Author: GLE Team | Published on 1 May 2023
In this tip you are encouraged to take the time and regularly implement ways to understand the different needs of the learners in your class and find ways to help meet them. This is an important starting place for all teachers, not just teachers of English.
Who is in your classroom? How do they like to learn? What barriers do they face getting to your lessons? What are they finding easy/hard/enjoyable? Do they feel free to participate in the lesson? How do you know? The first step of becoming a more gender responsive educator is to find ways to begin to understand your learners' needs better.
Our learners have a right to learn safely in an environment that responds to their needs and there are many ways you can find out what these needs are. Create a list of questions (some examples you may want to use are included below) and put them to your learners. The types of needs will vary depending on the age, gender, experiences and background of your learners. Consider also physical, social, psychological, emotional, financial and academic needs where appropriate. You can create a survey (online or paper), you could ask small groups of learners or interview learners one at a time. It’s always good to explain to your learners that you want to understand their needs better to improve your teaching and their learning experiences, so they understand the ultimate purpose of answering the questions.
- Do male, female and gender fluid learners feel able to participate in lessons
- Do learners have restrictions on their mobility? If so, what are they?
- Do all learners feel able to approach the teacher with a challenge or issue?
- Do all learners feel equally encouraged to take part in lesson activities?
- What adaptations need to be made to the learning environment, timetable, lesson timings, activities ensure learners of all genders understand and participate meaningfully?
Create and finalise the questions to help you better understand learner needs. It is also important in this analysis to identify any gendered patterns –Are there issues that many girls are concerned about? Any trends around issues boys are concerned about? And same for learners of other genders? Create space in your timetable to share the purpose and questions with the learners. Make sure they know that although their responses will be studied and taken seriously, there may be limitations to how much you can change and how fast you can make changes but that the ultimate aim is to find ways to improve their learning experience. Being open and transparent in this process is very important.
Analyse and Respond
Examine the responses collected from asking learners to answer the questions you have developed. See what actions you can easily take to help support your learners' needs. Identify the actions you can easily take to support the learners. Determine which actions may require more planning, additional support or resources. Remember the aim is to collect information which helps you to identify learners' educational experiences, resources, vulnerabilities, gaps and challenges to upholding the right to education.