Inclusive Teaching Practices

Home/ Effective Teaching/ Inclusive Classrooms/

INclusive Teaching Practices

Utilizing inclusive teaching practices can help faculty ensure equity and a sense of safety for members of the Centre community. With the resources and practices described in this section, instructors can work to create classroom environments that facilitate a sense of connectedness and belonging for all students.

syllabi statements

Course syllabi communicate objectives and expectations for the classroom and student behavior. They also serve to support student learning and can encourage mental health and well-being by promoting and de-stigmatizing help-seeking behaviors. Find examples of syllabi statements,

Trama-Informed Teaching Practices

Normalize The Need For Help

Be Open

Let students know you are a resource for them and are available to talk to about their concerns, both academic and personal.

Be Upfront

Address mental health early on. Let students know you are there for them as a source of support for academic assistance, but also if they are experiencing mental health difficulties.

Add resources to your syllabus

Include a mental health statement on your syllabus. Add the number and email for counseling services or other resources on campus. Discuss and emphasize mental health as a priority.

Actively Listen (Validate, Appreciate, and Refer)

Validate their feelings:

Let students know that what they are feeling is ok and you believe them. Even if you can’t relate, it’s real to them; and acknowledging that what they are going through is okay will help them. Let them know you are there to listen.

Validation sounds like…

Appreciate their courage:

It can be scary to admit you’re struggling. Let students know that you’re glad they opened up to you and that you know that wasn’t easy. Let them know you are there to support them and encourage them – that they are not alone.

Appreciation sounds like…

Refer them to skills and support:

Understanding what students need at a particular time can be challenging. Sometimes all they need is a listening ear, quality time, or encouragement. Other times, they may need specific resources or skills. In those cases, let them know what resources are available and direct them toward the skills, strategies, or resources that will best help them in those moments.

Refer sounds like…

Embed Courses with Well-Being Practices:

For more information check out the resources below:

Practice Universal Design for learning

The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework guides curriculum development to give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. Below you will find resources from the UDL Lunch and Learn with Jennifer Pusateri in October 2021 as well as addition information about UDL and incorporating the main tenets into your work and classes.

UDL Lunch and Learn


Introduction to UDL

UDL, Part 1 Zoom Recording

UDL, Part 2 Zoom Recording

Learn more about UDL and the main tenets:

Use Inclusive Language

Knowing your students’ names and pronouns are important to creating an inclusive classroom environment. Feeling seen as an individual can help create community within the classroom and improve class dynamics, discussion, and moral.

Learn their names. Ask their pronouns, use them appropriately. Normalize it. Try using a survey at the beginning of the semester to collect this information so you know.

Work to de-gender common language also helps with a sense of inclusivity by deconstructing the binary element that often leaves out individuals who don’t identify, or otherwise demotivates them to engage with material that doesn’t relate.

resources for inclusive classroom teaching

*Content borrowed heavily from

Building Inclusive Classrooms

Norms of Engagement

Norms of engagement can be thought of as classroom ground rules when students are engaging in discussion and dialogue. Usually, these are centered around being respectful and open. Below are two resources that list various examples of norms of engagement.

Establishing ground rules help hold students accountable by clearly stating classroom expectations. Setting ground rules from the start of class by including them on your syllabus can be a great method to set the tone for the classroom, but it’s important to revisit them periodically or as situations arise that necessitate alterations. It can also be helpful to have students collaborate with you and their peers to help craft the ground rules for the classroom to create a sense of community and shared ownership of responsibility for upholding them throughout the semester.

Community Engagement Norms

Establishing Classroom Ground Rules


Course materials should be accessible to all students. Students who may need specific accommodations (i.e. support or resources to complete coursework or extra time on assignments or exams) will receive support from the Academic Affairs Office and the Office of Disability Services and/or the Centre Learning Commons (CLC) along with direct communication and collaboration with faculty.

Classroom Climate

Classroom climate can deeply affect student learning. Students learn and grow in environments that represent and support their identities and in which they feel included, safe, and are given a variety of perspectives. A few examples of ways in which faculty can influence classroom climate are:

Being reflective about the classroom climate and checking in regularly and directly with students about the classroom climate can dramatically impact the atmosphere of the learning space. Soliciting feedback from students not only helps you as the instructor, but also helps students become more engaged and integral participants in building a positive classroom climate.

Ways to manage classroom climate:

Connecting with your Students

Students benefit from connection with you as an individual, a human; and not just their instructor. Share with them your research, your background, what brought you to Centre, what you are passionate about. Find out who your students really are. Why are they at Centre; why are they taking this class; what are they interested in. When faculty show interest in finding out who their students really are, students feel seen and are generally more engaged and willing to ask for help when they need it.

Ideas for connecting with students:

Click here to learn more about understanding and engaging today’s learners, (, 2021)


Icebreakers can be a great way to introduce a tough topic for discussion, allow students to get to know one another, or become familiar with course content. They are intended to be fun and inclusive.

Reasons to use icebreakers in class:

Considerations for icebreakers:

Getting started with Icebreakers:

Inclusive Teaching Strategies

Inclusive teaching strategies help create an inclusive learning environment where students feel equally valued. By addressing the needs of students with varied backgrounds, learning modalities, and abilities through the use of inclusive teaching strategies, students feel included and generally more engaged.

Benefits of inclusive teaching strategies:

Considerations for Inclusive Teaching:

Getting Started with Inclusive Teaching Strategies:

If you have questions about how to make your classes more inclusive or which teaching strategies to implement, please reach out to the CTL staff for a consultation or explore the additional resources on your own.

For additional resources, view Cornell’s guide to Inclusive Teaching.

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that guides the design of instructional goals, assessments, activities, and content to meet the needs of individual learners. To learn more about how to incorporate UDL in your courses, visit the Universal Design in Learning webpage,