Teaching Tuesday: Secrets of Being a Smart Educator and Leader: Responsible, Equitable and Just

By Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick and Tracy Vasquez

teacher calling on students to contribute

Educators are responsible for students’ development of critical thinking skills. How do they perceive the world around them? Are they able to notice inequities that may exist? How can you help them process and address those inequities? Below are some strategies that you can implement to ensure that students utilize an equitable decision-making process when faced with challenging situations.

Reading

Children’s picture books and novels for adolescents can serve as an outstanding source for introducing topics about equity: prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping are some that can serve as springboards to discussions about equity. For example, the picture book, “The Other Side” by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E. B. Lewis can help students reflect on and discuss the characters’ actions, thoughts and feelings. They can compare and contrast them with their own thoughts and actions regarding their relationships with children that may look different from them.

Writing

Another way that educators can lead their students in examining their worldviews, perceptions and way of life is through virtual pen pals. For instance, after reading “The Other Side,” students can virtually connect with students in another state or another country to learn more about their counterparts’ way of life. Additionally, they can share commonalities as well as differences of cultures and societal norms.

Public Speaking

Educators wish for students to become confident, capable and contributing members of their communities. In that process, they should aim to build and enhance their skills in advocating for equity, fairness and justice. For instance, when students have conversations and discussions about these ideas in the safety of their classrooms, they are building skills for civil discourse with their peers as well as their families and local leaders. Some teachers may even encourage their students to submit opinion editorials to their local newspaper for publication. Or, they may arrange for them to speak publicly about an issue at the school board or town/city council meeting.

By intentionally providing an environment where these issues can be discussed in a courteous and polite manner, you are modeling a very important and relevant disposition: fairness. In turn, students will be armed with the skills to facilitate similar discussions with their families and those within their circles of influence. Want more? Check out all of the articles from Teaching Tuesday and return each week for a new post. To learn more about the College of Education and our degree programs, visit our website and join in our efforts to elevate the education profession.

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