It is important to have a range of relevant professional development opportunities for vocational trainers and practitioners in areas such as: diversity, equity and inclusion. Equally important is having a commitment from the sector’s leaders, including managers and training designers, to take the conversation on diversity and equity out of the PD space and bring these practices into a holistic approach to training and assessment strategies.
Andrea DiMatteo (from DiMatteo Consulting) listed four key areas that can help bridge the gap between learning and putting that knowledge into practice: curiosity, disruption, safety and repetition. Let’s introduce those areas!
Diversity, equity and inclusion are three areas experiencing rapid evolution. When approaching learning in these areas we must focus on the intrinsic “positive intent” of such PD events. To build the bridge between knowledge and practice, we have to examine intentions with a lens of positivity and curiosity. Exposing our trainers to different people and cultures, helps strengthen their ability to empathise and ask good questions about learning needs. From this information, trainers can design potential new supporting mechanisms to be incorporated into their training practices.
Our minds work overtime trying to understand everything. We hear bias terminology being used regularly in the news and social media feeds. Bias education has become an integral part of the overall approach. We need to learn and understand the terminology and become aware of how it applies to each of us.
To do this, we need to slow our impulses and reaction time and ask our selves, “What else could be true?” This small question unlocks our ability to disrupt the process of acting on a perceived situation and opens alternatives.
Practising inclusive learning requires empathy. We must look at a situation through others’ experiences or perspectives.
Using language as a communication tool must reflect diversity. We have to be ready to avoid patterns of behaviour and language, disrupt automatic responses with practice and create new neutral pathways that better connect with people who have different backgrounds and needs.
Having a psychologically safe environment to learn and to practice is paramount. We need to reinforce the basic principles of:
- Learning from mistakes
- Allowing practice
- Creating space for others.
But safety also means incorporating positive feedback during the learning experience, which supports inclusion. And, we should acknowledge we will all mess up as we move to practice new skills. If you make a mistake or say something wrong or inappropriate, acknowledge it and apologise. Next, try again!
Allowing physical, emotional and mental space for others to be present is important in any training strategy. This means understanding our students’ individual needs and being aware of their journey.
Unlearning and relearning some old behaviour patterns takes time and repetition. A simple example is when we approach an audience with “Hi, guys.” This can lead to unintentionally making others feeling excluded or offended. As educational practitioners we must actively work to use inclusive language like “Hi, everyone.”
Cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture within the learning environment will take a lot more than the steps listed above, but I think it is a good way to start the week focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion.