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Self-reflection is critical to creating an inclusive learning environment, particularly for faculty who possess dominant social identities. Faculty members should become aware of how their own ideas, assumptions and identities shape their learning environments and the ways they teach. Engaging in the process of self-reflection provides instructors  with a better understanding of how they view students and how students perceive them as instructors. It also allows instructors to better understand power dynamics in the classroom and the ways these dynamics impact learning. Once instructors have this understanding, then they can begin to take more intentional and meaningful action around inclusive and equitable teaching.

Because of the time required and vulnerability involved, you may be tempted to skip this step. However, it will be difficult to maximize equitable teaching practices without this step. This is an ongoing process, but you can begin by asking a few general questions:

  • What identities are most salient for me?
  • How have my identities influenced the various resources I am able to access?
  • How does my own background inform what I teach?
  • What assumptions are embedded within my discipline that shape what and how I teach?
  • How do my identities shape the way I interact with students and how they interact with me?
  • What assumptions do I make about students as they enter the classroom?

You should come back to these questions periodically as your responses may change over time.12/18/2017 - Medford/Somerville, Mass. - Kensey Olsen, A18, works through a physics problem on the chalkboard to prepare for her final exam, in the Collaborative Learning and Innovation Complex on Dec. 18, 2017. (Anna Miller/Tufts University)

Important note

These questions may be difficult to process. They may elicit uncomfortable realizations, and for some, ask us to recognize various privileges. For those who possess more dominant identities, continue to push through this discomfort in your work. It is important to not let this be an impediment for doing the work of creating an equitable and just learning environment.

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