Anti-Bias Education: It is Necessary

When most people hear the words anti-bias education, they usually think about the act of going against biases associated with race. Race is only one piece of it. When engaging in anti-bias work, we must consider race & ethnicity, religion, ability, class, gender & sexual identity, immigration, bullying, and rights & activism. Not only is anti-bias education needed out in the real world, but it is also needed in our classrooms.

I became a teacher so I could teach math and reading, not so I could teach about controversial topics…

Yes, our role as educators is to ensure that we are teaching content and that our students are growing academically; however, how are we to accomplish the academic piece when some of our students are enduring biases on a daily basis and many times it is happening within the walls of the school building? School should be a safe place-a place for children to thrive and to feel accepted and welcomed. The mental, physical, and emotional safety of our students is not controversial; it should be the expectation.

Educators have always had the responsibility to stand up to hate and bias—but it’s more necessary now than ever. -Mica Pollock

Teaching Tolerance

Teaching Tolerance is a non-profit organization that provides free resources to educators—teachers, administrators, counselors and other practitioners—who work with children from kindergarten through high school. Educators use their materials to supplement the curriculum, to inform their practices, and to create civil and inclusive school communities where children are respected, valued and welcomed participants.

Our program emphasizes social justice and anti-bias. The anti-bias approach encourages children and young people to challenge prejudice and learn how to be agents of change in their own lives. Our Social Justice Standards show how anti-bias education works through the four domains of identity, diversity, justice and action.

What about my beliefs?…

Although we may each have our own beliefs due to culture, religion, etc.., we must always ensure that we are creating a safe space for children that identify with different groups, especially those who are marginalized. Anti-bias education work is not a project you have to undergo to change your religious/cultural/etc… beliefs; it is to understand that you can retain your own beliefs while valuing others and opposing hate speech or actions that denigrate the students or people around you. We must never allow for our students to feel undervalued because they or their families do not share the same belief systems as we do. In doing anti-bias work, we are making space for our students to grow and to thrive.

But no matter our “politics,” standing up against hate—and for learning—is the basic work of education. And who better than us to facilitate it? -Mica Pollock

What does anti-bias work look like in the classroom?

It means being an upstander-someone who models DAILY what it’s like to be intolerant of hate speech and/or actions. It is engaging in deep and meaningful conversations to address real world topics that our students are themselves living. It means to not allow for our students’ dignities to be stripped through our own words, actions, or inactions. It is to invite others to do the work of identifying implicit biases and to move against them. It is teaching students words of respect that acknowledge individuals’ values whether or not they share in their belief system.

The Social Justice Standards

As described by, the Social Justice Standards are a set of anchor standards and age-appropriate learning outcomes divided into four domains—identity, diversity, justice and action (IDJA). The standards provide a common language and organizational structure: Teachers can use them to guide curriculum development, and administrators can use them to make schools more just, equitable and safe.

Talking with them…

We have to do the work of talking WITH our students and not just to them. We have to engage them in conversations where they are learning about the world and the people around them. The Social Justice Standards serve as a guide to illicit these dialogues.

Morning Meeting

Students are mostly used to having surface conversations during morning meetings. Morning meeting is a perfect time to invite students into the conversations regarding anti-bias and equity. With this idea in mind, I created the Social Justice Morning Meeting Slides.

The slides grant students the opportunity to discuss “tough” topics in a safe space. It allows them to learn a variety of perspectives and to understand what an ally is. The Morning Meeting Slides have many opportunities for learning through scenarios, questioning, and analysis of actions.

You know your students best and how to address certain topics. Little kids can handle big topics, especially when a lot of them already face injustice in their lives; however, as teachers we must also be very cognizant of our own internal biases. When considering what the right answer to a question within a slides is, we must refer back to the standards in order to know what the expected outcome should be.

Available for 3-5 and 6-8 also

Breaking it down…

Scenario Mondays: Based on different scenarios that prompt students to think about how to engage in specific situations. Some students may not always know how to react or they may feel as though they are powerless. The scenarios are meant to bring awareness to some of the social justice issues that many face. It allows for students to understand that their personal beliefs do not constitute mistreatment of others.

Are you ready to do the work?

Different doesn’t mean inferior. Let’s do the work!

You can find these Social Justice Morning Meeting Slides for the K-2 Classroom in my TPT Shop. Click on any image above to be taken to the resource.

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