Shifting from Theory to Practice: Tools & Strategies to Implement Equity-Focused Teaching in Your Classroom

Principles of Equity-Focused Teaching

Click any of the below equity-focused teaching principles to learn more and see specific examples of how to implement various strategies within the classroom.

Purposeful Engagement of Difference

Acknowledging students’ different identities, experiences, strengths, needs, & leveraging student diversity as an asset for learning.

Using an equity-focused lens to think about purposeful engagement of difference means:

  • Actively learning about the social, political and economic conditions that shape students’ lives and learning.
  • Accounting for those systems and conditions by reconstructing what we consider ‘fair’ or ‘equal’ with equity-focused practices.
  • Identifying our teaching practices and institutional norms as contributing to and maintaining disparities; not seeing students’ identities as a problem to be solved or a barrier to overcome.
  • Rejecting a deficit model!

Structured Interactions

Providing or eliciting goals, protocols, & processes that support equitable access & contributions to interactive elements of the learning environment – & disrupt patterns that reinforce or reflect system inequities.

Using an equity-focused lens to think about structured interactions means:

  • Creating invitations and norms for participation that give students options for engagement.
  • Thinking ahead about how you might handle classroom dynamics that perpetuate systemic inequities and have a plan to address them.
  • Deliberately organizing student groups and teams in ways that actively disrupt systems of power and inequity.

Academic Belonging

Cultivating students’ sense of connection to the discipline & scholarly/professional communities.

Using an equity-focused lens to think about academic belonging means:

  • Actively learning about and addressing patterns of inequity that impact representation and a sense of belonging in your discipline.
  • Paying attention to participation patterns in your classroom and intentionally creating new pathways for students to contribute and engage.
  • Developing practices that validate prior knowledge as legitimate and necessary as opposed to additive.


Clearly communicating about norms, expectations, & evaluation criteria.

Using an equity-focused lens to think about transparency means:

  • Acknowledging and addressing the presence of hidden curricula that impact your course and student success.
  • Providing students with regular opportunities to share their experiences in the classroom and inviting them to give feedback.


Responding & adapting to students’ changing & diverse circumstances; engaging empathetically with student needs, both emerging & persistent; balancing intentional design & commitment to providing accommodations.

Using an equity-focused lens to think about flexibility means:

  • Being guided by your course learning goals as opposed to ‘tradition’ or ‘teaching habits’ so that you can adapt and shift as needed.
  • Providing choices that create clear and equitable pathways for students to engage in the learning environment.
  • Being attentive to the changing conditions within the university and the larger society and proactively sharing with students how you will adapt as new circumstances arise.

Download the Equity-Focused Teaching Principles handout Click here to download the PDF