Implementing Inclusion Practices Outside of the Classroom to Improve Inclusion in the Classroom

In Brief

3-Minute Read

Research shows a correlation between student success and a student’s perception of diversity of inclusion that is hard to ignore. This is especially prominent in the formative years of elementary-level education. While diversity, equity and inclusion are often talked about in terms of classroom practices, factors outside of the classroom have a direct influence on how students experience inclusion.

Key Takeaways

  • There is a correlation between student success and perception of inclusion.

  • Leaders can use an organizational assessment to implement changes at the system level that promote greater diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • The sequence of change in an organization begins with shifting the mindset and then changing action and behavior.

From Inclusive Thinking to Inclusive Actions

Education leaders in K12 are focused more than ever on creating an inclusive environment that supports all students in their journey to success. True diversity, equity and inclusion starts with representation and action at all levels. To lead change in schools where the perception of equity is low, leaders must first shift the mindset of the institution and then turn thinking into tangible action.

Assess the Current State

Organizational change happens when the people in organization change and grow. As the change agents, education leaders must model what the change looks like with their teams. To do so, they must first assess where the gaps exist and how ready the organization is for change. Begin by asking five questions:

Does our decision-making table (hiring, curriculum decisions, operations, etc.) have representation from all the demographics that we employ and/or serve?

This answer reveals whether there is shared leadership in decision-making.

In what areas are we collecting demographic information? Do we collect data beyond what is required?

This question focuses on where processes are taking place such as admissions applications, standard forms, etc.

Are we cultivating a sense of belonging?

Here, leaders scan the environment and discuss what is being done to build community.

Have we integrated diversity and inclusion into job descriptions and the roles/responsibilities of team members?

This assesses readiness for integrated action.

Are we engaging department and classroom leaders in active and regular conversations related to diversity and inclusion?

This question digs into advocacy and the representation at various levels of the organization.

Chart a Path for Change

These questions, when answered honestly and in consideration of all perspectives on the team, provide a solid starting point for organizational transformation. This allows leaders to chart a path to change by first addressing gaps in institutional practices and using those changes to inspire action in others. It also take a systemic look at the operational barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion that ultimately impact the ways in which schools serve students and families.


For education leaders to have a lasting impact on diversity, equity and inclusion, they must:
  • Think differently.
    Recognize that to have a lasting impact on diversity, equity and inclusion in the classroom, education leaders must assess the practices in the system that foster and support an inclusive culture.
  • Plan differently.
    Use an organizational assessment to design a plan for that will meet people in the organization at their readiness level and help them through the change.
  • Act differently.
    Leaders who foster a culture of inclusion in their operational practices model the value of diversity for all department and classroom employees.

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