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  • Writer's pictureMatt Garris

Equity and Inclusion

The following post is adapted from my personal academic coursework.

Equity and Inclusion

Within an education context, equity and inclusion are vital to establishing a safe and welcoming learning community in each classroom. However, in my experience, many educators approach these concepts as either pre-conditional to instruction (i.e. incorporated into curriculum design or lesson planning phases) or as an adjustment to traditional instruction (e.g. special education accommodations, assignment or grading modifications, teaching to the culture, etc.) and place the onus for achieving equity and inclusion within the classroom upon the teacher.

Leveraging Leadership

Using a path-goal approach to learning management seems to be a promising strategy for increasing equity within the classroom. While students should still encounter content which is rigorous enough to provide a meaningful learning experience, teachers--as both classroom managers and learning facilitators—can utilize the path-goal theory to ensure equitable opportunities for all students.

However, leaders must remember Northouse’s admonition that the goal is not to solve all the problems, but rather to “help followers confront them.” Matthew 25:35 (NKJV) tells of those who responded to people in need: “…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” While Jesus commends those who gave food, drink, shelter, and clothing to solve the problems of those in need, He also commends those who visited the sick instead of healing them and came to the prisoners instead of freeing them. Likewise, Northouse suggested that leaders may help “the follower around the obstacle or… …[remove] the obstacle.”

Limitations of Leader-Member Exchange

Similarly, utilizing the Leader-Memeber Exchange theory to connect with each student in such a way that allows him or her access to the in-group has the possibility to create a more inclusive class environment. However, Northouse noted that the approach “supports the development of privileged groups.” This potentiality could lead to a less inclusive class environment. Shore et al. stated that “having a high level of [leader-member exchange] in a diverse work group contributed to the greatest amount of turnover when the manager had good relations with most, but not all, followers.” Individual practitioners must examine their own situation and determine whether the potential reward outweighs the associated risks, but experience suggests that in most scenarios, it does not.


Holy Bible, New King James Version. (2020). Thomas Nelson (Original work published 1982).

Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership: Theory and practice (8th ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc.

Shore, L. M., Randel, A. E., Chung, B. G., Dean, M. A., Holcombe Ehrhart, K., & Singh, G. (2011). Inclusion and diversity in work groups: A review and model for future research. Journal of Management, 37(4), 1262–1289.


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