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5 Ways to Foster Inclusivity on Campus

One of the most important goals for any campus is to create a learning environment that is welcoming, inclusive, and supportive of all students, regardless of their background, race, ethnicity, or abilities. 

Fostering inclusivity in schools can help students feel valued, respected, and supported, leading to better academic outcomes and a more positive school culture. If you’re ready to make your school a better environment, here are five ways to foster inclusivity on campus.

1. Promote Diversity and Cultural Competence

Instead of trying to tone everyone down, celebrate the diversity of students and staff, including their backgrounds, languages, cultures, and experiences. 

Schools can host cultural events, invite guest speakers from different communities, and create opportunities for students to learn about other cultures in a small group setting.

Provide professional development opportunities for staff to increase their cultural competency and awareness. Teachers can integrate multicultural education into their lesson plans. Utilize tools such as Human Rights Educators USA to explore various lesson plans on diversity. As you seek to educate your campus, ensure that materials and resources reflect the diversity of the student body and surrounding community.

2. Create a Safe and Inclusive Environment

Every single child deserves to learn in a safe place. Implement policies and procedures that prohibit discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or ability. 

Schools should provide resources and support for students who have experienced discrimination or harassment and ensure all students feel safe and welcome. In addition to support, schools can create student-led groups that promote inclusivity and acceptance, such as peer mentoring programs, diversity clubs, and student councils. These groups can provide a platform for students to discuss and address issues related to inclusivity and diversity and work to create a more welcoming school community.

3. Encourage Family and Community Involvement

Schools should be a support system for the home—not the other way around. So you can’t have a successfully inclusive environment without getting families involved. Try building strong partnerships through cultural events. Schools can reach out to families and community members to create opportunities for engagement; this might look like a cultural arts night and community events that celebrate diversity and promote inclusivity. 

Work with community organizations and local businesses to provide resources and support for students and families at school events. Similarly, many cities and community organizations hold and promote cultural events; encourage your students to volunteer at these events allowing them to support their local community and learn more about a group different than themselves.

4. Provide Accessible and Equitable Learning Opportunities

School administrations should offer accessible and equitable learning opportunities for all students. Students deserve access to high-quality education, regardless of their background or ability. 

Examples of equitable learning include:

  • Accommodations and support for students with disabilities through assistive technology, specialized instruction, and physical accommodations. 

  • Support for students learning English as a second language, including language instruction and language support services.

  • Working to reduce barriers to education, such as transportation, access to technology, and affordability. 

As a quick check of your classroom and campus, review a Classroom Equity Checklist to review your practices of ensuring equitable learning opportunities. Use the linked checklist and others like it to improve your campus environment. By providing accessible and equitable learning opportunities, schools can help ensure that all students have the necessary resources and support to succeed.

5. Address Bias and Stereotypes

Have you ever invited students and staff to reflect on their own biases and learn about the experiences of others? 

You can provide training and resources to help students and staff recognize and address bias and stereotypes. Such training can counter negative stereotypes, increase empathy, and promote understanding and acceptance of different cultures and identities.

As a starting point, review your own bias and stereotypes through articles by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. As you work to counteract bias and stereotypes in your classroom, you can teach your students and the campus to be more caring and accepting of others.

Final Thoughts

Staff and students must be dedicated to understanding and accepting others through inclusivity. By starting with just a few ways to foster inclusivity, your campus will soon be a place students and staff members enjoy being a part of.

Written by Sherry French
Education World Contributor
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