Tolerance in the Classroom: Microaggressions, Trigger Warnings, and Safe SpacesIn a 2016 survey on school climate, Teaching Tolerance found that “verbal harassment, the use of slurs and derogatory language, and disturbing incidents” are on the rise in schools across America (“After Election Day”). Unsurprisingly, there has also been an increase in articles with headlines like “4 Tips to Teach Kindness,” “Creating Equitable and Just Classrooms” and “Talking About Tolerance.”
By definition, a classroom is a space where “students gather collectively”—a place where many different individuals come together to form a learning community. As teachers, how this learning community works is largely based on the culture we create in our own classrooms. As the world outside the classroom becomes increasingly complex, how do we create genuinely safe learning environments where all student experience is valued and respected?
This year’s annual conference provides an opportunity for us to think and write together to investigate and grapple with issues around difference and equity in the classroom. More specifically, we’ll focus on how writing-based teaching strategies can help foster the kinds of safe and creative spaces that students thrive in. How might informal writing and active listening help to create an atmosphere of inclusion? Given the evolving terminologies associated with identity, how can we make sure to be attentive to the language we use and promote?
Through experiential workshop sessions and a plenary, this conference will highlight IWT’s writing-based teaching practices and how they might help us foster a more solid classroom community in which open dialogue and culturally responsive curricula embody the definition of a safe space for learning.