Our actions are so important! So much can be said, but without our actions those words are empty.
As the new school year approaches, I frequently see posts about welcoming students with open arms. This sentiment is hugely important in the success of all students. Of course kiddos need routines, academics, life skills- but they need to know they are wanted and valued in the learning community.
It is easy to welcome kiddos into our classrooms- but what do you do when a child challenges you? Are you able to still welcome them the same way? Don’t feel you have to admit to anything on here- it is a reflective question.
The truth is our underlying assumptions shape our actions. These assumptions are pervasive in all fields, especially education.
We all say and aim to be inclusive of all. HOWEVER, it is our assumptions that often make our actions less inclusive than we think.
What are these assumptions?
What is unconscious bias or these underpinning assumptions?
Why do they influence me so much?
Simply put, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable thoughts & actions, come into play in involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. They are a prejudice for or against one person or group. In other words, implicit bias are unconscious feelings we have towards other people – unconscious feelings play a HUGE part in influencing our judgement, actions, thoughts, and interpretations.
WHAT CAN WE DO???
keep reading....I have a few suggestions for you and a link to a freebie to get you on your way to opening your mind.
Acknowledging Your Bias:
Before you can even start to really change your mindset, you need to take the time to figure out what drives your actions, your thoughts, your feelings, and your interpretations: either favourably or unfavourably. Ask yourself questions like: what do I feel about this person & why? why did I make that decision? could I have done something different? why didn't I?
I know how hard it is to look inside yourself and start to question your beliefs, your values, & your actions. It is a lot! For me, I started the journey by digging deep and looking at situations I perceived to be negative or had an unfavourable spin for me. I started to explore why I felt the way I did or acted the way I did. I started with the negative which naturally progressed to reflection on favourable situations/contexts.
Keep a journal- record your insight, your thoughts, your reflections. This is a first step at transformation- and it is HUGE!!!
HOW CAN YOU START TO ACKNOWLEDGE???
1. Connect, Communicate, & HARD Conversations
You cannot grow in isolation! You need to reach out to your peers, your family, your friends, the random person your just met- listen to them, ask them questions, challenge them (politely & respectively) on why they believe what they believe- this will help you develop your mindset. When you challenge someone else (asking them questions or for more information), it helps you learn and understand. Often, we have an AHA moment just from listening and experiencing. These AHA moments change how we think and look outwardly.
2. Learn From Colleagues
Reflect on why some teachers have more success reaching all their students, filling in the gaps, and creating a much more inclusive & open learning community. What do they do differently? Observe, ask, be aware. How do these 'gap-closing' teachers build trust and relationships? Through reflection (both on your own actions and the actions of others) & conversation, you can begin to isolate and track how you perceive certain contexts. Use your reflection journal.
Keep record of your thoughts, your reflections, your interpretations of different situations- why do you think the student reacted in a certain way when the teacher did X? what did that student due when you did Y? Keep record of your conversations. Why did so-and-so act that way? How did they explain it to you? Ask your colleagues about their actions and why they have success or they have failure with certain things. Taking the time to think honestly, openly, and with input from others will help you to shape
3. Be Aware:
Keep these questions in your back pocket:
I challenge all professionals- especially teachers- to take an hour and think about some of your actions, and the assumptions that drove that action. Record your assumptions- take an intentional break to reflect on who you want to be & how you are going to get there!
For those interested, our Part One: Identifying Underlying Assumptions is up on our website. It provides a framework for you to start to keep track of situations or context from which you wish to explore or examine more closely. As later parts to this profesisonal development program are realized, you will work through these situations to develop new ways to view or perceive them. It is a great way to add structure to your reflection and to start or continue to open your mind to different points of view.
We will be doing a slow release of the professional development program so keep your eyes out on our website (freebies)- it is more or less a guided journal to help you along your inclusive journey! Start acknowledging your assumptions now