Advocating for inclusive and equitable learning environments

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Thu Nov 30 2023

Author: Guest contributor

In honor of the International Day of the Girl Child (October 11th) and UN’s Global Media and Information Literacy Week (October 24th-31st) we are highlighting the expertise and experience of a few of our authors whose own research investigates topics related to gender and education. Here we're sharing a guest blog from Tamires Gama, a passionate educator who is also a teacher trainer, speaker, materials writer, and entrepreneur.

What is your job title? What is the focus of your work? 

I am a Black female Brazilian educator with over 13 years of experience in English Language Teaching (ELT). My career encompasses various roles, including educator, teacher trainer, speaker, materials writer, and entrepreneur, all with a strong focus on English language teaching, training, technology, and promoting diversity and inclusion in education. Additionally, I identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and have ADHD.

In addition to teaching, I work as a teacher educator, often involved in training EFL teachers to improve their language skills, refine their teaching methods and approaches and effectively and meaningfully incorporate technology into their lessons.

As for my role as a speaker, I deliver presentations on topics related to English language teaching, technology in the classroom, gender, race, and inclusive education. Besides, I am passionate about creating educational materials. Last but not least, reflecting my role as an entrepreneur, I own Simplifica Inglês, an online English school. 

Who do you prioritize reaching? ie: researchers, policymakers, educators, health professionals, the general public, etc? 

Most of my work prioritizes reaching out to educators. By reaching this audience, I am positive that I can influence the way educators approach teaching and truly inspire them to create more inclusive and equitable learning environments. Moreover, focusing on this audience allows me to share expertise, promote professional development, advocate for diversity and inclusion, adapt to the digital educational landscape, and amplify the societal impact of my work by influencing those who, in turn, impact many students. 

By having a wide range of qualifications, such as a B.A in Languages -Portuguese and English (USP), Tesol (University of Anaheim),C2 Proficiency, Celta ,Train the Trainer (Cambridge), LPACTE and ACTE (British Council), Online Education and Learning technologies -postgrad (PUCRS), I have accumulated valuable knowledge and skills that can benefit and inspire other educators, especially black female ones. 

How important is societal impact to your work? Why? 

For several reasons, societal impact is of paramount importance to my work. My passion for studying gender and race, along with my dedication to designing inclusive lessons, demonstrate my commitment to creating an equitable and inclusive educational environment for my students and my peers. By doing so, I encourage fellow teachers to take action and highlight the importance of diversity and the promotion of social justice. 
As an online teacher and teacher educator, I’m also able to be more accessible to a wider range of people. This is especially important in today's globalized world and it breaks barriers in sharing knowledge. I am also really proud to  say that my work has motivated others to follow a similar path.

What does gender equity in the context of education mean to you and how does it relate to your work? 

Gender equity to me means making sure that all individuals, regardless of their gender identity, race, nationality, religion or  social class have equal opportunities, access and can learn in an inclusive and bias-free environment. 

The way I see my work, I am constantly aiming at challenging and dismantling the traditional gender biases and stereotypes that have historically disadvantaged certain gender groups, such as black females, females in countries or regions that are experiencing armed conflict and gender minorities. Gender equity also means to me including diverse perspectives, experiences, and role models in the materials I create. It's all about ensuring that students see themselves and others represented in the content. This principle guides my teaching and training efforts, ensuring that I provide a supportive and equitable learning environment for all. 

Through my work I truly feel I can empower other educators to be advocates for gender equity in their own teaching practices. This ripple effect contributes to a broader change in the educational landscape in Brazil and hopefully abroad.

Which UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) does your work most closely relate to? 

Being an educator and owner of an online English school, I directly contribute to SDG 4 (Quality education), which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all. My passion for studying gender and race and passion for designing inclusive lessons, aligns with SDG 5 (Gender equality), which seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. In addition, my focus on designing inclusive lessons and addressing issues related to gender and race is directly relevant to SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities), which aims to reduce inequalities within and among countries.

Having multiple roles as an educator, teacher trainer, speaker, and materials writer definitely involve collaboration and partnerships within the education sector. SDG 17 (Partnerships for the goals) emphasizes the importance of partnerships for achieving sustainable development, and I see that my work aligns with this goal by fostering educational collaborations. Furthermore, being an entrepreneur allows me, through the ownership of an online English school and having a group of English teachers working for me, total support to SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth), which focuses on promoting sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, with full and productive employment, and on top of that decent work for all.

What do you see as the role of publishers when it comes to equitable education practices? How can we best support researchers and society more generally? 

The role of publishers in promoting equitable education practices is pivotal, as they play a significant part in shaping the content, accessibility, and dissemination of educational materials. 

As for me, one way for publishers to support equitable education practices is to ensure that the educational materials they produce represent diverse perspectives and experiences, including those related to gender, race, ethnicity, and other aspects of identity. Inclusion in textbooks and learning materials is crucial to providing students with a well-rounded and equitable education. Besides, it would be interesting to invest in making educational resources more accessible and affordable. Publishers can explore open-access models, digital resources, and open educational resources in order to reduce financial barriers for students and educators. 
It goes without saying that it’s also crucial that publishers should consider producing educational materials in accessible formats to accommodate students and educators with disabilities. 

What advice do you have for researchers who are looking for ways to make societal impact, in other words, impact beyond their scholarly circle/academia? 

Making a societal impact beyond academia should be one of the main goals for every single researcher. If I could give some pieces of advice, I would definitely start with ‘Define your passion and mission’.  It means identifying the societal issues that matter most to you. You can start by asking yourself the following question: “What I am deeply passionate about?” Your research should align with your personal mission, as this will drive your commitment to making a broader impact.

Besides being aware of your passion and mission, connect with individuals and groups outside of academia who are directly affected by or have a stake in your research topic. You should be ready and with an open heart and mind to listen to their perspectives, needs, and challenges. Another useful piece of advice is something that I do on a regular basis: Leverage digital and social media. It has helped me to share my work and insights with the public and it will definitely help you reach a much wider audience than traditional academic publications. 

To sum up, making a societal impact requires a proactive, careful, patient, resilient and multifaceted approach. It's not just about publishing research; it's about actively engaging with the world outside of academia and applying your expertise to solve real-world problems.

What methods do you use to evaluate the societal impact of your work? 

The methods I currently use include the collection of feedback from students and participants in my classes and training programs. Surveys and interviews can provide me with useful insights into their learning experiences, the relevance of my content, and any changes in knowledge or behavior resulting from the classes or training attended . I am also constantly seeking feedback on the inclusivity aspects from my groups of students and the teaching community I manage, which contains around 50 educators from across Brazil, Europe and Asia.  

As for peer and community recognition I can say that I have a very eventful professional life having been invited to speak at several conferences in Brazil and abroad. Besides, I am quite active on Instagram and my community has grown to over ten thousand followers. 

Explore Springer Nature's SDG5 Gender Equality Hub for more discussions around gender and education.

About the Author

Tamires Gama has over 13 years of experience in ELT, and is a versatile educator, trainer, speaker, and materials writer. Since 2016, she has been teaching English Online and owns Simplifica Inglês, an online English school. Tamires's passion lies in technology, studying gender and race, and designing inclusive lessons.


Author: Guest contributor

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