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Inclusion Column

Moving forward by being vulnerable

By Alejandra Garza Martínez

Inclusion column

Facing our fears, loving and accepting ourselves, with flaws, imperfections, and mistakes is an act of courage. Exposure makes us vulnerable, and as Dr. Vivek Murthy says in his book “Together”: we use vulnerability to empower ourselves. To make us stronger, make us better, make us soar.

Students with a learning disability, which is hard to see, can feel fear to expose themselves because it is not obvious, it is not seen. For educators, it is a challenge to empathize when we don’t really see it. When learners dare to show their weaknesses and strengths we can help them more efficiently and intentionally target their personal needs.

It is important that we, as educators, are able to meet all learners' needs, emotionally and academically. After being at home for so many months, learners need to feel safe and heard, and have a sense of belonging in our community.

“To be real is to be vulnerable, and this takes courage, especially if we believe that others will like us more if we hide or distort who we truly are.” During Distance Learning distorting reality was easy to do, but now that we are back (or partially back) and need to provide opportunities for learners to show us who they truly are so we can help them.  

Some ideas to do this:

  • Exposure: let students make mistakes and let them know it is ok to make them.
  • Modeling: Acknowledge your own mistakes as an adult and model how you learn from them.
  • Reinforcing language “Today’s lesson was tough, but you kept trying, persistence will help you.”
  • Love and caring: Demonstrate empathy and connect with learners.
  • Choice: “Providing students with options for how to express their learning gives each student the chance to show their best work.” Lee Ann Jung - article
  • RULER program (launched in 2005 by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence):
    • R recognizing emotions
    • U understanding emotions
    • L labeling emotions
    • E expressing emotions
    • R regulating emotions
Inclusion column

Coming back to school, recovering from a pandemic, and in an attempt to move forward, our learners need an ambience in which they can feel safe and be able to be vulnerable so we can target their individual needs and set them up for success. “Treat being wrong as a learning opportunity.” An ambience (whether in person, hybrid or DL)  in which we learn from our mistakes and let ourselves be exposed to💡 rethink, 💭 reimagine, 💫  reinvent and 🔄 redo whatever is necessary to rise and succeed. The ASFM Covid Response Team just modeled this for us 👏.


1 “Together” Dr. Vivek Murthy, 2020

2 Adam Grant, March 2021