The power of inclusion...
Think about a time in your life when you felt excluded...How did it make you feel? I'm not sure there is a more emotionally crushing experience.
Now think of a time you felt included...How did it make you feel? I am not sure there is a more emotionally uplifting experience.
Quite the contrast. I was reminded of the power of inclusion a couple of weeks ago when 2 Einstein fellows, Danielle Taylor and Vida Trevino, presented professional development (PD) to our group on how to create an inclusive classroom. I was reminded that building a a classroom that is safe for students needs to be, at its very center, inclusive. Nothing works without it. As part of a recent interview, I had to design a 2-hour in-person PD for a special group of teachers. I included the lessons from Danielle and Vida because to build anything, you must first be inclusive. It caught the attention of the interviewer which led to a great conversation. (Fingers crossed on the job!)
I have been thinking a lot about times in my life where I have tried to include those around me. As an introvert, it's not always easy for me to reach out, so I am proud of the moments I have. Here are a few I am the most proud of:
Palo Alto, CA 1998 Having only been teaching physics for 1 year, I was accepted to attend Project PhysLab, a 3 week workshop for physics teachers. Once I got settled into the hotel, I was going to get something to eat across the street when I passed a half-open door with male voices talking about physics. I knocked and asked if they were here for the workshop. They were, we had lunch and as we were returning to the hotel, an airport van was dropping off Nancy- a physics teacher from NY whose suitcase was bigger than her. I asked her name and took off with her suitcase. (She was my roommate for the 3 weeks). She is one of my best friends and she married one of the guys with the half-open door.
West Fargo, ND 2016 I started standing outside my room between classes to greet my students with a very obnoxious GOOD MOORNING!! (if before noon) or HELLLLOOO!! (if after noon). Some student tried to ignore me, or pretend I didn't see them, but it meant more to the students then they let on. Often, my subs would tell me that students would go out to the hall and greet students when I was gone. Such a simple way to let people know they are welcome and you are glad they are there.
Kansas City, MO 2017 It worked for high school students, so why not AP Physics teachers? When the AP Physics grading started to get very big, I felt we were losing some of the personal connections. So I started waiting in the front entry area to give a big GOOD MOOORNING!! as readers walked through the doors. It made people feel like they were really part of something special.
Inclusion is an extremely powerful tool to build people up, and excluding people can be equally destructive. No matter if you are an extrovert or an introvert like me, you can reach out to make someone feel included. The simplest of gestures can make a world of difference.