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1.7: Recognizing Your Biases

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    Google the word bias and this is what pops up: “prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.”

    Biases, we all have them. Biases stem from our upbringing. Every interaction and every experience we have had has shaped who we are. To some degree, our biases influence our beliefs and behaviors, they sway our attitudes, and they affect our personalities. Because our biases are so ingrained into who we are, it would be unrealistic to simply say “ignore your bias.” Therefore, a valuable exercise might be to do a self-check and examine your own biases. Look for those biases that are “triggers.” More specifically, think about the behaviors, temperamental traits, and moods that make you feel uncomfortable, frustrated, or annoyed.

    It is important to note, that we might not be fully aware of all our biases. For example, when a child says, “give me some milk!” Our first response might be “Ummm, how do you ask?” We might not realize that manners (or lack of them) can make us react in a judgmental way. What’s important to recognize is that how we feel about the child’s behavior can taint how we see them. What’s more, our biases can influence how we gather our observation evidence. As intentional teachers we have to recognize our biases so we can treat all children with the respect that they deserve. According to NAEYC’s Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment (2011),

    P-1.3—We shall not participate in practices that discriminate against children by denying benefits, giving special advantages, or excluding them from programs or activities on the basis of their sex, race, national origin, immigration status, preferred home language, religious beliefs, medical condition, disability, or the marital status/family structure, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs or other affiliations of their families (p. 3).

    So as not to lose our objectivity, it is important to keep an open heart, an open mind, and a clear lens. Rather than letting a child’s behavior trigger you, look beyond their behavior, look beyond your bias. Focus on collecting objective observation evidence and use that data to reflect on what might be causing that behavior. Consider ways that you can support the child through redirection, modeling, scaffolding or positive reinforcements. As intentional teachers, one of our primary roles is to empower children, and to build meaningful relationships by creating warm, caring environments (Epstein, 2007).

    Pin It! Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Observation Evidence

    • Making Conclusions : Billie can’t do anything by himself because he is the youngest in a large family and they do everything for him; Sharon’s parents are getting a divorce, so she is sad
    • Making Assumptions : Annie never shares; Denise always hits Thomas
    • Labeling : Rosie is mean ; Jeff is such a good boy
    • Comparing : Tommy can’t ride the bike as well as Sam; Zoey was the best listener at circle time
    • Focusing on Feelings or Emotions : Max looks so sad today; Jax looks so happy as he slides down the slide
    • Adding Opinions : Martha really likes playing dress up, she is in the dramatic play area every day; Suki is shy and never says anything during circle time.

    This page titled 1.7: Recognizing Your Biases is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Gina Peterson and Emily Elam.