Inclusion & Belonging - Challenge Map

Inclusion & Belonging

Inclusion & Belonging

The Challenge

Districts want schools to serve as safe spaces for students. Beyond eliminating threats of bullying, they feel responsible for providing students with a learning environment where they feel accepted and they know they belong. Educators are looking for strategies to support their students’ skill development in areas including empathy and citizenship, as students learn about the value of diversity. Finally, schools want to understand how to effectively teach students about respecting physical boundaries and using courteous language to maintain an inclusive community for all learners.

Challenge Stats


Middle school staff responded this challenge is widespread


Middle school staff responded this challenge is urgent

Ideas from the Field

  • In one school, the principal starts each day with 25 or so small medallions that are given to students who are modeling the kind of behavior around inclusion, social-emotional learning, and other priorities. This effort forces the principal to watch and engage students throughout the day, as well as reinforce the behaviors that will contribute to a stronger school climate.

In the Words of District Staff

Having limited access to students from home during the pandemic, students may start to feel disconnected. We need to continue to be creative in our approach to reach all children, not just those with internet access and devices.
District-level leader
Spring 2020

“More students of all different ethnicities and different backgrounds have been moving in [to our district]. And that brings with it it's own challenges of students getting to know other students who speak different languages, who have different accents, who look different, who eat different than my opinion that is the biggest challenge that our school has been facing. How to make three thousand students live together happily, and provide a safe space for them.”

“Our socioeconomic status for most folks is about the same, but I have zero racial diversity in my building. So, my kids don't yet know what [racial] diversity is, in a way that would allow them to build the skills of empathy… that's a challenge for us. How do we expose students to diversity in an effort to teach the key skills that we want them to have around equity?”


Safe and Inclusive Schools for All - From the ADL, this resource discusses what is meant by inclusion for all students and how schools must prioritize being inclusive on many levels—from policies to curriculum to school climate.

Every Student Matters: Cultivating Belonging in the Classroom - From Edutopia, this blog post offers five strategies that can help students feel a sense of belonging in the classroom.

Students' Sense of Belonging at School Is Important. It Starts With Teachers - From Education Week, this article discusses survey results that highlight how teachers struggle to address some barriers to belonging and the factors that contribute to a student’s sense of belonging in the classroom.

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