Saturday, 27 May 2017

#ELTchat summary for May 24th 2017 Dealing with Diversity, Inclusivity and Social Justice in the classroom

This was the topic on Wednesday

ELTChat from 24th May 2017

Our topic for tonight's #ELTchat "How do we deal with diversity, inclusivity and social justice in our classrooms
 @eilymurphy
Timely post before this evening's #ELTchat Kyle @kyletdugan
When feedback puts a lump in your throat: that's *English class* they're talking about. dynamiteelt.wordpress.com/2017/05/24/asy…
Let's embrace diversity...youtube.com/watch?v=MN1Dft… Have you ever used Glee to strike up a conversation with your students?
@SueAnnan

Replying to 
No. What do you do with it?
We watch the video and we try to identify what each person is afraid of. Then, students are encouraged to share their own fears. It's a great way to create an inclusive environment. The teacher must be the first to express his fears. Students will follow!
@SueAnnan

My students are adults. They find it hard to discuss family issues- especially if they are LGBTQ. Yet it seems such an innocuous topic.
How do you handle it?
 @Clare2ELT

Where are you based again? Is it a cultural taboo?

@SueAnnan

No. I am in the Channel islands. Not a real taboo here, although we find some homophobes in class from time to time. I just think that there are more and more topics which are becoming parsnips- and no material to help deal with them.
 @seburnt

I firmly believe in the organic integration of topics like this, rather than the othering of them as a special thing to discuss
@SueAnnan

I agree. But at the moment I negotiate, they start telling me about their family etc. This is awkward for some of my students
@Clare2ELT

OK. But maybe from Ss home culture? Or do they not want to talk about family at all, also not kids, etc? Some students believe it doesn't belong..
But the material would need to be quite specifically targetted to group of Ss and sensitivities?
@SueAnnan

perhaps. But maybe the material should be more cognisant of the differences in today's society
@Clare2ELT

Yes, so more diversity & inclusion in general materials probably best, as @seburnt said not make it a 'special' discussion topic.
 @Marisa_C

Quick hi to mention the Disable Access Friendly website & initiative disabled-accessfriendly.com - lots of lesson plans & material
@seburnt

In these situations, being cognisant of font size, e.g., test-taking accommodations, and mental challenges needed.
@SueAnnan

Great. This might help with my partially-sighted student.
@Marisa_C

@naomishema has written a lot on her blog abt this

@SueAnnan

I want to have an inclusive environment, always. How do you deal with the aggressive students? We had problems with/ for a poor Saudi after Manchester.
@Marisa_C

There are a lot of You Tube videos of real people to bring to class who have been hurt after such events
@naomishema

Hi! Sorry I'm late!
@Marisa_C

Is the school itself an equal opportunities space? How is staff selected?
@SueAnnan

In theory- but... We have no teachers with issues other than being NNEST. And that isn't a problem
@seburnt

This one is easier perhaps in a city like Toronto with much diversity of Ts and backgrounds. Perhaps not so easy elsewhere? #eltchat
We struggle here a bit. Teachers are not trained counsellors and reference to available professional resources is a must.
@Marisa_C

@seburnt You touched upon a very important issue - ESL/EFL teachers are not trained to deal with such issues - we need more counselling skills
@Clare2ELT

I think city/environment and teachers can be separate issues. City here is fairly conservative, some students complained that their teacher is "too gay" !!!
Students also need to know they can talk to Teachers about their needs. Where I work, they often think they have to struggle on alone!
It's very difficult to approach both adults and teenagers on the issue! But, we need to shun the us-vs-them mindset.
@Clare2ELT

Yes, teachers need to be (made) aware, also of rules & resources as institution, to help students find support. Depending on size of institution, there may also be a centre/office to provide help or at least, information.
@SueAnnan

But there is little around- material-wise. Even our general schools are better equipped to deal with issues arising in class. Where could we find training?
@seburnt

Are there no community organisations where specific needs can be referred to for extra help?
@Marisa_C
I think we can read and learn from gen education texts and websites - perhaps online courses exist need to check
@naomishema

This is a great example of how important an online PLN is Schools always busy with academic aspects ignore these, Ts left alone
@SueAnnan

My students don't stay for more than 3-4 weeks each, but they need to feel welcomed. Today's books just don't cut the mustard
@eilymurphy

Perhaps more about framing questions, Ss supply content, like @lclandfield @LukeMeddings did with "52 subversive ideas" bit.ly/2riqUZY
In my area, any material that refers to sexual orientation can get you fired! LGBT issues are prohibited in my area, not by the government, but by the locals!
Every other European country runs a course on sexual orientation, Greece has fallen way behind! In Athens, things are way better! But in my conservative area, controversial issues can get you fired!
@Clare2ELT

What would be consequences for you as teacher if you open discussion ?

A discussion on LGBT would probably get me suspended! A discussion on racial segregation is acceptable, though! People prefer to ignore the pink elephant! Better beat around the bush than face the facts!
@seburnt

Wow, that sucks. I don't think I could stand working there. I guess that's another discussion.
@Clare2ELT

Wow! Even if the law is less conservative!? No wonder students don't discuss LGBT issues, then! But change has to start somewhere!
@Marisa_C

As always, I will mention my favourite book "Classroom Dynamics" by Jill Hadfield, which has a lot of group cohesion activities
@Marisa_C

Sharing some nice finds - activities promoting social inclusivity humanresources.ext.wvu.edu/r/download/130…
Some social inclusion icebreakers here inclusiveschools.org/social-inclusi…
A whole training kit salto-youth.net/rc/inclusion/a…
Free Autism Educational Tools - For Awareness and Inclusion - has some apps for stories on this geekclubbooks.com/autism-story-a…
Yeap! A course full of diversity problem scenarios
This is a quite informative website ctl.yale.edu/teaching/ideas… with some diversity problem scenarios and possible solutions!
@Clare2ELT

Quick search on Futurelearn finds this: futurelearn.com/courses/inclus…
Marisa and I did the Dyslexia one last year :-)
@TEFLness

I agree Books for international markets try to avoid anything 'controversial' But sensitive issues do come up in real communication
Their secret ID is "PARSNIPS" and publishing houses ensure that coursebooks adhere to them!
@Marisa_C

so true!
@seburnt

Yes, I've written chapters on this with activities to address them, myself. My chapter on RACE is in this volume. smashwords.com/books/view/669… There are three volumes, all free, to varying degrees of quality, imho
@SueAnnan

Are we just more open now, or what has changed?
I guess, globalisation has affected us all! We are way more lenient and open-minded when it comes to controversial issues!
@seburnt

That's true before any change. But someone has to start the change. Our learners deserve it.
@Clare2ELT

For me, 2 separate issues: being aware of & catering to diversity & needs ourselves, and creating space for tolerance & discussion. But I mean prompting discussions on it among students
@seburnt

It's hard (and possibly wrong) to talk about an issue without representation of that group in the discussion.
@Clare2ELT

True, but in @TheodoreLalos case, I wouldn't want to be THAT ONE in the group if attitudes are so hostile! But teachers could support..?
@SueAnnan

I think tolerance should be an integral part of the EFL teacher's toolkit anyway
@Marisa_C

@angelos_bollas who is flying back from the UK as we speak did a great talk at IATEFL on LGBT. I recorded it but can't find it now - will soon though. We could consider a webinar on it for a future event.
@naomishema

My classroom is extremely more diverse than the society outside, because it's special ED. But we have an advantage that the kids spend 3 years together.
@SueAnnan

How about working with refugees? How do you manage the issue of social inclusion?
@Clare2ELT

No experience of this I'm afraid. But in an English-speaking context, learning the language is one step towards inclusion, maybe?
@Marisa_C

We have a lot of practice there - all our classes include refugees - no problems there. Lots of games and icebreakers
All the acitivites we find on gen info websites are mostly great for reading or discussion in ELT - TED talks also
 @MatthewEllman

Hello all! Too late to join?
@naomishema

The classroom should be a safe bubble 4 every student. The question should also be- What is purpose of intentionally bringing up divisive topics? Safe bubble as in when students share and no disrespectful slurs are accepted. Safe as in me bringing topics that highlight what we all share.
A safe environment can also be the one in which the adversities of real life are encountered and dealt with sincere interest.
@naomishema

Yeah, you are braver than me. I just try to keep the peace..  I agree but it's hard. Kudos to those who can. It's better but it takes braver teachers than myself.
Definitely! I'm not suggesting that learners should face the adversities of life nor that they have to feel discomfort! :) Learners have to cope with some unpleasant situations! We can just make it easier!
@MatthewEllman

My take would be that we should at least give students the option of dealing with 'diff. equations', instead of omitting them in advance
@seburnt

Yeah, depends on target and context I think. Struggles need language too
@MatthewEllman

But is it then for teachers to avoid certain topics, or for students to speak out when they are uncomfortable?
@Clare2ELT

good Q in theory, but must be hard in practice for Ts working in such environments!
I think they would need to feel safe first, before speaking out

@MatthewEllman

Not feeling safe in the classroom and feeling uncomfortable with certain topics are different things though. Teachers are definitely responsible for avoiding the former, the latter I think students need to take some responsibility for.
@tesolmatthew

I think this is a hugely important point. I'd say the classroom is THE place to feel 'safely uncomfortable'!
@SueAnnan

I don't think bringing the topics up as if they were taboo is a good idea. Students should feel relaxed enough to give their reality
I guess, you just have to encourage self-affirmation. They are not different or less capable. We're all humans!
@naomishema

My daily experience avoid in planning & point out how everyone is special & study together & share so much when needed. Conflict not here! My classroom includes sectors not usually mixed, secular Jews & religious, Christians, Moslems, Immigrants from all over... We do a lot of celebrating things students do, academic or just being a good friend. if tension arises it’s a helpful reminder to diffuse. I treat my students the way I'd like to be treated. Life can be cruel and people can get mean. Students need to know how to defend themselves.
@SueAnnan

Worth talking about similarities rather than differences
@MatthewEllman

When does avoiding certain topics become censorship? Is that the teacher's role? The rest I fully agree with!
@naomishema

Is it censorship if I don't plan them as part of a lesson, & only relate to them if they come up? Life is hard enough outside. Why should the 4 hours a week in my class be just like life? We can imagine other lives in lessons!
·         What happens if they decide not to discuss the hot matters?

@naomishema

·         Exclusion and racism is something we teach, but in my class we us cCOMMON example of their hearing loss 2 expand on it.
@seburnt

I think that depends on intention rather than practicality
@MatthewEllman

I think so. Teaching Middle Eastern students I was advised to avoid any depictions/mentions of LGBT+ people, for example. I guess my concern is for when the classroom becomes over-sanitised, for fear of offending someone
@seburnt

I was told that too in Seoul, but eventually I came out to all my students. All fine. No real consequences, but respect.
@eilymurphy

Hmmm. does the T or school get to decide what could be divisive? If so how can classroom be fully safe/inclusive. Teachers might be only way voice of silent "other" gets heard
@MatthewEllman

The people in the classroom could decide which topics are acceptable and which aren't?
Dreikurs substantiates that overprotective parents/community leads only to a self-defeating behaviour and boiling anger!
@seburnt

Bottom line: we can't assume none of our learners aren't in ONE of the marginalised groups. We shouldn't frame groups as others. Now I just don't make it a thing at all, but in that, I now struggle with whether I model inclusivity and normalisation enough.
We can mitigate the effects of stereotype threat through role-models. I usually use this video. youtube.com/watch?v=lX1zII… Then, I get them to think what their ideal classroom setting feels / sounds like. After that, they can stand up and say: I have a dream... Play motivational music to help them unravel their thoughts :)
@CairisAnnan

I guess the only thing I'd contribute is that deliberately avoiding problematic concepts/topics stifles conversation and DOESN'T make a safe
place for students because it reinforces the "norm"; white western heteronormative families. If we don't broach difficult topics, people may never learn about people different from themselves and become more accepting. If we only use books/materials abt traditional families in class, people who differ from the norm will not feel safe, but excluded
@naomishema

I think, though, there may be a difference between what teens need & what adults want to discuss?
@SueAnnan

Possibly. Adults are certainly cagier about things
@Marisa_C

Teachers of YLs also need help and especially playful activities or stories which promote ideas we are discussing. I encourage EFL teachers to connect with mainstream teachers to learn more games & activities on the subject for YLs.  friendshipcircle.org/blog/

We also need learners that their mindset is ready to accommodate such topics :)
@Marisa_C

Here's loads of stuff - need sifting obviously - found on pinterest gr.pinterest.com/explore/inclus…
@SueAnnan

Cairis thinks that young people are more accepting, so we need to change the mindsets of the bosses in schools
Totally agree on that! Any thoughts on how to achieve that?
@SueAnnan

Comes back to training- the high-ups need diversity training first
Nighty night #ELTchat community! A great video to end the session. youtube.com/watch?v=C-uyB5…

@SueAnnan

youtu.be/UcuS5glhNto Here is another interesting video
 @tesolmatthew

I haven't watched JJ Wilson's @iatefl @iateflonline #iatefl17 plenary on this topic yet (anybody?) but this reminds me I want to:)

@seburnt

I don't think it's our jobs to be counsellors, actually,beyond reason. There are trained professionals out there.
We have, however, taken SAFEtalk training, which helps teachers to identify + start discussion of mental health issues with students, but not counsel.
@ElleninEdmonton

Not only that, but students really need their teachers to TEACH so it's best not to burn out trying to be everything to everybody!
@FBieri
I agree with @seburnt again here. I'm a teacher and a bridge to a counsellor. I understand what counsellors do, and I can't do "it"

@Marisa_C

Oh absolutely! Agree! But counselling skills come in very handy

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