Have you noticed students teasing other students in your class? Or students making jokes that may be subtle insults or racism, sexism, or homophobia expressed as compliments? These may be microaggressions.
Why do we care about microaggressions? They could cause students to disengage from the class, their classmates, and the discipline. People from marginalized groups can be subjected to frequent microaggressions from unaware individuals who don’t realize the results of their demeaning actions. Microaggressions can derail course goals and disrupt the teacher’s authority by making a joke for “good fun” at someone else’s expense.
Dealing with them is not about punishment or avoiding disagreements. It’s about helping students to see the viewpoints of others and to use disciplinary-specific ways of thinking. Further, leaving microaggressions unaddressed can have as much of a negative impact as the microaggression itself.
What microaggressions have you encountered in class? What was the underlying message and how did it make you feel? How do you deal with them? If you are not aware of any in your class, you might ask for anonymous feedback from your students to make sure the class environment is conducive to everyone’s learning. Let the commenting begin. If you would like to discuss any microaggressions you may be observing in your class or how to specifically address them for your particular situation, contact the CITL for a consultation.
CITL Faculty Spotlight | Cara Maffini – Creating Inclusive Classrooms
Interrupting Microaggresions. Kenney, G.
Recognizing Microaggressions and the Messages They Send (Adapted from Derald Wing Su)