Practices to avoid

Though it is best to be proactive and try to use research-based, positive teaching practices, it is also a good idea to frequently examine our teaching beliefs and practices to ensure that we are working to mitigate implicit biases and to avoid unwise or inequitable practices – such as those listed below.

  • Don’t assume diversity, equity, 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. Think carefully about how you want to respond to inflammatory remarks or difficult moments.
  • Don’t repeat or use offensive language, and consider carefully how you frame and discuss course materials that may use or evoke such language.
  • Don’t assume that individual students can or want to 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.
  • Don’t deny the impact of a person’s cultural identity or lived experiences.
  • 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 because of course assignments, classroom set-up, pedagogies, etc., consult with the Disabilities Resources Office about possible options.