The language we use to talk about students matters. It reflects and shapes our perceptions, and most importantly, our expectations for student success.
In your school, make a courageous commitment to shift all staff conversations about kids and their families from a deficit mindset, which views diversity as a problem kids bear, to an asset mindset: one which truly values students and their communities for the diversity they bring. Begin by reframing these four sentences.
No matter how good our intentions to be free of prejudice, we all have implicit biases that can have a serious impact on our work in schools.
Implicit bias refers to stereotypes or attitudes that affect our decisions and actions. Unlike explicit bias, which is intentional and part of our belief systems, implicit bias is an association we have that is unconscious and unintentional.
Only two weeks into my poetry recitation challenge in a Title I school, I cannot walk across the playground without a student stopping me to share a poem. “Be forewarned. Reciting poetry is contagious.” In an unscheduled visit to one fifth grade classroom, I arrived to see students out of their seats raising hands to be the first to recite poems. They had begged the teacher to let them take their poems home…
I wrote this poem about being an outsider in China in an effort to build empathy for what I have never experienced: being a new immigrant in the United States. I wrote it primarily for monolingual English speakers in my country who ask about immigrants, “Why do they stay together and speak their language?” “Why don’t they learn English?”