. Here are 7 ways to facilitate professional development.

4 min read


Professional development for teachers: Diversity & inclusion

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In 2019, more than half of the students enrolled in a K-12 institution were students of color. As the US becomes more diverse, the need for culturally responsive teachers is critical for schools to provide an equitable educational experience. Simply teaching tolerance is insufficient. Insead, institutions should make commitments to diversity and make a concerted effort to incorporate inclusive teaching strategies.

A single workshop will not provide an instant solution. Instead, ongoing training that provides awareness and insight is the ideal investment in a teaching team. Creating an inclusive culture that champions inclusive teaching and learning will not only benefit educators, but students as well.

Here are just a few tips and ideas to jump-start a professional development plan for teachers on diversity and inclusion.



Passive Education

The power of passive education should never be underestimated. A subtle message can make a transformative difference. Educators can create a poster series that provides tidbits of learning about diversity and equity.

A poster hung in the teacher’s lounge or by the mailboxes can offer instant education, reminders and professional development. Possible topics include:

  • Confronting bias
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Race and ethnicity terms
  • Teaching culturally diverse students
  • Cognitive bias
  • Identity stripping

Teachers can become a part of the project by contributing a poster each week to the daily passive education library.

Email Enlightenment

A daily email that explores diversity and inclusion is an effective way to provide ongoing professional development for teachers. It’s easy to create a digital diversity digest that offers books, articles, video links and demographic data related to equity and best practices.

Teachers can contribute to this professional development effort by identifying topics that would be most meaningful and helpful in an educational setting.



Memorable Moments

An online posting board is an effective way to allow teachers to share how they have practiced equity and inclusion in the classroom environment. A “Tips for Teachers” site will allow colleagues to contribute best practice ideas that have made an impact in the learning environment.

An anonymous site fosters teamwork instead of competition. Positive reinforcement by administration is an effective way to recognize individual contributions. Be sure to highlight any educators who go above and beyond to celebrate diversity.

Quick Quizzes

A quick quiz about diversity issues at the beginning of the day can provide insight into equity and inclusion. Teachers can check the answers at the end of the day to learn more about content areas. Possible topics include:

  • Stereotypes
  • Microaggressions
  • Bias incidents versus hate crimes
  • Inclusive classroom practices
  • Intersectionality
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Social justice

Case Studies

Similarly, case studies are a great way to stimulate conversation. A case study can be presented and teachers can post their thoughts on an internal forum. A summary of the results sent by email can provide an overview of thoughts and ideas. Teachers can dive more deeply into the topic during a weekly staff meeting.

For example, a case study might discuss a bias incident that could happen in a school environment. Discussion questions could include:

  1. Is this a bias incident or a hate crime?
  2. What factors contributed to your answer?
  3. How would you respond?



Rewards and Recognition

It’s important to recognize individuals who are serving as Diversity Champions. Offering a weekly award that acknowledges a staff member who is going the extra mile for equity and inclusion will serve as a model for others to follow.

Students and staff can nominate someone who has made a difference for others, which helps to elevate equity as a valued priority. Additionally, fun initiatives like these serve to improve employee engagement and the overall employee experience.

Craft a Plan

A daily diversity development plan is a transformative approach to prioritizing and normalizing equity and inclusion into the educational environment. Teachers can even serve on a diversity education team to help execute the plan. By mapping these plans out in advance, schools can organize corresponding events, speakers and professional development opportunities for additional learning.

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