The Inclusion-Informed Classroom

Dear Social Workers,

Have you ever considered supporting various academic institutions in developing inclusion-informed classrooms? What does this mean?

I am currently serving on a diversity-related committee, and as I listened to the discussion during one of the meetings, I considered ... in order for students to experience an inclusive environment, the whole system (e.g., college, university, K-12 school) would need to change. All employees would need to be involved as everyone (at all levels) may have interactions with students. As a result, I shared the concept of an "Inclusion-Informed Campus."

This idea resulted from a key focus of many social workers, trauma-informed care. In other words, the concept, Inclusion-Informed Campus, was influenced by clinical works developed in response to trauma-informed care practices (Hardy, Locklear, & Crable, 2020). Systemic practices including forms of exclusion, oppression, and -isms experienced via a learning institution and broader society, can result in trauma responses. Therefore, implementing proactive provisions toward promoting inclusion-informed practices throughout educational systems can help promote student success and sense of belonging.

This idea further yielded from a leadership training workshop series me and a colleague, Dr. Summer Woodside, developed and implemented for support personnel in a K-12 school district. Our intention was the following:

"The series' objectives included promoting social workers’ understanding of and obligation to facilitating racial equity in schools, analyzing educational data through a racial equity lens, conceptualizing school social workers as influencers in addressing racial inequities in schools, and collaborating with school professionals of various disciplines to practice and implement evidence-based approaches for facilitating racial equity in schools ... [Hardy and Woodside] conducted five workshops that were developed based on state school social work practice standards, school systems data, scholarly literature, and social work values and ethics" (Woodside & Hardy, 2020).

Have you considered ways to promote inclusion in academic systems? Have you thought about innovative ways to promote inclusion-informed classrooms?

Hardy, V., Locklear, A., & Crable, A. (2020). Commercial sexual exploitation of adolescents: Gender-Specific and trauma-informed care implications. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 17(1).

Woodside, S. G., & Hardy, V. (2020). Facilitating racial equity: Evaluating a leadership workshop series for school social workers, International Journal of School Social Work, 5(1).


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