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Best Practices in Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI)

Faculty that practice Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) in their classes never stagnate; they are always learning and progressing. They create a welcoming environment based not on the students they have taught, but for the students they have yet to teach. By removing threats, recognizing and correcting past wrongs, and promoting the values gained through inclusion and diversity, faculty can avoid many potential anxieties and distractions, and show that they value their students and the world beyond the classroom. 

Applying a JEDI approach creates opportunities that allow students to be invested in their learning. Here we provide an abbreviated explanation of how that might look (the hallmarks of JEDI) as well as some ideas to help get you started.

Hallmarks of JEDI

JEDI is an approach that embraces:

 

  • Recognizing, correcting, and learning from systemic and specific imbalances, traumas, and other barriers that are formed out of discriminatory, prejudicial, and even uninformed practices most often based in isms, biases, and privilege (Justice)
     

  • Building systems to create opportunities for diverse groups of people, and dismantling those that create inequalities (Justice)
     

  • Promoting conditions and allocating resources to ensure universal access and full participation (Equity)
     

  • Recognizing, honoring, and including our individual differences (experiences, cultures, traits, abilities, resources, etc.) to build a deeper connection to learning as well as among our communities and environments (Diversity and Inclusion)
     

  • Supporting individuals’ belonging and being welcomed, respected, and valued to fully participate (Diversity and Inclusion)
     

  • Building a climate of psychological safety (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion)

Preparing to Teach with JEDI

When you teach with JEDI, it is unreasonable to expect that you can incorporate practices and shape activities that are uncomfortable for or new to you. So as a start, you are encouraged to take the following actions:

  • Seek different perspectives and learn from others’ lived experiences. (Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion)

  • Know the proper communication channels to effectively clarify your understanding, speak up, and/or seek support for yourself and your students—especially when you perceive discrimination or other injustices in the classroom and greater community. (Justice)

  • Have and promote humility, admitting we all have failings and room to grow. (Diversity and Inclusion)

  • Seek out experts in your discipline who are both unfamiliar to you and whose backgrounds and/or identities are different from your own. Incorporate their voices into your course’s curriculum, and even consider inviting them as guest lecturers. (Diversity and Inclusion)

  • Practice intentional, mindful listening and reflect before responding (emotionally and verbally), especially when faced with perceived controversies or provocations. (Equity and Inclusion)

    • Listen to a narrative at its face value, seeking understanding, discovery, and insight through follow-up questions or research.

    • Recognize your own biases in your responses and interpretations.

    • Tactfully address misinformed or discriminatory behaviors and language, with solid justification and rationales and while being open to continued communication.

    • Be open to criticism without being defensive.
       

  • Familiarize yourself with inclusive language and its ever-changing and ever-evolving nature. When uncertain, ask. (Equity and Inclusion)

  • Familiarize yourself with Best Practices in Accessibility. (Equity and Inclusion)

Concrete Suggestions for Teaching with JEDI

  • Remove barriers to physical and digital accessibility.
     

  • Incorporate the UDL framework in your course design and facilitation.
     

  • Incorporate the Best Practices in Accessibility in your instruction.
     

  • Use open educational resources, which are free or nearly free, making them available without a financial barrier.
     

  • Build a diverse curriculum, incorporating activities tied to emerging and/or underrepresented experts and studies in your discipline.
     

  • Review and revise existing resources and activities.

    • For existing materials and activities, make sure to update imagery, language, and examples to represent more cultures, identities, resources, etc., when appropriate.

    • If there is a case study or narrative that is not universally understood, such as a pop-culture reference, make certain to provide background knowledge.
       

  • Build an inclusive syllabus.

    • Make it easy to digest by being clear and user-friendly, focusing on its purpose (a succinct overview of a course that serves as a contract).

    • Make certain it follows the criteria for digital accessibility.

    • Use inclusive language.

    • Give specific information so students know what they need to do in order to succeed in the course.

    • State options for office hours, including in-person and online, and explain how they are to be used.

    • Consider including a diversity statement.

    • Include a section regarding instructional technologies that will be used, including statements or links to relevant accessibility features.

    • Include the student health and well-being plus accommodations and accessibility statements (built into the CoursePlus syllabus).
       

  • Set ground rules and expectations for online and in-class discussions that go toward creating an environment where everyone’s voice matters and everyone is encouraged to listen to and learn from each other.

    • Create a space where it is safe to be uncomfortable.

    • Consider sharing something similar to these Rules of Engagement.

    • Address and mediate any unwelcome or oppressive behaviors.
       

  • Address students by their preferred names and pronouns.

    • Look to the CoursePlus roster, which displays the preferred first names and personal pronouns associated with JHED (Johns Hopkins Enterprise Directory) IDs. (The Office of the University Registrar provides instructions on specifying pronouns through the myJH portal.)

    • When using Zoom, make sure to show names when displaying video. Pronouns will be displayed with the names when participants have opted into the feature.
       

  • Make your online meetings inclusive.

  • Monitor student engagement and well-being; seek help if you are concerned.

    • Pay particular attention to any shift in dynamics, recognizing that small actions can go a long way toward reducing student stress and anxiety. For instance, increased flexibility in deadlines or a timely reminder of available resources (such as the Johns Hopkins Student Assistance Program) may be welcome.
       

  • Create opportunities to build community.

    • If time and other resources permit, allow students and faculty to interact in “nonacademic” chat before or after the scheduled class time.

    • Encourage collaboration, but respect those students who prefer independence when interdependence and teamwork do not tie directly to the learning objectives.
       

  • Give students meaningful, unbiased feedback that allows them to make progress and shows them you value their efforts.
     

  • Create opportunities for student contributions to the course; allow the student voice to be part of the curriculum.

    • Provide effective, thought-provoking prompts in discussions that encourage dialogue that goes beyond the perspectives and anticipated objectives of the planned lectures and supporting materials.

    • Provide opportunities for students to teach and learn from each other, perhaps creating a tutorial or presentation that summarizes a unit or serves as an extension of a lecture.

    • Allow students to become “researchers,” inviting them to investigate and respond to each other’s questions.

    • Build connections with other students studying a similar course or topic in a different discipline or even at a university in a different country.
       

  • Encourage and welcome feedback on your teaching (and the course design). Reflect and act on that feedback.

    • Listen carefully when hearing or reading students’ concerns or potential points of confusion (for instance, through exit tickets or during office hours). You have the opportunity not just to address the individual matter, but also to see whether you can change something to mitigate similar issues in the future.

    • Include a midterm survey, and do not be afraid to pivot from your original course design (without violating the contract of the syllabus).

    • Always reflect on the final course evaluations when planning a subsequent offering.

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