Author: British Council | Published 1 December 2022


Look at each of the questions in turn. Think carefully about how they relate to your own training experiences. Then click on each box to see tips, advice, guidance and further information.

1. Think about training you have participated in or conducted. How did you show all teachers that you respected them all equally?

In a diverse group, it is difficult to treat all teachers in exactly the same way all of the time. Some teachers need more of your time as they may be shy or insecure. Some may be very independent and not need individual interaction; some are not comfortable interacting with you one-on-one, etc. However, it is important that you treat them all fairly and with respect, even if you do not treat them in exactly the same way.

2. What do you need to know about your trainees to be fair and respectful to all?

Where possible, find out as much about your trainees as you can before the training, and at the start of the training. This can help you plan and deliver activities which are fair to all groups, and also help you plan groupwork more effectively. Try to discover:

  • the range of ages
  • the gender balance 
  • the different cultural groups
  • the different languages spoken, and the level
  • the different positions of the trainees in their school 
  • the range of teaching experience

3. What do you need to know about yourself in order to be fair and respectful to all?

We all have our own biases, even if they are hidden. We need to be aware of this when we are planning and delivering training. For example, are you more comfortable working with younger teachers? If so, how can you make sure to include older teachers?  Are you impatient with teachers who are too shy or even too lazy to participate fully? How do you put aside your feelings and help them to get involved? Don’t be ashamed of these biases as most people have them. Think about how you can overcome them so that the training is fair and respectful to all. 

4. What groups of people are often treated unfairly or without respect in training? How can you correct this?

Depending on who is in your group, use a combination of these different strategies to make your training fair and respectful to groups who are often marginalised: 

Female teachers: 

  • Make sure you use inclusive language. Avoid using masculine pronouns for both males and females. Use gender-neutral language (e.g. chair not chairman, business person not businessman). 
  • Ask equal numbers of men and women to answer questions

New or inexperienced teachers:

  • Give new teachers opportunities to share their ideas.  
  • Ask them to explain what they learnt at college or university which relates to the topics.
  • Choose them to answer questions when possible.

Teachers from non-dominant cultures / ethnic groups:

  • Include examples from different cultures when presenting materials. This could include pictures, names, stories and case studies.
  • Remember that some of the materials you may be using may marginalise these groups – you can critique this in the session and make participants aware of this

Older teachers who have not been exposed to modern methods:

  • Explain new teaching methods thoroughly and check / re-check their understanding so that these teachers are not left behind.
  • Assure them that their experience is valuable and that they are valued by you and the profession.
  • Ask them to suggest ways to adapt their existing methods to new ways of doing things.
  • Say that one of the signs of a good teacher is to be willing to change with the times. 

Teachers whose language level in the language of teaching is low:

  • Use a variety of methods to explain ideas rather than simply using “chalk and talk.” You can use practical activities, role-play, discussion, group work, etc, so that the teachers do not have to learn from listening.
  • Make sure the texts you use are simple enough for the teachers to read.  Add diagrams, pictures and labels to text to make it simpler.  
  • Include activities that teach the teachers how to read and understand texts.
  • Allow use of other languages in training where appropriate. 

5. What challenges are there in creating a training environment that is fair and respectful to all? What could you do, and what could you say to participants, to minimise these issues?

There may be times when despite all your efforts, some teachers may think you are being unfair or disrespectful. 

Some challenges might be:

  • A small group of teachers may talk amongst themselves, disrupting others during the session. When you develop the training norms at the start, one could be ‘no side talk’ or ‘listen to all contributions’. A hand signal that you are waiting for everyone’s attention is a useful strategy. This way you don’t have to treat the disruptive trainees as though they are children.
  • A strong or dominant individual may disagree with something you (or another teacher) have said and argues with you. Keep calm and show that you are interested in their point of view, but don’t allow them to take over the session. That is unfair to everyone else. You can suggest that they continue the conversation with you at a break.
  • Someone from a religious group may feel disrespected if you don’t pray or meditate at the start or end of a day, while another person may feel upset if you do. Right at the beginning, discuss how you will start the day and reach a decision as a group.  Where possible, accommodate all the different requests.
  • You may find that some teachers don’t respond, whatever you try. There may be reasons for this which you cannot do anything about. Remain calm, and continue with the training. 

What changes are you going to make in your training sessions to make them fair?

This is up to you! Being fair and respectful starts with you. You need to model the behaviour which you want to see in your group.

See also