How We Will Work to Create Inclusive and Equitable Classes

Part 2: This winter’s teaching artist retreat was a time for us to engage in dialogue and develop strategies to better serve the students we work with. Creating an inclusive classroom space begins with understanding the students that we serve, building new paradigms, strategies and practices. We sought to make this workshop interactive, a safe space for asking questions, and a space for learning from each other and our experiences. Specifically, we hoped to:

  1. Examine our own histories, contexts, education and biases.
  2. Be introduced to practical strategies to lead our classes with new viewpoints.
  3. Reflect on and define our ideas of what a safe and accepting classroom environment looks like from multiple perspectives and contexts.
  4. Make connections to our students’ experiences through conversation and creating artwork.

Below are our teaching artist’s responses to the prompt: How I will work to create an inclusive and equitable studio:

(duplicates indicate more than one individual responded similarly)

  • Work with students to create their own criteria for a positive classroom
  • Honesty
    • Answer questions
    • Ask questions
  • Transparency
  • Be more aware of how current events affect others from different backgrounds/in different situations etc
  • I will show examples of artists the represent my students
  • I will challenge my students to include others in their conversations
  • Create opportunities for students to have small group conversations on day one
  • I will allow myself to make mistakes when demo-ing or discussing to show I am not “perfect” to model space for mistakes
  • Find more common ground
  • Show examples of work from a diverse group of people
  • Show more examples of art
  • Work with students to create their own criteria for a positive classroom
  • Bring students to spaces that represent them and their communities
  • Have many ways for students to learn each others’ names
    • Games
    • Nametags
    • Do repeatedly
  • Have interactions about life’s ordeals each day
  • Discuss art an artists from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds
  • I will ask my students lots of questions
  • Have high expectations
  • Ask different students to control Spotify during work time
  • Be flexible
  • Hold structured small-group discussions where every student expresses their ideas to 3-4 classmates
  • Keep every student busy. No matter the skill level or working speed. Give each students and work to do at all times
    • Making work makes happy kids
  • Students that care for one another
  • Get students thinking about their course/art practice in their free time & coming to class ready to work/galvanized
  • I am going to make an effort to show artwork from more diverse and inclusive artists
  • Use student’s preferred names and pronouns
  • Listen
  • Ask how they are doing- How’s school going? etc
  • I will make it clear I am at the same level as students
    • Physically- sitting at table with them- not in front of room
    • Emotionally- be transparent about having bad days etc
  • Listen to each other
  • Show artists and artwork that reflect each student’s backgrounds
  • I will create a positive environment for discussion free of judgment based on preconceived notions
  • Having trust/ have honest discussions
  • I will encourage free expression based on researched ideas
  • I will try to be a safe conduit fro students to discuss ideas comfortably
  • Learn every students preferred name and create ways for students to learn and call each other by name
  • I am going to remember everyone’s name and will be mindful of pronouns
  • I will feel more comfortable to make mistakes
  • Positive/constructive reinforcement and discussion
  • Understanding
  • Learn each student’s individual interests
  • I am going to work on not walking into the studio with assumptions about student populations
  • Spend more time with and learning about each individual student
  • See everyone as an individual
  • Play
  • Reinforce learning and using names when talking about work or in general
  • Tell students not to worry about spelling and grammar be of certain learning disabilities that can hinder the subject matter (I struggled with this growing up)
  • Show intentionally diverse visual examples
  • Mistakes aren’t failure
  • Mistakes don’t need to be hidden
  • Learn student’s interests

Kate Adams About Kate Adams
Kate Adams is an artist, teaching artist, and mom. As a Marwen staff member she oversees Marwen’s teaching artist professional development, student assessment, and program evaluation. Through her artwork she explores concepts of home, generations and change. You can reach her at

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