“Your Voice Matters”: A Good Message for Inclusion in the Classroom

I saw a lot of photos of friends’ children as they began their first day of school on social media last week. Here’s a photo of a slightly different kind.

The sign above is posted on the classroom door of a friend of mine who teaches kids in New York City. I found it to be so moving that I just had to share it here.

School can be a challenging place, and in addition to navigating school academically and socially, some students may also face tremendous environmental challenges outside of school that can impact their overall experience.

dontbelong4Issues like bullying, differences in socioeconomic status, unexamined implicit bias on the part of teachers, and students that steers black children and other children of color closer and closer to prison, unsafe spaces for LGBTQ students, and a variety of other issues point to the necessity of an institutional examination of the ways in which people from marginalized populations are perceived, and an institutional shift in the policies that are carried out which are informed by those perceptions.

There’s enough personal work to go around, and students and teachers can also work on their own perceptions about each other with each other, and between each other.

I think messages like the one on my friend’s sign can go a long way towards establishing a good foundation for relationships between teachers and students. Furthermore, it can be a good way to begin communicating a message of belonging to students who may have every reason to feel that they are expendable, and that no one cares really for them.

“Take off your shoes & stay awhile. This place is HOME. Here, your voice matters. Here, you are a part of something special, and it is only special because YOU are here. “—Katie Vitale


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW, LLMSW



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I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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