Author: GLE Team | Published on 1 October 2023
It is important to understand that we all have biases and many of them are unconscious. The interactions that happen in our classroom reflect these biases whether we want them to or not. This tip will help you reflect on the interactions you may have in your classroom with learners in order to take action if necessary, to help make your learning environment more gender responsive.
Stage 1: Identify the interactions that occur
First reflect on what types of interactions take place between you and your learners. How do you invite learners of different genders to respond or discuss in your classroom? How often? Who speaks the most and the least? Are your interactions and expectations consistent across all learners regardless of their gender? Do you have learners in the room that need a lot of encouragement to interact with you? Which voice or voices dominate the classroom? Where is the attention of the learners drawn to the most? All of these questions can help you identify the interactions that occur in the room during your lessons. Look at your lesson plans and try to identify when the reactions take place, how and with who.
Stage 2: Peer Observation
To support you in identifying the key interactions in your classroom, ask a colleague to observe a lesson or part of a lesson and help you to answer some of the questions in stage 1 of this teaching tip. You may also want them to answer some other questions like the one below or create some more of your own:
- What is communicated nonverbally through interactions?
- Are any learners dominating the interactions? Who is dominating? Is the domination linked to their gender?
- How are reluctant learners encouraged to interact?
- Who receives feedback and how?
- What is the level of eye contact in interactions?
- Who is invited to give examples or ideas?
Stage 3: Reflect and Respond
You can choose to reflect on the answers to the questions and observations alone or with the colleague who observed you. Identify any issues and gendered patterns highlighted in this process and plan next steps to help you address them. Also celebrate the successes identified about your interactions and think about how you can maintain and build on these.
- All learners should be called on to ensure a balance of voices from all genders.
- Questions should be asked evenly to learners of all genders.
- Classroom support and feedback should be provided fairly to learners of all genders.
- Learners of all genders should be invited to present, share and offer ideas.
- Educators should carefully and inclusively respond to and explore gender beliefs, biases and norms with all learners.
- Ensure equal and fair participation of all learners.