Amrita Das, Diversity Facilitator
It gives me immense pride to be associated with Wendy Maat and the International Office’s cutting-edge workshop called the “Mixed Classroom in Practice”. The program provides a hands-on, bottom-up approach to pedagogical diversity training.
We have teachers from varied backgrounds share their experiences with the mixed classroom. There is learning through articles and best practices, exchange of knowledge, and active learning exercises. The sessions permit the participants to align their learning activity to their own teaching style and goals.
Our teachers have discussed varied impediments emerging from their diverse classrooms. These have included topics, such as: rapid influx of international students, divergent expectations of grading, issues with language use in the classroom, and integration challenges of short-term exchange students. In unpacking these matters, within the safe environment of the workshop, several innovative solutions have been developed, and put into practice. We have seen the organization of seminars for students, establishment of inclusive curriculums, course descriptions, and evaluations, along with Faculty-wide undertakings to create inclusive environments.
The solutions devised have been wide-ranging, depending on time, budget, and feasibility, amongst other factors. We have seen elaborate meticulously planned off-sites, for instance, a boat trip visiting the Wadden Islands with activities for getting to know everyone. To simple, but efficient “quick and dirty assessments”, to collate student feedback.
The atmosphere at the workshop is greatly stimulating. It gives me tremendous satisfaction to see the evolution of an intervention design; from being an idea to a viable project, and finally, in ensuring that we all feel a sense of belonging. The best part of the program is the help and support the participants continue to receive from the facilitators, long after the sessions are over. Thereby, establishing that inclusive culture is an important, on-going, and dynamic process.