Dear Linda: Inclusion, Access, Equity & Diversity

Dear Linda,

I am a new teacher completing my first year and I want to be sure I am providing lessons that include all students’ individual needs. How can I promote equity while remote learning?

Dear New Teacher,

Congratulations on your first year of teaching. What a memorable year. Even under normal circumstances a teacher’s first year can be a challenge. What you are going through is beyond words. You are not alone. You will be stronger, and you will have developed skills that will enhance your teaching ability for years to come.

I love your question. We must consider inclusion, equity, access and diversity (IAED) with every lesson activity we plan. To ensure equity, recognize what that is. Equity is one of those words like engagement; everyone seems to have their own definition. The Ohio State University (2009) says, “Equity in the classroom can be defined as:

“…giving students what they need. When teachers truly listen to students and respect in the classroom is mutual between teacher and student, a productive classroom can be formed. Teachers feel good about the lessons they teach and students are engaged in learning.”

When planning a lesson, always:

Ask students about the barriers they face.

Many of our students use a school issued device. Some have their own, while others are using their phones. Ask, “Do you have a reliable device? Do you have a printer?” Ask. “Do you have a quiet location, and are you able to work during the day?” Some have to babysit and assist siblings with their work in addition to completing their assignments.

Be flexible.

If a student does not have a printer, for example, work with them toward a solution. Think of alternatives. Get creative. Much of what we are doing remotely can be compared to Apollo 13. Imagine the astronauts as they floated in space while basically everything shut down around them. They developed solutions using the items they had on board the ship.

We are doing the same thing as CTE teachers. Consider what materials students have available and create lessons using those items. Ask the students what they need, what they have, and what constraints they may be facing. Be flexible to work within those parameters.

Provide user-friendly materials.

Ease of use is key. We are drawn to new books and engaging online formats but unfamiliar materials may lead to confusion. Often, the same simple document you would have used in your classroom will suffice. Don’t inadvertently cause more stress for yourself or your students. Focus on keeping things as normal as possible while the education landscape shifts around us all.

Maslow first, then Bloom

Teachers are taught Bloom’s taxonomy to scaffold from one lesson to another. While that is important, during this ‘new normal” we have to consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs first.

Physiological needs: Are they being met?

Safety: Is the student safe both emotionally and physically?

Love and belonging: What is happening socially? Are they completely isolated?

Esteem: Do they have support, reassurance?

Self-actualization: Is this their graduation year? How are they being recognized?

These are stressful times for all. I am proud of you, as a new teacher, for asking this question. All of us, new or seasoned teachers, need to carefully consider inclusion, access, equity and diversity. ACTE established an IAED advisory group to provide recommendations and support for CTE educators leading these efforts; learn more about the resources available and read the March edition of Techniques, which included several articles about IAED.

Consider a few additional resources; they have helped me with this topic:

Thank you as always for your questions.

With love and gratitude,

Linda Romano

Click here to submit your questions. Linda will have the answers.

Linda Romano is vice president of ACTE’s Health Science Education Division and a health science/nurse aide educator for Newburgh Enlarged City School District, where she has been a CTE teacher since 2006. In 2018, Romano was named ACTE’s Teacher of the Year. She also serves as president of the New York Health Science Educator Association.

Romano is an active registered nurse and serves in several volunteer capacities for her state of New York and within the local Newburgh Community/ Newburgh Armory Unity Center. In addition to mentoring new teachers, Linda Romano developed and leads a program called Scholars in Scrubs, which provides education, health and wellness, and opportunities for young people (pre-K to high school) and their parents/grandparents.

The Ohio State University, College of Education and Human Ecology. (2009). Creating an equitable classroom through establishing respect. Retrieved from
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