As mentioned in my previous post that meeting students and knowing your audience is important. As a teacher, professional and a human being it is important that we know who we are, what good and bad we bring with us where ever we go (especially in to the classrooms) and that we are aware of our biases…and I believe we all have them, but we may not know or want to know them.
If you have not seen this TedTalk: I highly encourage you to watch “Verna Myers – How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly towards them”. I watched this video as part of an implicit bias training for my assistantship at the Student Success Center this semester. What I learned from video is that we are all hard wired to see certain things and act a certain way without even knowing that we are doing them, because from a young age we have been trained to do it that way. Myer calls it personal biases (implicit or explicit). These biases can impact the way we view students (who performs well and those who do not even before they are given a chance to perform) – Steele also calls it Stigmatization. She encourages us to get “uncomfortable before you get comfortable).
So here are few aspects I believe are important in knowing who you are and what you bring to the classroom:
1) Be reflective: before you even get to the classroom-reflect on who you are, what do people see when they see you and what can you do about it (certain aspects we can control but others we can’t- know what they are). Find out what your biases are: towards what you teach and towards the people who are in your classroom.
2) Be observant: how do people react when you speak, are you using inclusive language or do you always favor one gender, race or group over another when providing examples (who are you including and who are you excluding).
3) Be transparent: if you recognize that you bring certain biases, acknowledge them and be open and honest with the students and ask them to help you learn (like: hey-I speak as a woman but you may have different experiences, I have always done it this way, but that does not mean this is the only way…etc.). When you are transparent and honest, students begin to see you as them, as humans, as individuals and are more willing to give you chances.