Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice. When my daughter was three years old, I taught her the word "stereotype. " She was just beginning to string words together into sentences, had determined that pink was definitely not her favorite color, and asked (demanded, actually) why all the "girl stuff" was pink and the "boy stuff" was blue. Because there's no three-year-old version for a word describing why colors are gendered in our society, I figured that planting the seed might yield fruit soon enough. And somewhat surprisingly, I was correct. Who's Different and What's Fair As a society and within our educational institutions, discussions about bias, diversity, discrimination, and social justice tend to happen in middle and high schools.
However, young children have a keen awareness of and passion for fairness. Racial identity and attitudes begin to develop in children at a young age. The good news is that bias can be unlearned or reversed if we're exposed to diversity in a positive way. 5 Elementary Strategies 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Energy and Calm: Brain Breaks and Focused-Attention Practices. When presented with new material, standards, and complicated topics, we need to be focused and calm as we approach our assignments. We can use brain breaks and focused-attention practices to positively impact our emotional states and learning. They refocus our neural circuitry with either stimulating or quieting practices that generate increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, where problem solving and emotional regulation occur.
Brain Breaks A brain break is a short period of time when we change up the dull routine of incoming information that arrives via predictable, tedious, well-worn roadways. Our brains are wired for novelty. We know this because we pay attention to every stimulus in our environment that feels threatening or out of the ordinary. This has always been a wonderful advantage. When we take a brain break, it refreshes our thinking and helps us discover another solution to a problem or see a situation through a different lens. Focused-Attention Practices. 4 Powerful Mindsets for Turning Stress Into a Positive Force.
In a 2015 survey of 31,342 teachers, 73 percent said they often felt stressed. Only 3 percent said stress was rare—and frankly, I’m wondering if they filled in the wrong bubble. While 89 percent had been highly enthusiastic about teaching when they started, only 15 percent felt the same way at the time of the survey. With statistics like these, it’s easy to wonder: If stress is the norm, is burnout inevitable? The good news is, the answer is no. The latest research on resilience suggests that you can think about stress in ways that help prevent burnout and enhance well-being. See the Meaning in Your Stress If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why can’t life be less stressful?” The reason is that stress is what you feel when something that you care about is at stake.
Put it into practice: When you feel discouraged by the realities of teaching, think about why you teach and what matters most. Try a Growth Mindset You’re already teaching your students how to have a growth mindset.