Disclosure of Identity:
How you identify in terms of your gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, and dis/ability, among all aspects of your identity, is your choice whether to disclose (e.g. should it come up in classroom conversation about experiences and perspectives) and should be self-identified, not presumed or imposed. Avoid calling on a student to speak on behalf of an identity group.
A significant part of considering yourself an antiracist teacher is being willing to intervene and respond when microaggressions or overt instances of harassment occur in your class.
Microaggressions are brief and commonplace verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to individuals based on their marginalized group membership. These messages have lasting, negative psychological impact on the target person and group.
How Faculty Can Avoid Committing Microaggressions
• Reflect on your own attitudes, stereotypes, and expectations.
• Confront your own hesitancies.
• Do not expect students to be experts on any experiences beyond their own and do not make them speak for the experience of an entire group of people.
• Assume that the groups that you are talking about always are in some way represented in the classroom.
• In those cases when students do have the courage to contact you and point out that they were offended by a remark that you made or an action that you undertook, listen to them.
Be willing to acknowledge and apologize for mistakes.
How to Address Student-Perpetrated Microaggressions in the Classroom
• Establish standards of responsibility and behavior for working collectively with others.
• Challenge the discriminatory attitudes and behavior, rather than the person.
• Teach students that impact is more important than intent.
• Stop unintentional microinsults and ask students to rephrase or rethink comments.
• Provide accurate information to challenge stereotypes and biases in the moment whenever possible.
If you have a situation involving discriminatory behavior or need advice about a classroom or student interaction contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
One way to create an inclusive environment is in how you introduce yourself to your class on the first day. If you feel comfortable doing so, let the students know how they should address you: your name and your pronoun. ("My name is Gillian, and I go by she/her." "My name is Jamie, and my pronoun is they/them.") By setting this precedent yourself and then opening the floor for your students to introduce themselves, you make strides toward setting a tone for the space that is open and receptive.
Preferred Names and Pronouns
One of the most common microaggressions students can face are instances of being misgendered. To misgender someone is to refer to (someone, especially a transgender person) using a word, especially a pronoun or form of address, that does not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify.
If you accidentally misgender someone, acknowledge your mistake and move on.
CalArts tools include the Student Identity Project which allows students, faculty and staff to use a chosen name and pronouns in the school records; the transition to self service has allowed those pronouns to be easily seen on your roster.
Another strategy for learning your students' preferred name and pronoun on the first day of class is to pass out notecards on which each student can write their preferred name and pronoun. This allows the students to disclose this information to you in a discrete manner without "outing" themselves to the class.
Creating an inclusive classroom for Non Binary and Gender queer students is not simply about the first day of class; it is important to be aware that some students will transition and announce changes to their identity throughout the school year. Be open to accepting those changes without comment or question.
Be aware of privacy. Students that are non binary or Trans may have disclosed information about their identity to you one on one that they may not be comfortable or feel safe acknowledging in a classroom setting. Make sure you understand how they want to be addressed publicly and do not share information about their identity in class or within the larger community without their explicit permission.
Some additional resources and readings about pronouns and gender:
Strategies for teaching English Language Learners
English Language Learning (ELL) at CalArts supports the development of multilingual speakers at the intermediate English proficiency level and above. The ELL curriculum is designed specifically for students in the arts and, like métier coursework, treats language learning as a process of creative development.
If you are planning to communicate with your students primarily through written materials such as sending assignment instructions and/or lecture notes via email, please be aware of your assumptions about syntax and meaning. Please be aware of avoiding jargon or colloquialisms that may not be easily understood by students not from your cultural background or for whom English is not their first language.
An important debate about language and the art world emerged a few years ago with the essay "International Art English," which sought to analyze the origins of jargony, verbose art speak. The artist-writer Hito Steyerl responded with International Disco Latin - Journal #45 May 2013 a call to arms for international artists to invent a new language of their own. It might make you think differently about the values of English-language conformity.
It is important to ensure that linguistically-diverse students have full access to the content of your materials, delivery, and activities in all virtual formats you choose to use.
This document created at MICA provides a short and accessible overview of general considerations for classroom teaching for linguistically-diverse students.
Here is a dialogue with Allison Yasukawa about Art, design, and language as action: Q+A with Associate Professor Allison Yasukawa | CCA.
If you are defining key terms for any written material, consider consulting a learner’s dictionary. Learner’s dictionaries are designed specifically for linguistically-diverse students. Here is more information about them. Below are links to three recommended learner’s dictionaries:
For assignment instructions, consider checking the difficulty level of your language using Rewordify. You can copy and paste your assignment instructions in the text area, and Rewordify will offer alternative word choices. It is not recommended to use the Rewordify rewritten text as is; rather, it can be useful to help you to identify specific words/sections of your directions that you might want to modify or rewrite to increase clarity.
If you plan to share your lecture notes with your students, consider reviewing your notes for abbreviations. For example, if you have terms like “in gen” that appear repeatedly in your notes as an abbreviation for “in general,” you may want to provide a key of these abbreviations.
If your lecture notes are handwritten and scanned rather than typed, consider the legibility of your handwriting. Keep in mind that linguistically-diverse students may find it difficult to read cursive handwriting.