Cultivate a classroom where diversity is the norm!
In part one, we looked at what implicit bias is and how educators can work towards addressing their own biases. In today’s post, we’ll move to the classroom and explore how educators can teach kids about implicit bias and combat it in early education classrooms.
Combating Implicit Bias Begins In The Preschool Classroom
In order to dispel implicit biases, teachers must actively engage and become aware of theirs to then facilitate and encourage diversity in the preschool classroom.
Below are the many ways teachers can tackle their biases and cultivate a better learning environment for their students.
Shine Light On Biases
Holding an implicit bias isn’t a fixed character trait and oftentimes we aren’t even aware we’re doing it, so it’s important to get curious about how we act and respond to specific situations. It’s not uncommon, especially if you’re of the majority, to make quick judgments of others from different social and cultural backgrounds than our own, and in the end, this hurts the well-being of the minority.
When you do encounter people or a situation you’re unfamiliar with, the best way to combat an implicit bias is to ask yourself questions and embrace empathy. Seeking to understand first, always wins!
Lead With Empathy
We said it above, and we’ll say it again — lead with empathy! When we cloak ourselves in empathy it gives us the opportunity to understand another perspective and feelings that others may be experiencing, which is a great guide in all of our social encounters.
When you first ask questions or leave space for an alternative view, you can understand others more clearly and this directly impacts the classroom — in a beneficial way!
Seek Out Diverse Relationships
As children, we are essentially a product of our upbringing — so, if you grew up in upper-middle-class white America where there was no diversity, you are a product of that environment. But, as an adult, you can make choices that expand these experiences. For example, is your Instagram account all white, straight people? If it is, diversify! Follow people with different experiences than you.
It’s important as an educator to become aware of your implicit bias to foster an environment of diversity in your classroom. Now let’s take a look at how you can tackle implicit bias in your classroom.
The best way to combat or tackle implicit bias is through exposure — immerse these tiny citizens to stories, films, and learning projects that promote diversity.
It’s incorporating books about many famous people, people of color — telling their important stories that are so often lost. Or, having a day each week where students share their culture and family traditions.
It’s making a place where diversity in classroom in the norm and not a special event — an every day, consistent lesson.
Tackle implicit bias and racism head-on.
It’s crucial to not only important to have open and honest conversations about our biases, but to address racism head-on. It’s also creating an environment where kids feel comfortable talking openly with each other.
Implicit bias isn’t inherently wrong, it’s held as a part of our experiences, so it’s important to not only expose kids to different cultures, societies, and ethnicities, but to address these biases as they come up.