Beginning Steps to an Equitable Classroom: Step 1

By Jessie Cordova, Senior Associate, Bright Morning

You’ve defined equity (my previous blog post or Elena’s definition).

Now ask yourself:

Would your students characterize their classroom as an equitable learning space?

Would you?

No matter how you answer these questions, there is likely an opportunity to reset, restart or refine. Here’s how.

Step 1: Let’s start by owning, admitting, recognizing that we all have bias—some conscious and some unconscious. To be human is to have bias. It is a natural instinct with unnatural consequences. When we act in alignment with biases, we run the risk of inflicting serious harm to others. The better we get at identifying these within ourselves, the better we can serve children because we can choose to behave in more empowering ways. Time and time again I see educators wasting valuable time and energy defending their lack of bias. Instead, we need to admit they are there, proactively identify them, explore where they came from and begin to unlearn them. This will likely raise the question: How can I find something I don’t know is there? There are a few entry points you can try. Start with a list. Write down all of your identity markers. Everything. Try to make it as exhaustive as possible. Then review one at a time and consider all the ways that particular identity has helped you excel (offered you a privilege) and all the ways in which it has held you back (likely a form of oppression). See what connections you begin making between what is on paper and what you do and say on a daily basis. Biases are informed by our life experiences which are deeply shaped by how we identify so this is an excellent place to start.

To Do: Evaluate yourself!

As you get stuck, and you will explore resources like this one or this one or this one that can help you revisit your list from a different point of view.

Required action: Ask for help.

Ask trusted colleagues and friends for feedback. But, do not ask people that you know will tell you what they think you want to hear. Your circle of people has to be people who love you so much they will share difficult truths with you. You get the ‘right’ people and you will get the necessary insights. Show them your list or simply share your thoughts after using the reflection instruments linked above. Ask them: Do you see anything or hear anything from me that I don’t yet understand? What do you believe are the implications of me doing XYZ in my classroom?

Required action: Listen.

Listen and get curious about the feedback. Hold yourself to the same standard we hold for children: to be life-long learners.

Take advantage of our best deal of the year and register today (or just before the end of December) for one of our newest offerings – Equity By Design. This very practical workshop allows participants to engage in interactive experiences to build knowledge and skill around key ways of being, beliefs and behaviors to develop an inclusive and thriving school.

Simply register for the workshops and when you choose your ticket, select “Gift Guide Special” as your ticket. The discount will be automatically applied.