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.
October 12, 2015 @ 10:09 pm
Excellent and concise piece. I completely agree with your three aspects of inclusive behavior. I really like your first point to “be reflective” – that requires constant awareness and attention. That means constantly evaluating and recognizing your biases and being aware of them when you go into the classroom. I’m not able to watch the TED talk yet, but I’m looking forward to it.
October 13, 2015 @ 3:39 pm
I really enjoyed this post! Many of us probably do not actively think about the biases we may bring into the classroom with us, and it is extremely important that we do this. Being observant is a great point, as well, as we can learn a lot from how our students may respond to something we say simply by observing their nonverbals or facial expression. I haven’t seen this TED talk you mentioned, but I certainly think it would be interesting and I hope to find a chance to watch it soon!
October 13, 2015 @ 7:43 pm
Thank you so much for this post- I loved the outlined steps to identifying and dealing with bias. I notice that when I try to write or speak formally, I often use “he” instead of “they” or “he/she” or just “she”…(and I am a woman!). I realize this is from the typical standard, and it was nearly second nature to choose male when picking a gender for a subject. I have since become more aware of my writing and how even a pronoun choice as subtle as this can affect both others and myself. I think that choosing words wisely- and being aware of why we make the choices we do- is important when considering how to deal with bias.
October 13, 2015 @ 9:37 pm
Excellent post! I highly agree with you that a teacher should find out his/her bias in education and try to overcome them before teaching. Everyone has bias. It is really important for teachers to observe the reactions from each student and treat their feedback seriously. The feedback from students or TA or other instructors will be a great tool to have us to find out our bias or other weak points. Teachers should be brave when facing their bias. Then they will know how to face the bias from students and how to correct it.
October 13, 2015 @ 11:49 pm
I definitely know I’m not perfect so I’m not trying to say that what I do is best, but I tend to spend a lot of time prefacing everything I say before I say it because I want to try and acknowledge my biases and shortcomings before I start talking. It is impossible to acknowledge them all in one go, but I think those three aspects (reflective, observant, and transparent) are of paramount importance for starting a conversation and to have an engaging, two-way conversation with students and instructors. Great post!
October 14, 2015 @ 1:29 am
This is a great post! Thank you for including this additional video! This kind of answers some questions I posed in my blog post this week. Basically the thought of not being aware of biases you may have is terrifying when it comes to something as important as teaching. The thought that you could be making students feel uncomfortable and not even realize it. I think the three points of advice given here could really help navigate that issue. I especially liked the “be observant” point. Being aware of social ques to your behavior I think is always important, but probably even more so to be an effective teacher.
October 14, 2015 @ 4:24 pm
Absolutely. Of course we all have biases! We’re human. And it is terrifying to think that in addition to the biases we own there are also many we don’t even realize we have. I’m also really bothered by the awareness that I can make students (and people in general) uncomfortable without wanting to or without realizing what I’m doing. On the one hand, real learning is often messy and uncomfortable, and I’m ok with that. But I’m always on the lookout for ways to be more informed, observant, and award of how my behavior affects others.
October 14, 2015 @ 2:27 pm
I agree that we’re all guilty of having bias toward certain demographics. And true, I don’t enjoy judging my personality flaws when I look in the mirror. I still haven’t watched the video you posted, but I’m going to.
October 14, 2015 @ 6:25 pm
I agree with your post. I really just feel that sometimes, it’s easier said than done. The way we act most times is the sum total of all our life experiences and that’s how we’ve come to have the personalities we have. Including genetic predispositions of course. Sometimes the motives of our actions are so deep beneath our subconscious that we are not even aware of them. Very good post.
October 14, 2015 @ 6:36 pm
This is a really nice post! And I really enjoyed the TED talk! It makes us think totally different from the way that we always thought was the best but we deeply knew that it wasn’t the best. Differences are there and we should not try to hide or ignore them. That’s how people are… Different! And we should acknowledge those differences and treat those people the same way we treat a person who’s not that different.
October 14, 2015 @ 8:13 pm
Great post – the three points are a really great summation. Your points offer great guidance regarding how to be intentional in the way we treat our students. It’s uncomfortable to recognize our own capacity for bias but it feels more manageable with these simple guidelines for addressing our biases.
October 14, 2015 @ 9:18 pm
Ayesha, very nice post. The three points that you mentioned are very important and every person should be aware of them not only teachers. You learn a lot from people’s reaction and I also find that being genuine and transparent is the way to go in my teaching career.
October 14, 2015 @ 9:26 pm
Great, I also appreciate your post! I love the idea of facing the fact that we have bias, to “go towards them”. Like other comments, mine will also register agreement with the 3 aspects you wrote — it is a very direct approach and it is good, since these subjects tend to create infinite discussion sometimes.
I would add something that is really coming into my mind all the time while I read the classmates posts on inclusiveness and bias: How could we try to avoid blaming and feeling guilty about it?