Addressing Bias at School

Hello everyone!  I am so happy to see you and hope that you are having a fantastic and patriotic weekend!





This week's prompt is:

How do/will you address implicit bias at your school?

True Story

Many years ago, I had "that" class.  Due to the variety of issues, a psychologist came regularly to observe my class to help me develop strategies to deal with all the situations.  She had just entered my classroom; we were having Morning Meeting; this is a paraphrased version of the conversation between two African American boys (I am using their first initials).  One of the boys asked me a question about a book we had just read:  More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby.  In this amazing story, George Washington Carver finds a newspaper man who teaches him to read.  He calls the newspaper man "the brown face of hope."

M:  In the story we read yesterday, why couldn't he call the man "the black face of hope?"

R (slaps the rug):  That would be even worse!

M:  Why?  I'm black, and nothing is wrong with that.

R:  You never call anyone black, that's why!  You should know that by now!

At this point, M. runs to the front of the room and bursts into tears. 

Now the class becomes silent as I comfort M. and encourage him to return to the rug.  My main message to the students was that each of them should be safe to express opinions at school.  We need to accept differences respectfully.  At home, families have different views on everything, but in school, it is a safe place.  We might have different skin colors, however, on the inside, we have feelings that need to be honored whether we agree or not. 

Wow, I can still remember this from 10 years ago so vividly because I had no time to think, but I absolutely knew how I felt and believed, and still do.  Students learn from our example; what we say and do every day.  That's what counts, and that's what kids learn.  They see how I treat each of them equally, fairly and respectfully.  I do not tolerate anyone's feelings being hurt.

Other Ways to Prevent Bias

*Read books with characters from diverse backgrounds and cultures. 

*Add books to your classroom library to make it more diverse.  Amazon has a whole section of books to check out here.


*Discuss differences often.

As always, thank  you for popping in to read the blog today.  Every day in the classroom is an adventure; that's why we need to be in school (hopefully)!  Kids learn so much from interacting with their peers and teachers.

3 comments

  1. More Than Anything Else is one of my favorite books. Thanks for sharing this story. This topic is such an important one to talk about.
    Jan
    Laughter and Consistency

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  2. Susan, that was a good response. You were quick to address the differences people have in their families (about what they call people, for instance) but in class, we can learn about all the children's opinions and differences. Each one can be listened to and respected. That goes a long way, and will help children to dismantle their implicit biases. Thanks!

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