Maha Bali, Associate Professor of Practice, lead the Center for Learning and Teaching special workshop “ Tips for Inclusive Teaching” on Oct. 29 at The American University in Cairo.
Bali started the discussion with a video in order to give the professors background information about the topic, then she asked them to openly share their opinions about the topic.
“All of us are educators and teachers in some way,” said Bali in the beginning of the discussion.
The workshop was basically about professors sharing the issues that they experienced in teaching which makes the discussion beneficial to all of them. The thing is that while sharing their ideas, professors discovered that the language barrier is one of the common issues that most of them face. “I came to this workshop because I feel like there are few students in my classes who have been excluded because of their inability to speak and write in English well,” said Jehane Abdel Barry, instructor in the Department of Rhetoric and Composition.
Hanan Mostafa, instructor in the Arabic Language institute, said that she faces the same issue, but on a different level as she teaches Arabic as a foreign language which highlights that the problem is not just about the English language, but also other languages. Some of the professors said that they deal with this issue by allowing students to participate in Arabic sometimes in class, regardless of the fact that it is not officially accepted in the university.
At the end of this session attendees became more aware of the way in which they can encourage students to participate. “Students have different knowledge and different needs, we may have to treat them differently in order to be equitable,” said Catarina Belo, Associate professor in Philosophy Department.
Lastly, the workshop succeeded in clarifying the definition of inclusivity in learning. “I can now see that inclusivity means many things, and I had this fixed idea that it all about dealing with nationalities who weren’t Egyptians,” said Richard Bayford, a senior lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric and Composition. Due to the effectiveness of the workshop and that the issues that were discussed were very critical to the attendees to the extent that the time was not enough for them to tackle all the difficulties that they face, Bali offered further help in her office.