Tips for supporting belonging

We all have a part to play, however small. Which of these tips will you integrate into your day? 

  1. Use individuals’ names as much as possible, check preferred name, pronunciation and pronouns. Consider introducing yourself with your pronouns to set a tone of inclusivity, tell students your name. If meeting a group for the first time maybe share a nickname you like and a nickname you used to hate growing up or a funny pronunciation of your name to break the ice. Leave time for students to do this too. If activities like this feel authentic for you they can be a fun and safe way of getting everyone to share and connect.
  2. Show awareness of diversity and talk openly about different student characteristics, such as commuters, carers, and mature students. If you feel comfortable refer, where appropriate, to your own journey (e.g. perhaps you were the first-in-family to attend university). Your words and actions can create, in that moment, a micro-environment of inclusivity. These small acts let it be known that this is a safe environment where difference is embraced, respected, and celebrated. 
  3. If interacting online, encourage others to leave cameras on as much as possible in online contexts – familiar faces count. If students don’t want to put their camera on in the main group that’s okay; encourage students to put camera on in break out rooms. Making sure students know how to blur or upload backgrounds or add a profile image can also build confidence in ‘being visually present’ during online sessions. 
  4. Share information about your own life if this feels comfortable and authentic for you – let your personality shine through, share jokes, create a fun environment with how you conduct yourselfthis can create an environment where connections can be made. Students appreciate relaxed and open staff members, especially ones who take the time to make interactions personal, purposeful and meaningful. 
  5. Offer a range of times when students know they can contact you – use out of office announcements to signpost students to support services including out of hours support.