Category: Biases

Be Aware of Unconscious and Conscious thoughts

“To know the true reality of yourself, you must be aware not only of your conscious thoughts, but also of your unconscious prejudices, bias, and habits.“

-Author Unknown

Do we hold biases regarding our teaching? Is intelligence fixed or developed? What is your belief? Are we holding students back due to our biased actions? When we believe students cannot learn, we do not provide the strategies to raise intelligence. Are we holding ourselves back because of our fears of the biases of others?

Have you said or heard a co-worker say, “I know the best way to teach students.” What does this statement reveal? Is it confidence? Does it demonstrate a seasoned teacher? Does it show bias?

The best approach to avoid biases is to shift thinking to “I need to learn how students learn best.” Look at each learner to seek ways to provide the best instruction to meet their needs. We move away from discriminatory practices when we know our preferred way to do things may not be how our learners learn; when we can customize experiences for learners, the depth and value of the learning increase.

Time to take out the Garbage!

If you are a parent, you may have given the chore of taking out the garbage to one of your children. Maybe it is your partner’s responsibility or yours alone. No matter who is responsible, I think we can all agree it stinks!

Have you ever considered we accumulate garbage in other places? I am not referring to the piles of stuff gathered in the garage, basement, attic, or closet! I am talking about your mind. We collect lots of mental garbage gradually over time, making the most optimistic individual question. Our messy mental collection begins to clutter our minds with negative thoughts, irrational thoughts, unreasonable ideas, and unhelpful solutions. Before we know it, our minds can be compared to the landfill our regular garbage collectively goes.

How can we sort this out? Anything worth recycling? What about renewing and reuse? Our minds need to be added to our chore list before our thinking turns from healthy to sloppy! It’s time to talk to someone you can trust to recycle your thoughts into positives! I always start with God.

“Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Philippians 4:8

My daughter is an excellent special education teacher. I am her mother, so you know I will say that, but many others do as well. The parents, students, and staff she works with share the same thoughts. She, as well as many other educators, are struggling. They are not the only professional groups struggling. The jobs they do are challenging as they pour their hearts into them, but when you add all of this “drama” and divisions, it becomes more difficult. She wonders where all of this hate, division, and power control comes from that is influencing confusion daily.

It is essential to follow the science but not the scientists. Science is a foundation constant with no biases. Opinions, prejudices, and funders influence scientists.

The foundation of values, beliefs, and laws are the truths that formed our country. Many have fought, lost their lives to continue to maintain its foundation and to improve the quality for all. The Constitution of the United States provides our guidance as our foundation.

Daily we have many thoughts provided to us. We can listen to all of the opinions, ideas, and talking points. It is in our control on the action steps we take with what is presented. We do not need to spend hours thinking about them or becoming angry. Just take out the trash! Recycle those negative thoughts into positive ones. This is a healthy choice! Take one step further. Do some positive actions to help react to negative effects. We need more positives! Can we provide those who are doing all the talking with more positives to talk about? I don’t know about you, but I am tired of taking out the trash!

The Needs

When you wake up in the morning, the needs hit you right away! You have the need to get to the bathroom, find coffee, food of some kind, and find out the needs of the world around you!

If you have pets, children, spouses, or others in need of your attention, then you are already running late! It would help if you had been up hours ago, or maybe getting sleep is overrated. I was kidding!

I think you understand we live in a world where “the need” is at an all-time high. However, I believe need has been confused with some other words to make life harder for all of us.

A need is something to help provide a safe and healthy environment. We need clean air, water, land, food, clothes and safe environments in order to live. We may want to have the latest version of television, phone, gaming system, shoes from famous brands, and others wants. These wants and wishes are not essential to our health and well-being.

I, like many others, felt the loss of loved ones during the global pandemic. I did not feel the loss within my family, but distant relatives and friends. The needs of others were at an all-time high. We are so lucky to live in this country so needs could be met. Even then, it was not enough as we saw politics get in the way.

There is still a need and even bigger needs in our country. It is so important to look through all of the lenses to see the needs. When looking for solutions, you should always look at all viewpoints to fully understand.

One word echoes through clearly when we talk about addressing difficult topics…..the word is fear. Fear of the cancel culture, being labeled, having negative things said about you, and the list goes on. Well, I will tell you all of that can be true.

Assuming the responsibility of being a leader is a big job. If it were so great and easy, everyone would be one! I have been beaten up (not literally, although it felt like it) several times. Remember “the need.” Behavior is driven by need. Always start with why and what. Why are they?… What do they need?…

When you are faced with these situations it is easy to fall in line with similar behaviors of anger. Pause and remember not to take it personally (trust me, I know it is hard). There is always a reason behind the actions and reactions we take to situations we face. Everyone has a story.

I always like to reflect on words from Mother Teresa. She always provides me with the wisdom I “need.”

“See how nature-trees, flowers, grass-grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”~Mother Teresa

The world’s noise can be so loud we cannot hear the sounds of the needs calling from those so close to us. If we are quiet for a few moments, we can clearly hear the sounds coming from their hearts…the need! I hear the call, To be one nation under God. A desire to all live together in peace, harmony–equally in a safe and secure environment.

We have survived so much, won many battles, achieved so much, and have so much more to do together. Listen to the silent voices as they speak. Watch for the ways you can begin to help as you build trusting relationships. Leaders can be found in many places, not always with a title.

I can SEE, but what do I SEE?

A picture is placed in front of you. What do you see?

What do you see in this picture?

Courtesy of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

It is an optical illusion that plays tricks on your vision. Our brain receives clues about the picture we see. The messages include depth, shading, lighting, and position to help interpret what we see. Does it stop with just these clues?

“It’s really important to understand we’re not seeing reality,” says neuroscientist Patrick Cavanagh, a research professor at Dartmouth College and a senior fellow at Glendon College in Canada. We’re seeing a story that’s being created for us.” https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/20978285/optical-illusion-science-humility-reality-polarization

“Most of the time, the story our brains generate matches the real, physical world — but not always. Our brains also unconsciously bend our perception of reality to meet our desires or expectations. And they fill in gaps using our past experiences.

All of this can bias us. Visual illusions present clear and interesting challenges for how we live: How do we know what’s real? And once we know the extent of our brain’s limits, how do we live with more humility — and think with greater care about our perceptions?” https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/20978285/optical-illusion-science-humility-reality-polarization

Horse or seal? Which do you see? Can you see both? The study was completed with a test group; they gave points for seeing farm animals and took points away for seeing sea animals. They were seeing if this would influence outcomes by providing an incentive. It is included in the article link.

The bottom line is, we see what we want to see. Our life experiences have a role in our vision and biases. These can cloud or enhance our vision based on our approach to situations. My parents did not have a chance to attend school and were uneducated. I am biased in making sure All children have opportunities to attend school and receive an education.

I can recall several times in my lifetime where I have seen racism used against others and then used to attack me unjustly. A positive solution was reached in all cases, but I know not all situations work out this way. This is troubling to me. In one situation that I can reflect on today was a case of intimidation. I was notified that a relative of a student I had disciplined would be flying in from Washington, D.C., to talk to the Superintendent and myself. He was a lawyer and believed my discipline was based on racism due to my skin color and his nephews.

The meeting was scheduled, and everyone was present, including my student, Joe. I never like to hold conferences without students if they are the topic of conversation.

“It seems Mrs. Yoho, after I investigated you, I have discovered a great deal of information as I talked with the community.”

“Well, I did not know I was being investigated, but I will be happy to hear what you have discovered.”

“It seems you are involved with the community; I found that no one thinks you are a racist, and I spoke to a gentleman named Tim Blank who said he worked with you for years and you treat everyone the same with high standards.”

“Glad to hear all of that information, but I think Joe could have told you himself all of that information. My focus is on Joe. Joe, please tell your uncle how it works at SVMS.”

“There are two rules. Everyone who walks through the doors will feel good about being there and will feel safe. So we can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution; the choice is ours to make. If we are part of the problem, the solution is in the handbook. We find which rule we broke, feel good or feel safe.”

“It works well for us if we stop and think about these two rules and then focus on being part of the solution. We can work on a plan together to help Joe.”

Thankful we could “see” things together to develop a plan. It is my hope we can continue to look at solutions without biases. Focusing on a problem, then sidetracking by creating additional problems, never provide a solution for our original issue.

Vision is a complex system in our brain. When we see with our eyes, we are very hesitant to believe something different even when told it was wrong. Magicians are so fascinating to many of us for all of their illusions!

Today’s blog post is not to tell you not to believe in the reality you see, but to be open to listening to the other views. Politicians are masterful in creating illusions for us to see to capture the vote. It is always up to the person casting a vote to see through the tricks and optical illusions to get what is best.

Right now, I believe we have several systems in need of repair as vision problems are occurring. Work together to repair the vision so everyone can “see” focusing on a problem by creating more problems is not the solution for better vision.

ACTION STEPS

  • Meet with your team, test their vision
    • What do we see as our priority?
    • What is one thing we can improve today to help everyone feel good and safe about being here?
    • One word to describe us____________.
  • Develop a vision board
    • In a safe place, post a Vision Board with the following ideas of things people can post.
      • 20/20 Vision-Ideas to keep us focused
      • Picture perfect vision-random pictures of staff working on positive vision work.
      • Great insight!-Positive messages.
      • Eye know we can see clearly with___________.
  • Organize special teams
    • Visitor Team- welcoming in others to, learn and observe our Vision approach.
    • Innovation Team-creating new ideas to keep our vision alive and moving forward.
    • Skill Team-maintaining skill development and training to facilitate our goals. Keeping new staff informed and increasing our capacity.
    • Inspiration Team-keeping up the motivation of all teams by providing celebration, incentives and daily goals.
    • Open Communications Team-organizing communications chains to ensure all voices are heard and informed.
    • Navigation Team-keeping a GPS of our goals and roadmap for our vision.