All over the world, school and university teachers are working fast and hard to set up remote learning as a feasible response to the COVID-19 crisis. While always fundamental to inclusive teaching, meeting the needs and reflecting the experiences of diverse students takes on heightened importance during such uncertainty.
In these unprecedented times, students’ ability to engage in remote learning may be variously impacted by inequity and marginalization. Many thousands of students have family members who are sick, working under challenging circumstances, or under severe financial stress. College and university students may be forced to juggle caregiving responsibilities while struggling with the devastation of the virus. To add to an already stressful situation, they or their family members may also be working in the medical field or in other essential occupations.
As you develop your remote learning initiatives, it’s important that assignments remain flexible and account for students’ emotional and physical response to mass illness and unprecedented changes in daily life. The following checklist can help you weave equity considerations into your remote assignments during the COVID-19 crisis.
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These questions were developed by the DiversityEdu team and are adapted from Westaby, K. A., Williams, T. M., Robinson, N. N., & Connors, E. (2019). Being responsive: The first assessment of culturally responsive evaluation in Wisconsin: Findings from the 2017 survey. Milwaukee, WI: ¡Milwaukee Evaluation!, Inc.
How can we help?
As an online diversity and inclusion learning company, our overarching purpose is to support our partners in building inclusive cultures. Equity considerations brought forth by the COVID-19 crisis are implicit in our work, from social justice questions to online learning issues to examining bias, exclusion, and empathy for others.
In this special edition of The Lens, we offer resources to help you keep equity considerations in mind as you teach, lead, and support one another during this time.
It can be confusing, not to mention overwhelming, to be on the receiving end of a barrage of COVID-19-related updates, especially when you have a team to lead. For those of you feeling upended by how best to continue your work amidst this crisis, check out these resources:
COVID-19 Equity Considerations for Remote Learning Initiatives
How to Lead Through a Crisis
Coronavirus: How Employers Around the Globe Are Responding
Coronavirus and Teleworking: Tips for Preparing Your Workforce
The COVID-19 crisis reveals the severe inequality that exists in this country. While many people are inconvenienced, others are suddenly wondering how they will pay their bills, or how they will protect themselves and their family as they continue to clock in at work. Consider ways you can support those more vulnerable than you right now.
Practice and promote protective measures that keep those still working safe
Donate or help organize relief funds
Push for policies like free COVID-19 testing and treatment for all
Offer your services pro bono or volunteer
As the nation grapples with uncertain and ever-growing concerns about the impact of COVID-19, an unintended consequence may be the propensity to find fault, cast blame or demonize others as a way of coping with the situation. The irony of this is that during times such as these we need each other more than ever.
The CDC’s Guide to Reducing Stigma
Coronavirus threat escalates fears — and bigotry
When Xenophobia Spreads Like a Virus
Speaking up against racism around the new coronavirus
If there’s anything COVID-19 is showing us, it’s that we’re all much more dependent on one another than we might have thought. Going forward, how can we foster inclusion and humanitarian thinking in our schools, workplaces, and communities?
Coronavirus Pandemic Showing Us How Truly Connected We Are
6 Ways You Can Help Your Community Fight The Impacts Of Coronavirus
Students Organize Their Own Aid Networks
The implications of social distancing paired with stress-scrolling social media (or stress-surfing news channels) can take a heavy toll on your mental health and overall well-being. If you start feeling isolated, stressed, and/or unregulated, take a moment to look over these tips:
A Comprehensive List of Well-Being Strategies During Coronavirus
Tips for Emotional Resilience During the Coronavirus Crisis
Mental Health in the Age of Coronavirus
Social distancing may mean we’re physically separated, but it doesn’t mean we’re alone. Exercise empathy remotely by checking in regularly with vulnerable friends and family and engaging with content and buying online goods from artists and gig workers who may have just lost their primary source of income.
Livestream options such as FaceTime, Instagram Live, Google Hangouts, and Zoom
Remote Collaboration Tools
Letterboxd lets you collect and discuss movies with friends
The Art of Socializing During a Quarantine
Between abrupt school closures and the sudden shift to remote work and learning, this time period may be traumatic for students and educators alike. If you’re an educator or a parent homeschooling their child, the following resources may help ease the shock of breaking out of routine:
Coronavirus Tech Handbook: Tools for Schools
Non-Screen Activities You Can Do from Home
10 Strategies for Online Learning During a Coronavirus Outbreak
COVID-19, School Cancellation, and Trauma
Permission to Do a Bad Job of Putting Your Courses Online
Over the past ten years, we’ve made some exciting strides with regard to diversity and inclusion. Think, for instance, of the rising demand for diversity and inclusion experts, the growing availability of gender-neutral bathrooms, and the way the Occupy, Black Lives Matter, #NoDAPL, and #MeToo movements have shined their respective spotlights on income inequality, anti-Black racism, indigenous rights, and sexual assault.
Undergraduate student bodies are more racially diverse than ever. Employment for people with disabilities is on the rise. LGBTQ+ people can finally see authentic representations of themselves in movies and TV shows like Moonlight, Broad City, and Pose, among others. And in 2018, a record number of women were elected to Congress, 36 percent of whom were women of color.
As we look ahead to the new year and decade, how can we continue to make our schools and organizations more inclusive? Keep reading for a list of D&I trends we’d like to see take hold in 2020.
People who benefit from white privilege often don’t think to reflect on their own whiteness—even if they’re otherwise committed to dismantling white supremacy, racism, and other forms of injustice. The reason?
White privilege inherently makes whiteness hard to see, and confronting whiteness requires discomfort and vulnerability.
But in order to be a good ally to people of color, it’s critical that white people discuss the ways in which whiteness shapes their everyday experiences. How does a system of white supremacy both benefit and damage white people? How can white people utilize their whiteness to support people of color at home, work, school, and elsewhere?
As Hanna Stephens writes, “An intersectional perspective deepens the understanding that there is diversity and nuance in the ways in which people hold power.” Before we draw conclusions on topics like healthcare, academic research, environmentalism, and inclusion, we must take into account the impact of people’s intersectional identities.
• Discussing women’s access to healthcare also means understanding that maternal deaths are often linked to racist notions that remain prevalent among healthcare providers.
• If researchers treat people with disabilities as a monolith, their research will likely overlook the impact of intersecting identities on experiences of disability.
• Climate change affects us all, but those with less socioeconomic power will face the harshest repercussions, some examples being the areas hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Maria.
• While gender and race are known to have an adverse effect on hiring and recruitment, the career-limiting effects of fatphobia are largely ignored.
As we enter 2020, let’s make it a trend to expand our understanding of diversity to those whose intersectional identities push them furthest to the margins. The first step? Listening not only to the experiences of which you’re aware, but also those that are less familiar or harder to hear.
In her book Invisible Women, Caroline Criado Perez points out that some of the most well-intentioned workplace policies fail to account for the lived realities of women employees. For instance, some universities began offering parents an extra year per child to earn tenure, to account for the gender gap in the tenure-track system. However, what they didn’t realize is that new fathers generally spend the extra year doing more research, while new mothers spend it “throwing up, going to the toilet every five minutes, changing nappies or [being] plugged into their breast pump.”
In other instances, women of color are systematically prevented from workplace advancement as a result of unchecked unconscious bias, lack of support from higher-ups, and “protective hesitation” feedback, among other factors. How can inclusive hiring practices be restructured to solve these issues?
For one thing, commitment to diversity from leadership is a must. That includes insisting on diversity in the C-suite and ensuring that HR has the skills they need to foster diversity and inclusion. It’s also important to offer family leave policies that account for gendered differences in daily life. Not only do the aforementioned university policies penalize women, but many men shy away from taking parental leave without explicit support from leadership. Similarly, the expectation to get promoted within a couple of years may create tension among new parents and other caregivers.
Conducting diversity climate assessments can help HR avoid unintentionally harmful policies, while also helping leadership understand actual employee experiences and areas for growth in 2020.
AI has progressed leaps and bounds from the 2010 advent of Google’s personalized search results and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect. As of 2020, AI can diagnose cancer, prepare us for natural disasters, and promote sustainability efforts, among other functions.
But AI can also reproduce racist, sexist, transphobic, and other exclusionary attitudes.
As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) aptly said, “Algorithms are still made by human beings, and those algorithms are still pegged to basic human assumptions…if you don’t fix the bias, then [you’re] just automating the bias.” In 2020 and beyond, we hope to see AI scientists make a special effort to identify and reduce unconscious bias in technology. That way, AI can aid us in building a more inclusive world, instead of merely replicating human biases.
Conversations about social justice and diversity can often become inflammatory as they circulate on social media. It’s become a common trend for people to resort to publicly calling others out for microaggressive or oppressive behavior, either in-person or online. Such a reaction may make sense when drawing attention to a celebrity’s problematic behavior or when someone has been unresponsive and unaccountable.
But in general, call-out culture often leaves people feeling defensive, misunderstood, shamed, and blamed—particularly when the person being called out caused offense without knowing any better. Before calling someone out, consider your intentions behind doing so. Is your goal to shame or punish the person, or are you invested in their ability to change their behavior?
If the answer is the latter, consider whether you can have a private, one-on-one conversation instead. The process of calling in for a stronger, more inclusive community in 2020 means acknowledging that we all make mistakes and believing that we can do better.
Much of the progress made in the 2010s planted roots for progress. As we usher in 2020 and a new decade, taking hold of the trends above will help grow diversity and inclusion in all areas of society .