How can Supply Teachers promote diversity and inclusion in the classroom?

Diversity and equality in education are the cornerstones of a truly inclusive school culture. No teacher will intentionally have an unconscious bias in the classroom, but it happens. Every teacher, and supply teacher, will have bias across race, gender, ability, language, and income. In this article, we share how you can promote diversity and inclusion in the classroom and signpost you to free diversity training to develop your knowledge and skills around classroom inclusion.


What causes inequality in the classroom?

Classroom inequality can stem from teacher bias: a product of the teacher’s background, cultural environment, and personal experiences. The Institute of Supply Teachers (IoST) shares a 2-part diversity and inclusion in the classroom training course, accessible via the Teacher Learning Camp (TLC) portal. A classroom or school that supports a discriminatory culture, even subconsciously, is the cause of inequality in the classroom. Your role as a supply teacher is to create a classroom environment where discriminatory views and actions are quashed.

Find out who the Institute of Supply Teachers are and how they are making supply worth it.

The free 2-part diversity and inclusion training available on the TLC portal covers some common unconscious bias phrases that may impact our behaviour towards children. Trudy Bourgeois from the Huffington Post identifies the incorrect yet common racial stereotype that ‘Asians are good with technical things’. An opinion that could impact the expectations teachers have for students in particular subjects.


What does inequality in the classroom look like?

Inequality in the classroom can show itself in several forms. To place this into a supply teaching context, unconscious bias and inequality barriers could display themselves as simply the choice of students to answer questions or complete a task. Human nature favours those with similarities: race, gender, interests, and physical attributes. If your unconscious bias favours students who ‘slip through the net’ as you felt that happened to you when at school. These quiet, hardworking students could be favoured to answer more questions or trusted to complete errands around the school more readily than their ‘noisier’ peers. Another of the several examples of unconscious bias found in the TLC free online CPD training is the talent review bias. The method of assessment or talent review can often be tailored to meet a certain bias towards personalities. This can lead to inequalities in the classroom, as a one size fits all approach can be used.


How to promote equality and diversity in the classroom?

So how do we avoid unconscious bias and promote equality and diversity in the classroom? The first step towards an inclusive classroom is the awareness of your own unconscious bias.

Identify your own unconscious biases

Seek out reflection opportunities to discover what your unconscious bias may be and how you can avoid this impacting your teaching.

Remind yourself regularly

Amy Lazarus from Inclusion Ventures’ sticky note suggestion is included in the TLC’s training course on diversity and inclusion. She recommends placing a sticky note in a prominent place, such as a laptop or desk, that reminds you ‘I have biases’.

Get to know your class as a supply teacher

Getting to know your class helps you to build relationships quickly and begin to form common interests with students, a top tip for a supply teacher is to find out the common interests and hobbies you may have with your students. Consider beginning your supply placement with an all-about-me starter. Encourage your students to share 5 pieces of information about themselves and look for common links.

You can access free online supply teacher CPD via the Teacher Learning Camp (TLC): develop your skills and gain accredited recognition quickly.