In January 2012, Rachel Lotan presented a SCOPE Brown Bag lecture on "Building Equitable Classrooms." After the talk, she sat down with us to discuss her research on Complex Instruction, a pedagogical approach designed at Stanford University to create and support equitable classrooms for students with a wide range of previous academic achievement and proficiency in the language of instruction, as well as socially and culturally diverse backgrounds.
Lotan discusses the importance of equal-status interactions among students and explains how teachers can build equitable classrooms by crafting appropriate learning tasks, organizing the classroom for productive collaboration, assessing and providing feedback to groups and individuals and, most importantly, by addressing status problems that arise in small working groups.
Professor Lotan is Director of the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP). Her teaching and research focus on aspects of teaching and learning in academically and linguistically diverse classrooms as well as topics in teacher education. Previously, she co-directed the Program for Complex Instruction at Stanford, where she worked on the development, research, and worldwide dissemination of complex instruction, a pedagogical approach to creating equitable classrooms. For ten years before starting graduate work, Professor Lotan taught English and French in junior high and high school.