Center for Advancing Teaching Excellence: Inclusive Teaching - Small Steps

Small Steps

At CATE, we focus on small steps you can take towards making your classes more inclusive. Here are some small steps you can take now that will have a big impact. Start with one or two and add more as you are comfortable.

If you need other ideas or implementation support, or if you have a small step you'd like to add to our list please contact us at

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Professional Development

  • Come to a brown bag, see schedule on our News and Events page.
  • Attend a CATE event such as our syllabus workshop.
  • Read an article on inclusive teaching and learning.
  • Learn about implicit bias and how to minimize it in your teaching.
  • Review this tip sheet on Supporting Student Learning and Well-Being from the Longhorn Wellness Center.
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Syllabus & Materials

  • Add a new text (or replace an old one) from a diverse author representing diverse perspectives.
  • Add a flexibility statement into your syllabus emphasizing understanding and caring.
  • State your learning outcomes and explicitly relate them to course assessments.
  • Replace a book or other material that costs students money with free Open Educational Resources (OER).
  • Include a diversity statement on your syllabus and in Canvas and include your commitment to inclusive teaching.
  • Set clear guidelines for respect, civility, and professionalism in your syllabus.
  • Include course materials in different media, e.g., books, articles, web sites, videos, podcasts.
  • Update your images (PowerPoint, Keynote, handouts, Canvas) and examples to be sure they reflect diversity.
  • Ensure that all course materials are accessible (PDFs, alt text on images, etc.)
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Positive Classroom Culture

  • Post/share a welcome message with an introduction at the start of the semester.
  • Use icebreakers early and frequently throughout the semester.
  • Invite a student you don’t know well to office hours.
  • Learn your students’ names (and how to pronounce them).
  • Hold individual and group office hours (online and in person).
  • Create a student Q&A forum (using Canvas discussions, GroupMe, Discord, etc.) for students to ask and answer questions from each other.
  • Set expectations that all students will interact with each other professionally and respectfully.
  • Lead the class in creating collective community norms, e.g., in-class or online discussion or group projects.
  • Effectively respond to minor (and major) disruptions.
  • When planning group activities, consider whether assigning roles will improve group efficiency or learning outcomes.
  • Normalize academic struggle and mistakes as opportunities for deeper learning.
  • Provide a list of campus mental health and wellbeing resources, emergency funding, food insecurity, academic support, etc.
  • Set ground rules for maintaining productive discourse and encourage students to hold each other accountable.
  • Use a student survey at the start of class asking for preferred names, pronouns, and anything that they’d like to share that will help you to support their learning.
  • Check in on students individually, as possible, and as needed, around major assignments or challenging times in the semester.
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Assessment & Grading

  • Solicit feedback from students at various points, early, mid, and end of semester and then use the feedback to improve your course.
  • Add a “drop the lowest score” option to low stakes assignments, such as quizzes.
  • Allow one assignment to be two days late or allow two assignments to be one day late each.
  • Mix up your assessments – allow students a choice between writing a paper, creating a video, doing a live presentation, or let them propose something.
  • Make the alignment between assessments and learning outcomes explicit.
  • Use rubrics – create a short video explaining the criteria so students can review if they’re uncertain as they complete the assignment.
  • Provide opportunities to use feedback to improve performance.
  • Use grading practices that recognize and reward growth and improvement.
  • Share time estimates for activities and assignments to help students manage their time.
  • Model and use examples whenever possible – discussion posts, papers, live participation, etc.
  • Use peer review to help students develop critical thinking and improve assignments before they are submitted.
  • Ask students to do self-assessment and reflection to help develop metacognitive skills.

Inclusive Teaching: Making Small Changes

Inclusive Teaching Works!

[He] has been exceptionally understanding and supporting of his students. He has always made sure to ask us about our well-being before any school work matters. He also always takes the time to adjust his classwork so that we are not overwhelmed by our life outside of school AND in school.

Student comment from the Moody Shout Outs