Some IU faculty and graduate student instructors will attend a presentation Friday put on by IU’s Scholarship of Teaching and Learning program to help educators be more inclusive in their classrooms.
Bryan Dewsbury, an assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island, will present “Teaching for Meaning and Purpose." Drewsbury will present research he conducted in his classroom. He will speak about how educators can connect with students while teaching by focusing on the students’ diverse backgrounds and lived experiences.
He approaches inclusive teaching from a relational perspective by getting to know his students and their strengths and challenges, said Shannon Sipes, director of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning program.
“There are many things that students will have experienced in their lifetimes that contribute to how they learn in the class or where they may be resistant in the class,” she said.
Dewsbury will speak at noon in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center’s Grand Hall. He will also lead an interactive workshop titled “A Chance at Birth,” which will cover similar topics and take place 10:30 a.m. the same day in the Chemistry Building’s Sciences Library.
Helping faculty learn the skills needed to build relationships in the classroom is important to help students think critically and succeed academically, said Carmen Henne-Ochoa, director of diversity and inclusion for the College of Arts and Sciences.
“We have a responsibility to connect with our students, not just to deposit information into their brains,” she said.
IU’s large class sizes allow for more access to classes and more educational opportunities for its students, Henne-Ochoa said. But size sometimes makes it more challenging for educators to connect with those students.
“How do we speak to them?” she asked. “How do we look at them? How do we connect with them? And how do we engage with them in ways that make them feel like they’re not just a number in the classroom — that they’re not just keeping a seat warm?”
Friday’s presentation is targeted toward IU faculty and graduate students who lead classes, but a video of Dewsbury’s key points will be posted online afterward for anyone to watch.
Dewsbury said he hopes to inspire educators to challenge themselves to think of their classrooms in a different, more inclusive way following the presentation.
“I don’t expect them to walk away from the event having ‘checked the box’ of inclusion,” he said. “I expect the event to be a starting journey for them, or a continuation for some.”