63 Inclusion & Belonging

Patricia Cantor

Summer 2019

Throughout this summer of CPLC, I’ve spent hours talking with colleagues about teaching and learning and done lots of reflecting on my own—most of it during the commute to and from Concord. Unfortunately, I haven’t been organized enough to record my car-ride reflections or immediately jot down my thoughts upon arriving home or on campus. What I have done is make a lot of lists of what I want to remember, investigate, act on, and come back to. So, in recognition of my highly developed capacity for creating detailed and ambitious To-Do lists, this synthesis and reflection is in the form of such a list, organized around some takeaway messages that that I want to keep in mind as I tackle Tackling a Wicked Problem this fall.

Be inclusive

  • Interpret “inclusion” in the broadest
    possible sense of the word.
  • Continue to think about and strive for
  • Start with accessibility, but don’t stop
    there. Think about how to promote
    participation and engagement.
  • Try to apply the Universal Design for
    Learning principles—offer students
    multiple means of engagement,
    representation, and action and
  • Exercise empathy! Consider any
    possible barriers to students’ access and participation and work to eliminate or get around those barriers.

Learn from and with others.

  • Be open to others’ perspectives.
  • Remember the value (and the joy) of
    collaborating, exchanging ideas, sharing questions, being challenged, and being confused together.
  • Rely on the support of others to make it easier and more exciting to take risks, try out ideas, and even fail—and
    support others in the same way.
  • Give the students space and time to
    pursue their interests and determine
    the direction of their own learning.
  • Reflect, alone and with others.
  • Acknowledge and appreciate what I’m
    learning from others.
Cultivate the students’ sense of belonging.

  • Focus on building and sustaining a
    welcoming, encouraging, respectful
    community of learners.
  • Be explicit, in my words and actions,
    about the value of community and how
    it supports our learning.
  • Be positive in my interactions with
  • Remember that trust is essential.
    Always err on the side of trust—believe
    the students. Be worthy of their trust.
  • Exercise empathy! Consider what it’s
    like to be a first-year student—how
    scary it can be to make a mistake, try
    new things, do something you’re not
    good at. Create a safe environment so
    learners feel supported and able to take risks.
  • Remember that co-regulation supports
    the development of self-regulation*—
    which is why trust is essential.
  • Notice and name when students are
    practicing the Habits of Mind—draw
    their attention to their own efforts and
  • Get to know and appreciate each


* See Rosanbalm, K.D., & Murray, D.W. (2017). Caregiver Co-regulation Across Development: A Practice Brief. OPRE Brief #2017-80. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, US. Department of Health and Human Services.


graphic interpretation of this essay by Kelsey Donnelly
created by Kelsey Donnelly

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