SFU-led projects

How SFU’s Centre for Educational Excellence is leading the conversation on inclusive post-secondary classrooms

January 10, 2023
I-Chant Chiang (L), and Fiona Shaw (R), of SFU's Centre for Educational Excellence.

SFU’s Centre for Educational Excellence (CEE) is bringing post-secondary educators from across Canada together to explore innovative and impactful teaching practices centered on inclusion. With a diversity of approaches surrounding identity, health and accessibility, CEE’s second annual Inclusion in the Classroom Week will take place November 1-5.

Inclusion in the Classroom Week was created last year in response to a clear demand from faculty and instructors.

“There was a firm interest in talking about racism, specifically anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in the classroom,” says I-Chant Chiang, director of CEE’s Curriculum and Instruction Division. “We wanted to support that, and decided to put together a week of programs, bringing in both new workshops and connecting instructors with existing CEE content.” The events drew participants from numerous post-secondary institutions, even gaining international attendance.

CEE was formed in 2019 with a mission of inspiring and supporting innovative, inclusive and reflective teaching approaches. Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives have been a pillar of the centre since its formation, with many offerings dedicated to fostering the development of inclusive teaching approaches for diverse learners and pedagogies.

CEE’s 2021 Faculty Needs survey found that inclusive practices were still top-of-mind for instructors. “The conversations have not stopped,” Chiang says. “If anything, they’ve increased.”

This year’s Inclusion in the Classroom Week builds upon the prior year, offering reflective spaces and introductory workshops, as well as deep dives into more advanced EDI topics. The curriculum is designed to accommodate a spectrum of career stages and entry points to EDI knowledge and inclusive practices, says Fiona Shaw, associate director of English as an Additional Language Initiatives at CEE.

“Inclusion in the Classroom Week is an invitation for folks to take the first step in incorporating inclusive teaching ideas, and an open door for continued conversations with CEE,” Shaw says. “We’re here to support instructors in what they need to support students in the classroom.”

“The SFU community is ready, they’re fully in it and doing lots of great work already, so we want to build on that,” adds Chiang.

While last year’s series addressed inclusion in online learning, and anti-racism, this year’s series also offers a look at the intersections of BIPOC identities and SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity), and trauma-informed pedagogy.

“With the pandemic, essentially the whole world has gone through a trauma together, and is still going through one, really,” says Chiang. “In this workshop, we’ll look at some of the ways in which instructors can support students experiencing anxiety or mental health issues.” The session aims to surface issues that show people are not alone in their experiences, and help attendees leave with relevant skills.

“We want to offer instructors tangible changes they can implement in their classrooms,” says Shaw. “We don’t want anyone to see EDI work as a monolith or a topic they can’t step into.”

CEE also facilitates peer support for those engaging with EDI work. This year’s programming will bring back two BIPOC and ally affinity group dialogues, which were some of the previous year’s most successful sessions. After initial workshops at Inclusion in the Classroom Week 2020, these two groups became recurring meetups throughout the year for instructors to establish a strong community network and share their learnings and experiences with one another.

“We want to make sure that not only are instructors supporting students who are maybe not feeling included in the classroom, but we want to make sure the instructors themselves feel that sense of support and belonging too,” says Chiang.

Join SFU's CEE for Inclusion in the Classroom Week, November 1-5:

For full workshop descriptions and registration information please visit Inclusion in the Classroom Week at the Centre for Educational Excellence website.