If you want to develop pedagogical practices that transform controversy into moral conversations, you will need to spend some time reflecting on your own physically abled, class, gendered, ethnic, racial, political positionalities and your own approach to conflict.
• Understand that your own reaction/approach to conflict is your primary pedagogical tool.
• Recognize your own unexamined assumptions surrounding difference.
• Interrogate your own need to be “right.”
• Recognize your own “hot button” topics.
• Understand that difficult dialogues are not designed to change minds.
• Recognize that the primary goal of a difficult dialogue is to develop a more nuanced understanding of why we hold different positions.
• Identify your own fears surrounding difficult dialogues (i.e., loss of control, being viewed as less competent, loss of authority, and teaching evaluations/promotions.)
• Seek more training in the facilitation of classroom difficult dialogues.
• Prior to each class, take a few moments to reflect on your own emotional state of being.
Difficult Dialogues Resources and References
Social Identity Worksheet, The University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. Building Blocks for Teaching Diversity including a self- assessment tool for understanding social, class, gendered, ethnic positionality.
Inclusive Practices for Managing Controversial Issues, The University of Queensland, Australia, Strategies and tips for managing controversial issues in teaching including a self-reflective review that could be used to assess classroom climate and instructor preparation
Guidelines for Discussion of Racial Conflict and the Language of Hate, Bias, and Discrimination, University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, More extensive list and explanation of norms