Bias in Teaching There are a lot of teachers who dream of providing all of their students with quality education. Yet, there are moments when teachers can look at their students and realize that there are just so many differences that cannot be overlooked. There are students that are of different race, sex, class, gender, abilities, and ethnicity. Some teachers cannot help but not look past that.
What is Implicit Bias? It seems that there are some people who are not aware that they are already experiencing bias. Who wants to admit that you are teaching and acting with bias? I have news for you, we all have bias!!! It is okay to have bias it means you have experienced, you have thought, you have understood. However, it is important to understand your bias and your underlying assumptions. Your bias and your assumptions will shape your actions. How many times have you given your two cents? Right, it is all based on our personal bias. What does bias mean for your teaching? Implicit bias refers to our attitudes and perceptions that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions. Implicit bias shapes us on an unconscious level. We all have good ideas and good intentions about how to teach all our students. However, ‘our blocks exist at the feeling, unconscious level’ (Choudhury, 2015) leaving us to act or practice differently than how we say we would act/practice in certain situations. As educators, we need to recognize and understand our underlying assumptions and our bias in order to grow and further develop our practice. Areas to consider in exploring your bias:
Students with physical needs
Politics & education
What Can You Do? The first thing you need to realize is that we all have bias. Once you acknowledge this then you are ready to explore your bias in a more authentic way- using both your head and your heart. We must accept our bias and our assumptions as part of who we are as teachers BUT we must acknowledge how they affect us in both positive ways and negative ways. The first thing you can do is to reflect on you!!! What are some of your bias and assumptions? This is a hard practice because we do not always want to admit our flaws. You can do this in writing, you can do this in your head, or you can share your bias and assumptions. Once you have identified one or more areas, you need to reflect on the why you belief your truths or your perspectives to be what they are. What events or experiences led you to your bias and assumptions? The second thing you can do is to collaborate with others. Listen to their voices and their experiences. You always hear about walking in another’s shoes, this is the perfect time to do so. Listening to your colleagues’, your mentor’s and your coach’s perspectives are important in growing your development. Seek advice from people who have helped them in the past. In identifying and understanding your implicit bias and what that means for your practice, you need to explore different perspectives and perceptions. Not only is it important to be curious about yourself. Why do you think the way you think? It is important to be curious about other people too. Why do they think the way they do? You will not escape bias or underlying assumptions and you should not try. However, you need to be aware of why you have certain bias and assumptions and how they affect your actions. As a teacher, our role includes acting in a fair and just way. Understanding why we think and feel certain things is a step in teaching all our students inclusively.