The MN Faculty works for an inclusive and respectful learning environment for all students and employees. Here is how you can contribute.
We all need to feel part of a community to learn and to thrive. At the MN Faculty, we aim to create an environment for learning through clear and inclusive communication between all students and employees.
- Names are important. Learning and using the names of the students in your group or class is a good way to let them know that you see them and want to include them.
- Model behaviour. The way you act in front of students influences how they will act towards each other. If you single out individuals and make them feel stupid, students will do the same in group work, and this bullying will prevent learning. Your actions matter more than your words.
- Learning as a team. Give clear instructions on how you want the students to support and criticise each other, both in lectures and in seminars. Students who are repeatedly told to act and think as a supportive team will approach peer feedback and group dynamics differently compared to students who think of the group members as competitors.
- It's okay to be wrong. Making a mistake does not feel good, but mistakes are excellent opportunities for learning. Talk to your students about the value of recognising their own misunderstandings and practice ways of helping students accept failure as a step towards learning.
- Learning takes time. For some students, the most important learning takes much longer than a single semester. Deep learning, maturation and reflection on their own learning process require repeated experiences and challenges over a long time. Include your students in a long-term perspective on learning and development.
- Learning requires dialogue. Conversations are great for increasing knowledge and learning new skills. Not all conversations need to be spoken out loud with fellow students, but the learning can also take place as a student individually reflects on their own expanding knowledge. Students can benefit from learning to observe and describe their own learning process as an internal dialogue (a so-called meta-perspective).
- We value differences. Students come from all backgrounds, have different expectations and different starting points. This diversity is a strength and an opportunity to facilitate engaging conversations among students and employees.
- Life happens. Although an education is important for future job prospects, studying is not the most important thing in life. Students in your course may be sick, have lost close family members, find love, loose friends or suffer from depression. They may not tell you what is going on in their lives, but from time to time it will affect their work and their commitment to the course. Be compassionate and find compromises when necessary.
Working for an inclusive and supportive learning environment that simulates creativity and innovation among students requires hard work over a long time. You are not alone, and you are welcome to talk to your colleagues and your students about strategies and benefits of a good learning environment. Here are two suggestions: