Cardinal Rules for Teachers

WSPRA recognizes that educators are seeing a significant increase in the ethnic and racial diversity represented by the students in their districts and classrooms. This insert represents the first in a series of articles and resources dealing with equity issues.

The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University has posted an online document: “Tips for Teachers: Encouraging Students in a Racially Diverse Classroom.”

In the document, these “Cardinal Rules” are cited:

  • Learn as much about and become as sensitive as you can to racial, ethnic, and cultural groups other than your own.
  • At the same time, NEVER make assumptions about an individual based on the racial, ethnic, or cultural groups he or she belongs to. Treat each student first and foremost as an individual. Get to know students individually.

The article suggests that teachers prepare themselves to do this in several ways:

  • Begin to assess one’s own conscious and unconscious biases about people of cultures other than one’s own.
  • Plan the course with the multicultural context in mind: to think of syllabi, course assignments, and potential classroom dynamics in these terms.
  • Find ways to make the actual classroom open and safe for all students and to make the material accessible for all students.
  • Learn how to deal with hot moments and hot topics.

For the entire online article visit: fas.harvard.edu/~bok_cen/docs/TFTrace.html

This article was submitted at WSPRA’s request by Randall Rasmussen, Equity Committee member of the School District of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

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