5 Best of Resources to Build an Inclusive Classroom

America’s classrooms are more diverse than ever. To ensure that we are building schools that address biases and existing inequities, are inclusive to all students, and actively strive to be anti-racist, we’ve highlighted resources to help educators bring belonging into the classroom.

By Hana Beach

America’s classrooms are more diverse than ever. To ensure that we are building schools that address biases and existing inequities, are inclusive to all students, and actively strive to be anti-racist, we’ve highlighted resources to help educators bring belonging into the classroom. 

We all know that the best learning happens when students feel included and represented, when they relate to their coursework, and when they have strong relationships with peers and educators. In keeping with our summer “best of” series, we’ve compiled our top five resources around inclusivity to help educators create a classroom that helps all students thrive. 

Now, let’s get to work.

You can’t understand American history without a strong knowledge of Black history. 

Why It Matters: History is full of influential Black history-makers. They’ve led major movements and created ground-breaking innovations that have altered the course of American history. However, too often these influential leaders are left out of our history books. 

We must acknowledge and explore how Black history has shaped American history. That’s why we believe that all students should learn about Black history with fresh lesson plans that keep students engaged, including these interactive activities:

  • Analyze and create discussions around influential Black history quotes
  • Utilize relevant media to improve Black history lesson plans
  • Incorporate weekly classroom games on Black history

Extra Credit: 10 Inspiring Black History Month Activities for Students

We’d like to shout-out some of the Black educators who inspire us to be culturally responsive educators in and out of the classroom.  

Why It Matters: Amplifying influential Black educators’ voices in the classroom and educators’ classroom practice will help us rethink and reshape our curricula. 

Through Twitter, educators across the world are able to connect and engage with one another around issues of equity in the classroom. It’s important to learn from educators and students from all backgrounds to ensure your classroom is inclusive. Here are some steps you can take to help amplify BIPOC voices: 

Extra Credit: 25 Books by Black Authors – Black Writers You Need to Know

It’s time to listen to Black educators and create classroom environments devoted to building equity and inclusion.

Why It Matters: XQ Curriculum Writer and Designer Ann-Katherine Kimble reflects on how her experience as a Black educator pushed her to practice culturally responsive and relevant teaching and be an advocate for students of all backgrounds

Kimble emphasizes the importance of authentically teaching Black history, promoting student activism, and encouraging activities outside of the classroom. Here are some suggestions on how to practice culturally responsive and relevant teaching: 

  • Consider areas of growth in your curriculum on Black history that may be left out of history textbooks
  • Empower students of color to share their perspectives
  • Reflect on how diversity in your classroom impacts your teaching habits

Extra Credit: How to Start Meaningful Conversations About Race in the Classroom

Preparing students for the future means giving students the opportunity to create content with purpose through music, dance, and visual arts.

Why It Matters: Students need art and creativity in their lives—now more than ever. In a time when arts programs are undergoing budget cuts in high schools across America, it’s pivotal that we champion creative spaces for students to explore their artistic side freely.

That’s why XQ created the Arts and Activism Challenge series to help students grapple with big questions all while envisioning a better and more just future. Check out the gallery here

Extra Credit: Art and Activism Classroom Resources

School communities across the nation are looking to graduate from talk of representation and move towards building equity.

Why It Matters: Building diversity in education for diversity’s sake isn’t enough. While bringing more BIPOC teachers to the classroom is a great first step, we now need to be asking ourselves: how can we push for equity in our classrooms—and create tangible change?

Change looks like honest discussions where students and teachers can relate to one another because of shared identities and experiences. It looks like culturally relativist approaches to teaching that promote acceptance and understanding of cultures different from one’s own. It looks like facing our implicit biases and encouraging students to do the same.

Together, we can all create change by building more diversity in education:

  • Bring in guest speakers from different cultural backgrounds to share their stories and experiences
  • Create lesson plans that feature BIPOC voices to help students understand and reflect upon others’ perspectives as well as their own

Extra Credit: Tips for Making Classrooms More Inclusive

Did you know that education in America is at an inflection point? President Biden recently signed the American Rescue Plan and made a historic investment in American education. Want to learn more about what this means, how much money is coming to your state, and how you can get involved and participate in rethinking high school? Check out XQ’s hub on all things ARP at Choose High School Now.