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Avoid sensitive topics that are not relevant to the course content to avoid unnecessarily making students uncomfortable.

Action:

  • Avoid demeaning jokes about sex, violence or any protected identity characteristics
  • If a sensitive topic is not listed on the syllabus consider warning students before bringing up that content.

Reason:

  • It is a good idea to bring levity and laughter to the classroom, but be sensitive to whether a joke is irrelevant or demeaning and thus will have a negative and differential impact on some students.

Explain metaphors or cultural references that you use in class to ensure that students understand how it relates to the course content.

Action:

  • When you use a metaphor or cultural reference to illustrate an idea, first tell students the relevant background information they need to understand your point.
  • Frequently remind students to ask questions if there is anything they don’t understand because it may be difficult to recognize cultural knowledge that is not universal.
  • Avoid relying exclusively on examples and metaphors from your culture or interests.

Reason:

  • Cultural references within class may be alienating or incomprehensible to students for whom these cultural references are unfamiliar or primarily associated with identities other than their own.

Tell students your “personal gender pronouns” (PGP) and have them share theirs to enable class participants to show respect and avoid embarrassment or humiliation.

Action:

  • Tell students how you would like them to refer to you and your personal gender pronoun.
  • If students introduce themselves in class, encourage them to also share their personal gender pronouns (PGPs) (e.g., she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/their, ze/zir/zir).

Reason:

  • Having students share their personal gender pronouns in class can reduce the chances that someone refers to another person in class with the incorrect gender pronoun thereby embarrassing or humiliating them.

Avoid reinforcing even seemingly positive stereotypes to avoid creating inappropriate pressures and expectations.

Action:

  • Do not condone the application of stereotypes.
  • Teach students that confirmation bias (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias) can reinforce their belief in a stereotype, even when the stereotype is not true.
  • Encourage students to recognize that every group of people includes variation.

Reason:

  • Some stereotypes, such as “Asians are good at math” are positive statements about a group and may appear unproblematic. However, such statements are relational; saying that Asian people are good at math implies that another group is less good at math. Moreover, it creates inappropriate pressures for all Asians (or whatever group is being positively stereotyped) to behave in some expected way.

Practice saying students names to ensure that you correctly pronounce all students names.

Action:

  • Ask students how to pronounce their name either in-person or in a survey. The name they want to be called may be different than their name listed in the course roster.
  • Dedicate additional effort (e.g., make your own pronunciation guide) to ensure you can pronounce names that are unfamiliar to you.
  • Avoid complimenting or commenting on a student’s name. Your opinions about their name are irrelevant and your attention about their name may make them feel singled out or different than their classmates.

Reason:

  • Using students’ names and pronouncing them correctly is a great way to show respect.
  • Memorizing the names and faces of your minority students is particularly important to avoid accidentally confusing two students of the same race.