The first day of school is around the corner for millions of educators and secondary students will be filling out a “Getting to Know You” survey in pretty much every class. Make yours stand apart by being inclusive in three ways.
(Side note: English teachers, prepare for students to be more confused about what a pronoun is than having to select their pronouns...and try not to cry when they ask was pronouns are!)
Don’t assume every student has a mom, dad, 1.5 siblings, and a dog
Family structures are diverse. Instead of asking for the contact information of a parent, leave it open-ended by asking for the guardian/caregiver information. Some students may live with a grandparent or relative. Of course, this is also sensitive to students who may be living in the foster system or may have recently experienced the loss of a parent.
Accommodate students with disabilities and/or English language learners
A lot of times, our surveys can have a lot of words and can overwhelm students who may have a hard time reading or getting their thoughts down on paper. Consider adding helpful icons (such as a photo of a telephone) or checklists that can minimize the amount of words students need to write. You may want to consider creating a shorter version of your survey with these changes as well as telling students that you are happy to read the survey out loud to them and take responses verbally if that is what they prefer.
While this is not an exhaustive lift for inclusivity on the first day of school, it’s a great place to start to show your students that you care and that you classroom is a safe and affirming environment.
For more ideas on FREE resources for creating a safer classroom environment for all students, visit Teaching Tolerance and GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network).
Carla Rivera-Cruz (CRC) is an educator and entrepreneur committed to helping like-minded educators reach their fullest potentials.