Monday, August 26, 2019

Pronouns, Early Term Simple Survey

Many thanks to the NSF PRODUCT team for bringing this up in an email discussion! This short post is on pronouns, and a result of that discussion. These are not my ideas, and I'm sharing the main ideas from that discussion.

Pronouns matter, and it makes a difference if we ask students to tell us their pronouns without assuming what they are. Why does this matter? Here's a quote from

"Often, people make assumptions about the gender of another person based on the person’s appearance or name. These assumptions aren’t always correct, and the act of making an assumption (even if correct) sends a potentially harmful message -- that people have to look a certain way to demonstrate the gender that they are or are not."

One way to get this information is to ask. And while you're asking, you might as well find out what they preferred to be called and what might help them succeed.
  1. Your name____ (and email optional)
  2. Please call me by this name (please add a phonetic pronunciation, if people often pronounce your name incorrectly) _____ 
  3. Please use these pronouns for me (don't want to share this? no problem; not sure what this means? read about pronouns here: ____
  4. For me to be successful in this class, I need you to know that ____
Working towards an equitable classroom is an important consideration today (as the 4th pillar of IBL), and we should be more conscious of the issues and be action oriented. The last question on what would help students succeed can help you understand specific needs right at the start of the term, which can make a significant difference for student success.

One more thing. I put "he/him/his" in my email signature. An easy and impactful thing to do.

In short, I learned not to assume. I learned that we should simply ask and share with our students why we are asking, since they may need to learn as well.