Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsMy name is Helen Belton and I'm Professor of Outdoor Learning at the University of Reading. And with me I have Michelle Morris, Class Teacher and Patrick Pritchett, Headteacher of Evendons School. We all have a value system, a set of beliefs and values that we work by, and so do schools. And sometimes those values may not match. This is what we're going to discuss now. Michelle what are some of the assumptions that we make about children? I think one of the biggest assumptions that can be made in the classroom is assuming children know something before we start a lesson, or assume that they'll only be able to know so much.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 secondsSo, you plan a lesson and you're assuming that these children are going to fit in those parameters. Whereas actually you might need to give them a lot more background information or you might need to leave it a little more open ended so that they can push further. I think that we can often assume that children know why they're there and for very young children, they could be, they could be in school for weeks or even months before they even realise that they're in school and that you're here every day in front of them, teaching them and then they suddenly make that connection. So, it's quite important that we work those assumptions out and help them?

Skip to 1 minute and 28 secondsFor young children, I think you just have to know something about child development. You have to just stop yourself. You've got your own plan of what you want to teach but you need to just pause and stop and think- right, how old are these children? Where are they in the development? We can just forget to tell them, just the basics, almost. Yeah. Yeah I'd agree. You need to think about what the children need right in that moment, so you can have all the plans that you've spent weeks or hours working on.

Skip to 1 minute and 55 secondsBut if the children are showing you that they are not understanding why they're there or what they're learning, you need to just stop that completely and go with what the children need. In your careers, have you ever noticed any biases of yourself or other people? What what have you done about those biases? I have noticed with other people. There have been a couple of colleagues I've worked with who have bias towards certain children in the classroom. They've made relationships a lot more with some children and not so much with others.

Skip to 2 minutes and 30 secondsI think it's really important that you can notice that yourself, in your own practice or that you can notice it in your colleagues and it's important to have those frank open discussions. Why do you think people do that? Why do they gravitate toward some children? I think it could be personalities that

Skip to 2 minutes and 48 secondspeople have maybe? There's children that are more like family members possibly or people that you know outside of school, or you've got those children who show their love and their affection for the adults in the classroom. And, if you've not got the experience or the level-headed to be able to differentiate that all children need the same amount of attention, you could easily be swayed into falling into those more affectionate children. Patrick? I think that the, the most bias I ever see in a school is really when a teacher perhaps values something, and doesn't really consider whether or not that's valued by the child.

Skip to 3 minutes and 32 secondsSo, you might be teaching something because you think well this is really valuable - but for that child, from that family background, or from that culture or because of where they are in their development - is of no value at all. And what can we do about that? I think you've just got to be mindful of that all the time, you know, and you've got to, you obviously know if you're teaching a lesson and it's going very badly because nobody values it at all, you obviously then have a really sharp wake call. You have to think why didn't they go well? What, what is it? You know, what is it about that lesson?

Skip to 4 minutes and 3 secondsBut I think the more experience you get the more you understand that it's got to have value for those children, and you've got to consider all of your children.

Teacher's view: Addressing bias in the classroom

In the previous Step you’ve looked at unconscious bias and how this can lead to making automatic and unintentional judgments.

In the first of our round table discussions, watch Michelle Morris, Class Teacher and Patrick Pritchett, Headteacher, both from Evendons Primary School, discuss with Helen the assumptions some adults make when working with children. They consider how this can affect children’s learning and how to recognise and overcome your own unconscious bias.

Have you had to overcome any of your own unconscious bias? How did you recognise it and what did you do to overcome it?


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This video is from the free online course:

Supporting Successful Learning in Primary School

University of Reading