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Combat Bias, Interrupt Privilege, Include All


MAR 7, 2018 | 11:00AM – 1:00PM Jillian Bontke, Anti-Defamation League

  • @jbontke,

Dr. Rachelle Warren, Anti-Defamation League – North Texas/Oklahoma

  • @rlwarren7,

Summary The “Combat Bias, Interrupt Privilege, Include All” workshop was focused on creating a safe space for dialogue about how to acknowledge bias and address how impacts our participation in community and our relationship with our students. Below are some basic outlines of purpose, ground rules, and activities that we practiced during the session. There is more information and a link to the Anti-Defamation League at the bottom of the post. Both Jillian and Rachelle encouraged people to reach out and utilize these resources to create activities that facilitate a deeper look at our practice.


Basic Premise

  • Bias is universal
    • We all have it
    • Precursor for prejudice and bigotry
  • Prejudice can be unlearned
    • Learned unconsciously
    • Conscious effort to unlearn
  • Conflicts may arise
    • Helps use grow and learn
    • Good thing
  • Respectful dialogue is needed
    • Windows and mirrors
    • People from diverse backgrounds can share with each other to find similarities and learn differences
  • Assume good will
    • Use I statements
    • Ask for more information for something sounds odd
  • The wisdom of the group is great
    • Rely on dialogue of the group, open up
  • There are no easy answers
  • Time is valuable
  • Change is a process
  • Diversity is a strength

Ground Rules

  • Respect others
  • Use “I” statements
  • Speak from your own experience
  • Share “air time”
    • Step up or step back – share your notes/thoughts if you usually don’t, wait a beat if you are usually the one to ask questions or make contributions
  • Be open to new ideas
  • Ask questions
  • Respect confidentiality
  • Ouch/oops
    • Ouch – something is said that doesn’t hit you quite right, own the hurt
    • Oops – something you say comes out as hurtful, own your mistake and clarify/try again
  • Create a safe space in which everyone can speak
    • Avoid things that can shut down conversations

Parking Lot – space for issues/ideas that aren’t addressed – add to ground rules   Culture is a lens or  filter through which we see the world and through which the world sees us

  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Behaviors  
  • Expectations
    • The more people understand these for themselves and others, the more effective communications can be between them

Establishing Shared Language

  • Bias –
  • Explicit Bias – conscious bias towards specific people or groups
    • Aware
    • voluntary
    • intentional
  • Implicit Bias – unconscious bias towards group
    • unaware
    • Involuntary
    • Unintentional

Activity 1:

  • Materials – Notepad and Pen
  • Prompt –
    • Imagine you’ve just met someone for the first time, write down:
      • 5 things you notice that give favorable bias towards them
      • 5 things you notice that give unfavorable bias towards them
  • Share out
    • Examples
      • Speech
      • Gender
      • Openess
      • Political markers
      • Age
      • Race
      • Occupation/Education
      • Facial Expression
  • Discuss
    • Example Reactions – fight or flight reactions to negative stereotypes
      • Tense
      • Perplexed
      • Conflicted
        • Want to connect, but uncomfortable
      • Judgy
      • Closed down
  • Explain
    • Bias and behavior associated leads to prejudice
    • Discussing this reduces prejudice?
  • Prompt, round 2
    • Think of the students you’ve served, write the name (12 prompts)
      • Best student understanding content
      • Worst student understanding content
      • Most disruptive
      • Fave student
      • Least fave student
      • Gifted
      • Hardest Worker
      • Most Challenging Student
      • Most concerned about
      • Most helpful
      • Most Articulate
      • Strongest
    • Assessing your own bias
      • What are your prejudices relating to group identify?
      • What personal experiences may have contributed to these?
      • How might these prejudices influence your behavior?
        • Example responses:
          • Helpful get more opportunities
          • Students similarities to me are easier to connect with
          • Make assumptions or create stories for behaviors for students
          • Avoid interacting with tough students, don’t go there
          • Struggle to assume best intentions, hard not to assume motives
            • Manufacture motives based on my own experiences
          • Predict future interactions, self-fulfilling prophecies
          • Hard not to take it personally, looking at behavior instead of looking at student, behavior gets in the way
    • ASYOB Questions
      • In what ways are students listed for pos. Att. similar to or different to you?
      • In what ways are students listed for neg. Att. similar to or different to you?
      • In what categories did you list boys? Girls?
      • In which categories did you list white students? Students of color?
      • In which categories did you list upper/middle class students?
      • Students whose families live in poverty or are homeless?
      • Are some students better served in the school than others? If so, in what ways?

Step 1: Acknowledging the bias

  • What does it really mean?
  • Unconscious Bias: When Good Intentions Aren’t Enough by Sarah Fiarman
    • How to recognize and address biases?
    • Non-defensiveness when accused of malintent
    • Subtle, non-overt, covert racism, unintended
    • Use data to examine response to different students based on their characteristics

Activity 2:

  • Materials: poster paper, markers, stickies, scenario descriptions
  • Prompt-
    • Scenarios posted around the room
    • How would you respond in this scenario
    • Gallery walk and discuss with others at the poster
    • Write responses on poster or stickies
    • Keep moving, conversations will be cut off
  • Cut off conversations before they conclude so that people leave the session still having something to talk about
  • Do we see implicit biases or signs of defensiveness, own it, this conversation is about us/we in the room
  • Listen to what parent, student, coworker is saying, take a breath, not about you and your pride, how can you advance the relationship
    • Hear the problem, validate and acknowledge, don’t cover up with your filter
  • Scenarios:
    • During a parent-teacher conference, a mother tells you that her son, the only African-American student in your class, has complained to her that he gets in trouble more than his classmates for the same behaviors.
    • At drop-off one day you overhear two parents talking about an incident that happened the day prior in which a student on the autism spectrum ran away from the school and the principal had to call the police to locate him. One parent said, “He can’t be doing very well in school, with his mental problems and all, so I can’t blame him for wanting to leave.”
    • One of your school’s professional development initiatives is a teacher to teacher observation program in which you learn new teaching practices from each other. While you are observing one of your colleagues, you hear her say to the class, “I need a couple of boys to move this table for me.”
    • At a recent staff meeting, the topic of planning the annual multicultural fair comes up. The teacher who always chairs the planning committee is out on maternity leave so one of your colleagues suggests that the new Spanish teacher, a Mexican-American woman, take over the role because she “is most interested in promoting cultural diversity and also understands culture better than us.” The new teacher doesn’t say anything.
    • You are chatting with your colleagues on the elementary school playground during recess, watching students run around and play. You notice an African-American girl whom you have never seen at school before. When you ask your colleagues who she is one of them says, “That’s Kayla. She’s new to the school. She’s so big. Doesn’t she look like she’s in middle school? I wonder if she’s been held back.”

Step 2: Evaluate and Plan for Action

  • Evaluate where on the spectrum your school community is and brainstorm ways to address it or ways you need help.

Activity 3:

  • Materials: notepad, writing utensil
  • Prompt-
    • What are the obstacles that you as educators face when trying to create a respectful school environment?
    • 3 columns – record observations
    • Column 1 – What does a disrespectful school look like?
    • Column 2 – Obstacles
    • Column 3 – What does a respectful school look like?
      • Use details
      • Environment
      • Shouting – mad loud
      • Apathy
  • Discuss – Building a respectful school
    • If we draw a continuum with a respectful school on one end and a disrespectful school on the other, where would you place your school? Why?
    • Would students assess your school in the same way? Explain your thinking.
    • What are some of the ways that change typically takes place in your school?
    • Which obstacle seems particularly relevant? What steps could you take to “pass through” it?
    • What kind of help would you need?

Use the website to find resources and build your own sessions. Don’t hesitate to reach out for ideas.

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