Advancing Educational Equity: Tools and Resources for Educators

by Heather Nelson

Achieving educational equity means more than practicing equality in the classroom.

In equitable schools and classrooms, educators strive to give individual students what they need to succeed—whether that’s extra time, extra help, or different expectations. What one student needs might look different from their peer sitting next to them, but with educational equity, all students have access to the right resources for a successful outcome.

While equity in the classroom requires both systemic and individual changes, teachers and professors can start the work of supporting students of all backgrounds with the right tools and resources. Here’s what to know if you’re an educator at any level looking to advance equity.

Tools and Resources to Further Educational Equity

When it comes to ensuring an equitable classroom environment, teachers must learn and reflect from the inside (you) out (your classroom).

As Richard S. Martinez, EdD, executive director of the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence (CDEIE) at Azusa Pacific University, explained, “We emphasize personal reflection that can lead to collective action.”

To do this, Martinez—along with his colleague Mieke Plattner, program coordinator for CDEIE—recommended several ways teachers can grow from the inside out to best support students:

  • Read, Read, Read. Whether it be research-based books aimed at bringing equity into the classroom or journal articles and websites, immersing yourself in literature can give you a better understanding of the “whys” and “hows” of providing the diversity, equity, and inclusion students need. APU provides a list of diversity resources to get you started.
  • Learn Together. Martinez and Plattner encourage all teachers, whether working in K-12 schools or higher education, to join campus diversity efforts to connect with other like-minded diversity and equity allies. When learning together, you can grow in individual knowledge while moving your school or institution toward advancing equity.
  • Focus on the Takeaways. In the article “Fighting the Shadow Pandemic” published by Inside Higher Ed, B. Venkat Mani writes, “Inclusive teaching requires a constant unlearning of your own privileges as a professor in order to accommodate understanding of and compassion for students who might be less privileged, no matter what their visible differences might tell us.” When it comes to personal reflection, building more inclusivity and diversity from the inside out comes from facing the privilege you bring into the classroom—and harnessing it to see all of your students succeed.

Practical Resources Used at Azusa Pacific

At Azusa Pacific, the CDEIE uses a number of equity-minded tools and strategies in its Diversity Ambassadors Program. Several of these tools are provided here for you to reference and use in your own educational setting.

Student Success in College and Beyond

From kindergarten through graduate school, students require the proper opportunities, support, and tools to succeed in and outside the classroom. While much focus has been given to ensuring equity in K-12 settings, continuing to provide fair and equal opportunities in higher education is just as important.

Martinez points to an article, “How to Make Your Teaching More Inclusive” by Viji Sathy and Kelly Hogan, which states, “The changing demographics of higher education mean that students come to you with a wide variety of experiences, cultures, abilities, skills, and personalities. You have the opportunity to take that mix and produce a diverse set of thinkers and problem-solvers.”

College professors and elementary or secondary school teachers alike can use the tools they have at their disposal, particularly their school’s diversity centers and offices, to ensure they continue learning, growing, and creating equitable opportunities for the students entrusted to them.

Ultimately, creating a more equitable classroom is about empowering students. When educators ensure all students have what they need to learn, they get to watch their students succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Are you ready to work toward educational equity in your classroom? Visit Azusa Pacific University’s Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence, where you can find books, articles, videos, and more resources to start your learning today.