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How Can Teachers Create a Gender Expansive Environment?

NOTE: I hope to continue adding resources for teachers. First, story time! I'll never forget a particular moment in a class I taught recently. I was subbing at a local high school. Usually when I get booked for the day, I teach two classes in the morning and two after lunch. If there's a prep period on my schedule, I get asked to cover another class. Those pop-in classes feel more improvised.


During a prep period like that not too long ago, I was given a room number and asked to go cover the class. I remember I walked in among students who were already seated, said hello, logged in to the teacher's computer, and took attendance. I did my best to figure out who was who and tried not to mess up their names.


In the next few minutes, as I walked around the room handing out worksheets and checking in on students, I saw a head of long, brown hair to my left and asked the boy in front of me to please hand her a sheet too. The boy holding the extra worksheet looked to his right and blurted out, "She thinks you're a girl!"


In my rushing around at the start of class, I didn't pay enough attention. Not only was the student a boy, he was kind about my blunder. I felt bad about the mistake and apologized. I was embarrassed and probably babbling a bit. I hope I didn't make it worse! This is a moment I look back on.


I think about how it's important to normalize using inclusive, gender-neutral pronouns like they/them/their whenever gender isn't relevant to the conversation.


As teachers, we're navigating our students' evolving gender identities and the language around that. We're examining the gender stereotypes we grew up with. We're holding ourselves to the expectations of our profession with our students' well-being on our minds and hearts.


Here are other ideas by teachers, for teachers...


This video was shared by Edutopia on YouTube.






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