In her blog post UDL: From first encounter to toolkit development, Carrie Hanson addresses how Teaching and Learning Services’ Inclusive Workshop Toolkit can be applied to the context of workshop development, review, and facilitation. But the myriad strategies described in the Toolkit can apply to teaching and learning contexts beyond workshops. Indeed, when I explored the Toolkit, I was thinking about how one can use it to create inclusive learning environments more generally.
The Toolkit’s strategies are organized into seven categories. Each category includes guiding questions along with rationales for why you might wish to implement the strategies therein. The questions and rationales allow you to pick which strategies are most relevant to your particular teaching context.
I have chosen to highlight one strategy from each category that I believe would transfer well to classroom teaching. If you wish to incorporate accessibility and inclusivity into your teaching, the following selection of strategies taken directly from the Toolkit is intended to give a sampling of some of the easier-to-implement strategies. These strategies require minimal resources (human, material, time) to implement.
|Category||Ask yourself …||Why you should ask yourself this|
|Preparation: Beginning in a good way||Have you practiced saying Indigenous place and community names prior to delivering the workshop?||To show respect to the Indigenous communities, it is important to practice and respect their language prior to delivering the workshop and acknowledgement. There are many resources online that demonstrate how to pronounce words in different Indigenous languages.|
|Preparation: Logistics||Have you looked through material to see if you should include a content note on things like sensitive material, and/or stimuli (e.g., repeated/flashing images)?||A content note will allow for attendees to choose how and to what extent they are comfortable engaging with certain materials. (Editorial note: See the Course Outline Template and Guide for example content warning language.)|
|Facilitation||Is there more than 15 minutes of lecturing content at a given time? If yes, how can it be broken up so that there is some form of interactivity every 10-15 minutes?||Interspersing lectures with interactivity allows for learners to process and practice implementing what they are learning. (Editorial note: Check out these strategies for implementing interactive lectures.)|
|Participant engagement||How can you connect the content to participants’ prior knowledge on the topics?||Inclusive pedagogical practices suggest that this is supportive of student assets, can deepen engagement and retention; this is part of the UDL guideline for multiple means for engagement.|
|Slide decks||Have you followed good practices on document and presentation accessibility?||Being proactive with your document accessibility creation can help having to make adjustments later on. (Editorial note: Making materials accessible all at once may seem like a daunting task. It’s okay to start slowly and revise them bit by bit.)|
|In-person considerations||Do you make it clear that people can stand up or move around the space if they would like to do so? Do you indicate where they can do that so as not to disrupt others?||Some people might find it difficult to stay seated or stationary during the entirety of the session, so it can be helpful to set a norm that people are allowed to stand up or move around during the session.|
|Online considerations||Do you have pronouns next to your name on the platform?||Modeling pronoun sharing is an inclusive practice in solidarity with 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.|
Feeling more ambitious about incorporating accessibility and inclusivity into your teaching? Check out the many suggested strategies on pages 4-9 of the Toolkit to see what other strategies you might like to add.
Associate Director, Faculty and Teaching Development, and Senior Academic Associate, at McGill's Teaching and Learning Services; former Senior Faculty Lecturer at the McGill Writing Centre; area of specialization: Second Language Education; loves teaching and learning!
(Photo credit: Owen Egan)