Equity & Inclusion: Diving Deep Into Understanding Classism

Nilmini Ratwatte-HenstridgeBlog, Differentiate Better, Lead Better, Lesson Plan Better


  • Create opportunities to “level the playing field” for your students.
  • Address classism; it benefits everyone by us doing so.
  • Educators hold the key to making a difference when it comes to addressing classism.

Deep Diving Into Understanding Classism: Equity & Inclusion

Out of all the blogs I have ever yet written, this topic holds the closest spot to my heart. I have a one hundred rupee note from Sri Lanka. It is valued at .03 pennies today. When I was a child, my parents grabbed four suitcases and moved my brother and me to Ontario, Canada. The reason behind our immigration was due to a long disputed conflict that was making life hard in Sri Lanka. The civil war was pervasive in all aspects of life.

Looking back, it was my visualization of winter white snow that I remember thinking of most whilst awaiting our move. I used to practise how I would one day be wearing mittens and hats while also having no concept of what winter was like at all. Sri Lanka is a tropical country. I do recall sitting with my brother in my small room, dreaming about the world I wanted to live in one day when I was an adult.

Today, I am honoured to live that beautiful life in a very quiet neighborhood, in my beautiful home. I do not know if this is my forever home.

But I do know that I am living proof that anyone can be successful by pursuing their dreams and following through in life’s journey to gain financial independence.

The vows we made in Kataragama Temple prior to leaving Sri Lanka I still hold dear to my heart. The common theme of success for me as a teacher was to always believe in myself by understanding the students and the circumstances of the family life they are born into. Then as educators, we can address classism.

“The common theme of success for me as a teacher was to always believe in myself by understanding the students and the circumstances of the family life they are born into.” Click To Tweet

Taking a Break

This September, I am home and taking a little break from the daily routine. I am looking forward to the long-awaited journey back to Sri Lanka as I blog this month. There is a quote that I love to live by and it states: “Collect memories, not things.” My moments of gratitude in life are the time I spend with loved ones to make each moment matter.

This blog is dedicated and written on behalf of my students, teachers, and my union in the Peel Local. It’s my first year away from formally working. I did plan it this way to spend quality time on life’s goals! Since I started working, it’s been so much fun that I embrace with gratitude the gift of time. Don’t get me wrong, there have been really rough moments, but I also know that self-care and keeping my core values and belief system in mind helped to maintain normal when life seemed to have an unknown path.

Equity and Inclusion Reflection Questions:

  1. How can you address classism in your classroom?
  2. What can you do to have extra funding for students who need it at your school?
  3. List things that you can do in your community to advocate for leveling the playing field and removing financial obstacles!

Classism Defined

There are people who have money, and others who don’t. Classism is that simple.

Knowing that we as educators can level the playing field to provide opportunities to others is an important consideration that sometimes shakes the world gently. It shifts the power dynamics by providing opportunities to give back to others.

Level the playing field as an educator!

You have to use public funding to ensure opportunities for individuals to be successful in all neighborhoods and financial situations no matter what. Money is an important consideration to be able to succeed in school and pursue higher education.

The most important aspect is to be able to make a difference and give back. We can embrace generosity and value humanity.

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Government-funded housing opportunities provide security. Health care systems are imperative so that people have access to preventative health care. Finally, we should never underestimate education grants. Immigrants, refugees, and lower-income families need access to these resources so that they can work and establish themselves.

Equity & Inclusion: Set High Expectations

All of us benefit from a good mentor—someone that we can go to collaborate on a project or discuss ideas with over a cup of hot chocolate. It’s like having the ability to be there for someone who can boost your learning potential and have fun along the way.

The most important aspects in addressing classism would be:

  1. The opportunity for someone to gain qualifications through volunteering opportunities or work-study experiences.
  2. Programming: government student loans or scholarship programs assist with building the bridges that are needed to maintain leveled playing fields.
  3. Equitable employee hiring practices that include cultural and diverse employee groups.

Lead in your own way. Pathways for leadership are varied and you have to be yourself! This year, I wrote about: “Philosophy of Leadership” for the book titled: The Labyrinth of Leadership: Navigating Your Way Through the Maze. The key is to find a leadership style that is your own. Then build transparent, long-lasting relationships.

 Yours in Education,



The Labyrinth of Leadership: Navigating Your Way Through the Maze. Complied by Frederick White and Jami Fowler-White. DigitalPD4You.com, 2022.

Teach Better Twitter Chat: Let’s Talk Equity!

About Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge

Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge teaches in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. She was born in Sri Lanka and immigrated to Canada with her family. As an elementary school teacher who is passionate about equity, social justice, and human rights in education, she enjoys teaching the younger generation to be global-minded citizens.

Discovering the world by connecting with others is an opportunity that we have today in our society today and she loves meeting new people! She is always learning while traveling to understand the inter-connectedness of this beautiful earth we live in! Nilmini LOVES cooking great meals, watching movies, and the latest fashion trends! Family and friends are close to her heart as she looks forward to balancing social media and navigating professional learning communities in education to network globally this year!