Reflect on power and privilege in the classroom

What? Power and privilege are inequitably distributed within education institutions, resulting in vastly different student experiences and outcomes. Our system fundamentally privileges Whiteness, first and foremost, along with other dominant identities (i.e., English-speaking, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied, neurotypical, etc.). Individuals with these identities hold disproportionately high levels of power in distributing education resources, developing policies, determining…

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Disrupt deficit-based narratives in the curriculum

What? A dominant narrative is “an explanation or story that is told in service of the dominant social group’s interests and ideologies” (Inclusive Teaching). A well-known American example is the “bootstraps” narrative — the idea that anyone who is willing to work hard, live by strong values, and take personal responsibility for themselves has an…

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Reflect on ways to promote engagement over compliance

What? Cognitive lift — or cognitive demand —  refers to the amount of mental effort, focus, engagement, and higher-order thinking required by a certain task. A daily commute to a familiar place, for example, does not require much mental energy and can typically be accomplished successfully with a driver’s brain on “autopilot”. However, traveling to…

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Cultivate individual relationships

What? Students of all ages and backgrounds benefit from caring relationships with adults at school. Strong relationships provide a foundation for student engagement, belonging, academic confidence, and learning. Even in challenging times, trusting relationships keep students connected to school, invested in learning, and able to persist through both personal and academic struggles. According to the…

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Develop academic mindsets

What? An academic mindset is a key part of student agency and learning readiness, impacting motivation, engagement, and perseverance. As detailed in research from The University of Chicago Consortium, the four beliefs of an academic mindset are: I belong in this academic community My ability and competence grow with my effort (growth mindset) I can…

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Strengthen critical thinking skills

What? Good teaching and learning goes beyond the acquisition of facts and knowledge to support critical thinking. Within our “information age”, strong critical thinking skills increase the range of work students are capable of tackling and help support self-actualization. Research by the Project Zero team at Harvard University identified three key components for developing strong critical thinkers:…

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Nurture a culture of trust and belonging

What? Educators nurture a culture of trust and belonging in a classroom by building caring connections with students and facilitating connections between peers. Students who feel a sense of acceptance, respect, and support in a learning environment are more likely to feel like they belong. These positive feelings are connected with higher levels of engagement,…

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Leverage student identities to make learning meaningful

What? A student’s “funds of knowledge” are a compilation of accumulated life experiences, academic and personal background knowledge, ways of navigating everyday social contexts, and world views influenced by broader historical and political contexts (Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction). The premise behind this practice is that most school-based practices, curricula, and behaviors are…

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Encourage students to talk about themselves as learners

What? The most effective way to elevate student achievement is by empowering students to take ownership of their learning (Crowe & Kennedy, 2018). But what does that really mean? Ownership combines activities that support motivation, engagement, and self-directed learning — such as when students define a “why” for their learning, monitor their own progress, understand…

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Use feedback and reflection processes to drive learning

What? The purpose of feedback is to improve student performance by supporting students to own their progress toward mastery. Effective feedback is timely, specific, and personalized to encourage students with varying levels of skills and confidence. Strong feedback processes provide students with access to their performance-based data to help them understand where they stand, and…

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