Identity safe classrooms are those in which teachers strive to ensure students that their social identities are an asset rather than a barrier to success in the classroom. Acknowledging students’ identities, rather than trying to be colorblind, can build the foundation for strong positive relationships.
—Identity Safe Classrooms: Places to Belong & Learn
In spite of real and powerful social inequalities, identity safety is an antidote to negative stereotyping in our society and stereotype threat, the fear of confirming a negative stereotype. Research on stereotype threat shows that student behavior is impacted even by the worry that he or she may inadvertently confirm a negative stereotype. Improving school climate is critical when it comes to addressing bullying, according to the National School Climate Center.
We’re thrilled to share a new resource that brings these powerful ideas to all educators. Our Not In Our School director, Becki Cohn-Vargas, along with co-author Dr. Dorothy Steele, just published a new book, Identity Safe Classrooms: Places to Belong & Learn from Corwin Press. The book is full of real-life examples from teachers, including strategies for creating identify safe classrooms and schools.
Identity Safety & Not In Our School
Identify safety is directly linked to the Not In Our School goal of creating safe, inclusive and accepting classrooms. When classrooms are not identity safe, students from negatively stereotyped groups can feel a sense of stereotype threat—a sense of not belonging or being seen as capable students. In these classrooms, students may receive fewer opportunities to participate in challenging curriculum, share in the responsibility for the classroom or see themselves and people like them represented in the materials, learning activities and environment.
Research shows that students from all backgrounds in identity safe classrooms learn better, have higher achievement and like school more than their peers in other classrooms.
Authors: Dr. Dorothy Steele & NIOS Director Becki Cohn-Vargas
Becki Cohn-Vargas and Dorothy Steele worked closely together when Dr. Steele was the executive director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University and Dr. Cohn-Vargas was the Director of Elementary Education for Palo Alto Unified School District. Learn more about Identity Safety in Dr. Steele’s interview above.
Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas has long been a supporter of Not In Our School and joined our team as director in 2011, helping bring the Not In Our School message to the White House, the National PTA, the National Education Association, CNN, the Discovery Channel and thousands of students, parents and educators.
Get the Book
Find out more at identitysafeclassrooms.org and buy the book here.
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