3 Strategies for Equitable and Inclusive Teaching

Want to know a secret? Although I’ve been asked to give talks and lead workshops on topics related to teaching, I haven’t taught a course since Spring 2020!

All the pedagogy-related public-facing work that I’ve done over the last two and a half years has been based largely on four things.

First, I’ve reflected a lot on my own teaching (and learning) experiences. You can find some of those reflections in posts I’ve rounded up here.

Second, I’ve heard a lot from my peers about the courses they’re teaching. Sometimes, I’ve even offered advice based on my own experiences teaching those same courses.

Third, since I’m almost always on Twitter, I get a lot of inspiration from discussions of teaching on social media.

And, finally, I (try to) read a lot. Some books I’ve shelved over the years include Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses by L.D. Fink and Start Here, Start Now by L. Kleinrock.

All this reflecting and researching over the years, however, has (finally!) led to this moment. In the fall I will be back in the classroom as I begin my tenure-track position. This means that I can now practice what I preach – and have been preaching for years.

In this week’s post, I’m highlighting some of the ways that I am planning to make my courses equitable and inclusive of all students. Clearly, I haven’t had a chance to test these approaches yet, so you can take them with a grain of salt. But I think that they reflect my overarching teaching philosophy well.

Laptop screen displaying a Word document and a powerpoint presentation
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Rubrics: The Ultimate Tool for Efficient and Equitable Grading

A month ago, I participated in the Presenting the Past Colloquium organized by Peopling the Past. The colloquium was held in Vancouver, British Columbia from March 23-25, 2023. The day before the colloquium started, I was also asked to organize a workshop on some topic related to pedagogy for the Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies (AMNE) department at the University of British Columbia. The topic I chose was rubrics.

Black hand holding pamphlet that reads "Presenting the Past: Responsible Engagement & Mediterranean History" in front of an urban landscape.

In all honesty, I’ve never been the instructor of record for a course before. Therefore, I rarely had any agency over the grading scheme used in those courses.

As a graduate student I was a teaching assistant for five courses and only two incorporated rubrics. In this week’s post, I want to reflect on my experience with rubrics; how rubrics fit into my overall teaching philosophy; and some of the major takeaways from the workshop I facilitated at UBC.

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The Ultimate Checklist for Funding Applications

I think we can all agree that January is the Monday of the year. It didn’t really hit me until I started grad school and realized that there are a lot of things that happen in January. The biggest thing: funding application deadlines.

Image of one research trip that I was able to go on because of a successful funding application

January Application Deadlines

In case you don’t believe me, I have pulled from my masterpost of funding opportunities for BIPOC in Classics all of the ones that have deadlines in January. They are:

Helen Maria Chesnutt Scholarship for Equity in Classical Study. This scholarship is intended to support undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups to further their study of the Classics and Ancient Mediterranean world and not excluding reception studies. (15 January 2022)

William Sanders Scarborough Fellowship (ASCSA). This fellowship provides support for graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars in North America whose diverse experiences and backgrounds are underrepresented at the American School, and whose studies, research, or teaching would benefit from residency at the School. (15 January 2022)

Point Scholarship. The Point Foundation (Point) is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students of merit. Point Foundation considers many factors when assessing scholarship applicants, including academic performance, leadership skills, financial need, personal goals and the applicant’s involvement in the LGBTQ community. (26 January 2022)

Rudolph Masciantonio CAMWS Diversity Award (CAMWS). Awardees will be those whom the profession or life circumstances or  societal structures have limited in their access to the study of our field. Awarded each year to one undergraduate and one graduate student. (31 January 2022)

Historically Underrepresented Groups Scholarship. The Historically Underrepresented Groups Scholarship (HUGS) intends to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities obtaining degrees in archaeology. Graduate and undergraduate students.  (31 January 2022)

Native American Scholarships Fund (NASF). An endowment established to foster a sense of shared purpose and positive interaction between archaeologists and Native Americans. It supports the Arthur C. Parker Scholarship for Archaeological Training for Native Americans and the SAA Native American Undergraduate and Graduate Archaeology Scholarships. Undergraduate and graduate student funding. (31 January 2022)

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I Was on a Podcast! (+ 3 Tips For First-Time Podcast Guests)

Say “I” if you hate the sound of your own voice.

Usually, I would be right there with you.

After giving myself a solid pep talk, I finally sat down and listened to the latest episode of Proofing and Lies – featuring me – and guess what? I loved it!

It felt almost like reliving the whole experience of being interviewed all over again.

In the episode I talk about my dissertation research on pottery and drinking in ancient Greece, my experiences doing archaeological fieldwork, and why I started this blog.

If these are topics you want to hear more about, check out the episode!

If I’m being totally honest, being invited to give an interview for a podcast was both exciting and totally scary for me.

As I mention in the interview, I’m a pretty big introvert. On top of that, I usually avoid talking about my work like the plague.

I was nervous up until about ten minutes before the interview.

But I was calmed by two things. First, the fact that it really was just like a conversation (and the host was super nice). Second, remembering all of the advice I received when I asked folks on Twitter to help me out.

Here are the three pieces of advice that helped me the most:

https://twitter.com/KandakaSolange/status/1450221588515786752

This one was SO helpful.

Not just for trying to anticipate what topics would come up, but also for making sure I had some relevant examples on hand when they did.

I did ask about editing ahead of time, but in the end I don’t think anything (or very much besides an extra long pause I took when I needed to think) was edited out.

It honestly didn’t even occur to me to ask in the moment.

But this is definitely something worth keeping in mind!

I had water by me, even though I only took one sip the entire conversation.

I don’t know if I remembered to smile while I was speaking, but I was doing a lot of gesticulation (because that’s just what happens when I get excited). Close enough?

Proofing and Lies

Proofing and Lies is a podcast hosted by Elle Rochford and Andrew Schriver. In each episode the co-hosts talk about current events and take on a new baking project.

Want to check out the episode I’m featured in? It’s currently available on both Apple and Spotify!

https://twitter.com/ProofingL/status/1472982702764793871

Latest Posts

The Power of ‘I Don’t Know’

A few months ago, I described what scholars of the ancient world needed to sacrifice to make the field more inclusive and equitable. One of those things was feeling the need to be an expert in everything.

It’s not easy for any of us to admit when we don’t know the answer to something. Part of this hesitation, I think, stems from the high-pressure, high-stakes structure of our graduate education. 

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3 Steps to Implementing Antiracist Pedagogy (ARP)

I have talked about antiracist teaching on here in the past. This week I want to delve deeper into why I think antiracist pedagogy (ARP) is important and some ways that we can implement it in our classrooms.

I’ve always been skeptical of diversity and inclusion initiatives that include offering more courses that might ‘appeal’ to people of color and draw them in. This manifests as offering or amplifying existing courses on ‘race and ethnicity,’ on ‘slavery in the ancient world,’ and on the relationship between ‘barbarians’ and Greeks and/or Romans.

In the absence of more structural reforms, I have always viewed such an approach as a trap. 

Courses on these topics are absolutely necessary (although certain choices in vocabulary are not) for exposing students to alternate perspectives, ones which both challenge and complement dominant narratives about the ancient world. Without such perspectives, our understanding of the ancient world would be incomplete.

However, when implemented poorly, these courses reflect a persistent two-part illusion. 

Plastic vases from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens
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5 Things We Need to Sacrifice in Classical Studies

I recently saw a Tweet that emphasized the true purpose of anti-racism work: repair, restoration, and sacrifice where necessary. 

The third element – sacrifice – particularly struck me, especially as I was trying to think of what this week’s blog post would be about. It put the ongoing debates about the vitality of the field of Classics into a new perspective.

Those who have argued for ‘burning it all down’ know what it would mean to make sacrifices for the betterment of the discipline; those who oppose and criticize the idea of reforming Classics are simply afraid of a little discomfort. They would rather see a discipline rife with problems continue to thrive than sacrifice some things in order to at least begin to solve those problems. 

This makes me think of Reni Eddo-Lodge’s concept of ‘fear of a black planet’ — the fear that by giving black people any power at all, the cultural hierarchy would be inverted and white people would be completely powerless and oppressed. (A similar concern was raised about the term ‘intersectionality‘. Do I sense a theme?)

What would the equivalent be for Classics? Fear of a BIPOC discipline?

I’d like to say that this is only characteristic of the old, white, tenured contingency of the discipline, but that just isn’t the case. We all need to make sacrifices, some much bigger than others, if we want to make progress in making Classics an anti-racist discipline.

Books that are staples in the field of Classical Studies
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Burnout is Different for BIPOC

I bet we’ve all heard at least once in the past year that “your worth isn’t tied to your productivity.” The idea is that you shouldn’t let your work consume you to the point of burnout, which negatively affects all aspects of your health. 

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.

It’s easy to say that “your worth isn’t tied to your productivity,” but much, much harder to put that idea into practice

This is especially true when we’re inundated daily with posts on social media that make us feel like we aren’t doing enough, even when we feel good about the (quality and quantity of) work we’re doing.

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Doing Anti-Racism Work the SMART Way

As I mentioned earlier this week on Instagram, despite the fact that spring is (finally!) right around the corner, we continue to be deeply entangled with our screens – from working from home, to doom-scrolling on social media, to organizing and attending virtual events as part of our anti-racism work. 

Spring is just around the corner

While so many of us have been keeping up the momentum for nearly a year, there are others who no longer have the bandwidth to continue actively being allies for their BIPOC friends and colleagues.

I get it. This work is exhausting; it takes a lot out of you. But the work is not done just because you are.

So, how might we begin our anti-racism work anew and combat the fatigue – Zoom fatigue, decision fatigue, or otherwise?

The solution: re-framing our approach to anti-racism work using a SMART goal setting framework. 

This approach has already helped me make progress on my dissertation, so why shouldn’t it be useful for making our anti-racism work more realistic and easily attainable?

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