Loveland Classical Schools
Rachel Cunning earned her B.A. in English with a Minor in Classical Antiquity from the University of Kansas where she also received her M.S.Ed focusing on Second Language Acquisition. She is the author of “Engendering Inclusivity in a Language Class” on Teaching Tolerance and Cupido et Psyche: A Latin Novella, a novella written for advanced Latin students. She has worked on the Kansas Assessment Program developing English Language Arts summative assessments for Kansas in grades 3-10. She has diverse teaching experience from the elementary to the university level, including English, English as a Second Language, and Latin. She will be joining Loveland Classical Schools this fall as a Latin teacher. When she is not reading or writing, she is usually covered in dirt from her garden or backpacking in national parks where she is both reading and covered in dirt.
Be the One: Cultivating an Inclusive Classroom
Language teachers are in a unique, though precarious, position to address issues related to gender and inclusivity in their classrooms. Language teachers must grapple with gendered language from the very first day of class as they use masculine or feminine nouns and adjectives to address and describe their students. This can create a minefield of gendered language that can act as emotional triggers for vulnerable student populations. Transgender and non-binary students are often at an increased risk of bullying, self-harm, substance abuse, and suicide. Emotional triggers can include the use of dead names and incorrect pronouns in any language, but the nature of a world-language classroom adds an additional level of grammatical and cultural complexity to making all students feel comfortable. As teachers, our goal should be to not only teach the nuts and bolts of language to our students, but also to be there for them. Attendees will hear the presenter’s personal anecdotes, including about hate crimes and her burgeoning awareness of issues related to transgender and non-binary youth, while hearing the hard facts and research related transgender youth as well as research on how gender affects our perception of the world. Attendees will also hear practical classroom activities and suggestions to take back to their own schools or universities so they can continue to cultivate a climate that welcomes and accepts all students.