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

Elements of Equity-Focused Teaching (EfT)

Click any of the below equity-focused teaching (EfT) elements 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 Elements handout Click Here