Equity in the classroom

posted Mar 12, 2013, 8:53 PM by Dawn Gernhardt   [ updated Mar 12, 2013, 8:53 PM ]
I reflect upon my own biases to ensure equity in my classroom. My biases are my triggers. Whenever I feel that I’ve been disrespected or a boundary has been crossed, that indicates that I’m biased either for or against the way the student handled a situation. As if they “shouldn’t” do what they did. Or, should “do something else.” I know I’ve been triggered when I feel angered, slighted, or my ego flaring up.

I mitigate my own behavior when working with students by reading the situation, using my instinct and years of working with others to diffuse the situation. If I’m going in the wrong direction or something isn’t working, I instantly feel the friction in the air. Not to say that I don’t also misinterpret, misread, or become oblivious at times—I’m sure that happens more often than not. I think about ways I can save face or let my student save face—I look for the out.

It’s important to avoid power struggles. If there is strong resistance, it’s best to realize or acknowledge I’m reacting, and instead of pushing back (where everyone loses), I need to give the student options. Also, if I’m reviewing and commenting on a student’s essay, it’s best to ask questions instead of making statements or judgments. It’s helpful to point out someone’s successes before pointing out their challenges. And, it’s important to focus on the material or work, not the person as the focus for the feedback.

I work hard to subscribe to the Four Agreements in the classroom. "1.Do my best, 2.Don’t make assumptions, 3. Be a person of my word. 4. Don’t take anything personal."

      1.How do we reduce the number of African-Americans and Latinos being expelled from school or erroneously labeled as mentally retarded or having special needs?

      2. How do we increase the number of African-Americans and Latinos who participate in gifted, honors, IB, and AP programs, graduate high school and go on to get a degree or have a successful career?

      3. Is the creation of single-sex schools (is that single-sex school or single-sex and single race schools?) just a reflection of administrators and teachers reacting and trying to remedy the poor results (and wrist slaps, penalties, judgment, lack of funding, etc.) they are getting from their populations in WASC, CST, and other tests and evaluations?

      4. So, why do stereotypes exist? Do they serve a purpose? Is there some truth to stereotypes or does the stereotype cause the truth/proof? What do we do about that? Is it when people say "all" of anyone "always" or "never" do or don't do something that you have to watch out for? Would stereotyping be eliminated if we stopped speaking in generalities and instead spoke in specifics?


Understanding unconscious bias and unintentional racism.

Saving black and Latino boys: What schools can do to make a difference.