Navigating difficult dialogues in the classroom

Selective incivility or, behavioral manifestations of contemporary covert sexism and racism, may become apparent in classroom dialogues on current events, the current sociopolitical landscape, and a variety of other classroom topics. Selective incivility impacts minority populations, not only in its direct and immediate effects (e.g. distraction, sadness, anger, fear, confusion), but has also been associated with longer-term consequences such as disengagement, feelings of isolation, depression, and subsequent withdrawal from a workplace or, in college student populations, truancy and/or dropout (Lim, Cortina, & Magley, 2008). As leaders in the classroom, professors are well situated to explicitly notice and facilitate open dialogue when these situations arise. The purpose of this series of blog posts is to assist faculty in identifying the characteristics of incivility in order to promote an optimal learning environment for all students at VCU. Our aim is to provide recommendations for how to navigate incivility when it becomes apparent in the classroom.