Practices to avoid

While it’s best to be pro-active and try to use research-based and positive practices, it can be a good idea to check that you’re not doing any unwise practices as well – such as those listed below.

  • Don’t assume diversity and inclusion are only issues that faculty in some disciplines need to be concerned about. They matter in all fields.
  • Don’t ignore it if a student makes a comment that insults or hurts another student or a whole group of people. Don’t use offensive language. Instead think carefully about how you want to respond to inflammatory remarks.
  • Don’t assume that individual students with any noticeable ethnic/racial minority identity want to (or even can) speak for a whole identity group.
  • Don’t make assumptions about any type of student – such as X are going to need extra help or Y are going to excel.
  • Don’t make jokes about groups of people. Don’t laugh or be silent when other people do.
  • Avoid favoritism or openly and consistently calling on a particular student, or students who share a similar identity. Don’t, for example, call on men more than women or vice versa. Don’t ignore or avoid particular people. (If you’re not sure if your in-class interactions and responses to students are even-handed, you can ask a trusted colleague or someone from CATL to observe your class.)
  • Don’t assume everyone in class __________________ (fill in the blank). Some incorrect assumptions might be that all students own their own laptop or car, have parents who went to college, are Christian or have any religious type of faith, are heterosexual, subscribe to a particular political ideology, will marry, want to have children, etc.
  • Don’t assume everybody understands the same cultural references (yours) to television shows, music, etc.
  • Don’t interrupt students. You may think you’re simply responding to a particular idea, but that may be interpreted differently by the person who has expressed that idea. The other students may also perceive you as dismissing that person.
  • Don’t appear annoyed that you’re forced to make accommodations for students with disabilities.
  • Don’t assume that students who don’t own the books are slackers. They might not have much money and be waiting to see if they really need to purchase them.
  • Don’t make anonymous snide remarks about any individual student’s work. Students will assume you are talking about them even if you do not say their name and this can affect their feelings of belonging and negatively impact their confidence asking for help if they are struggling with the material.
  • Don’t assume that a student who is not performing well is lazy or doesn’t care. It’s wiser to try to find out the reason.
  • Don’t lower standards for any individual student. If you believe a student with a disability is severely disadvantaged, consult with the Disabilities Resources Office about possible options.
  • Don’t deny the impact of a person’s cultural identity.