Center for Advancing Teaching Excellence: Inclusive Teaching Series

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Inclusive Teaching and CATE

Inclusive teaching strategies refer to any number of teaching approaches that address the needs of students with a variety of backgrounds, learning modalities, and abilities. These strategies contribute to an overall inclusive learning environment, in which students feel equally valued. 
(Cornell University, Center for Teaching Innovation)

Here in CATE, we believe that inclusive teaching benefits all students and can be incorporated into any and all new and existing courses. There are many small things that you can do to make your classrooms and your teaching more inclusive that don't require a lot of additional time and work. To get the most out of this online Inclusive Teaching Series, we suggest you watch the videos, download the handout, and complete the short activity for each section. 

For more information on inclusive teaching please see Teach Your Course and Best Practices or attend our live Inclusive Teaching Series at the start of each semester. You can also reach out to CATE directly at to make an appointment with a staff member to discuss ways to incorporate inclusive practices into your teaching. 

Maintaining Student Engagement 

In this session, you'll learn about using inclusive teaching strategies to engage your students as well as some active learning techniques. You'll have the opportunity to reflect on your current teaching practices/methods and find opportunities for improvement. 

Watch These Videos

Handout on Maintaining Student Engagement

Tips for Maintaining Engagement

  • Use features in Zoom to make interactive - Whiteboard, polls, participant yes/no, chat, etc.
  • Stop before breakout rooms and give space to write and think individually
  • Ask good questions – open ended, why, challenge viewpoints, encourage problem solving
  • Allow extra time for everything
  • Less content, more concise presentations; fewer slides 20-25 per hour
  • Ask your colleagues – don’t reinvent the wheel
  • Be yourself and show your personality, plan a conversation not just content
  • Make things fun! (silly polls or participant yes/no, etc.)

Activity: Reflecting on Teaching
Download and complete this worksheet to reflect on how you use inclusive teaching practices to engage students. 

Dealing with Difficult Situations

This session addresses how to anticipate and prevent difficult situations, including the creation of a brave space in your classroom. It also covers some best practices for how to handle difficult situations, when they do occur, both in the moment and afterwards. 

Watch These Videos 

Handout on Dealing with Difficult Situations

Tips on Handling Difficult Situations

  • Spend time before your class starts thinking about what sort of issues on the syllabus might prompt controversy
  • Be sure to consider how different issues may affect different student groups
  • In the moment- Use “I” statements and acknowledge existence of conflict
  • Reach out to students one-on-one outside of class setting to follow up
  • Design an in-class activity around the classroom code of conduct and/or netiquette practices
  • If a 'hot moment' occurs, ask everyone to take time to write (or draw) out what they are feeling or thinking. Make time for silent reflection. 
  • Debrief with colleagues after difficult situations arise
  • Check in with yourself about defensive reactions

Activity: Case Studies 
Download and review these case studies, then answer the associated questions to practice and reflect on how you might handle these difficult situations. 

Grading and Feedback

In this session, we offer suggestions to minimze the impact of bias on grading and feedback. We cover ways to grade student work consistently, fairly, and efficiently and techniques for providing constructive feedback to improve student learning. 

Watch These Videos

Handout on Grading and Feedback

Tips for Consistent and Efficient Grading & Feedback

  • Tell students what they've done successfully and express appreciation
  • State observations, not interpretations
  • Focus on the product, not the person
  • Read through a random sample to get a feel for the submissions before starting to assign grades
  • Grade all of the question 1, then all of question 2, etc.
  • Revisit the first and last assignments you graded, and make adjustments if needed
  • Read the whole paper before commenting, do not edit or revise student work
  • Suggest how students can do better next time and help them understand that struggle is normal

Activity: Essay Review
Download this worksheet to practice grading and providing feedback.