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How to Confront Your Personal Biases

Guest post by Lacey Carter, CCC-SLP, in partnership with eLuma Online Therapy.

Personal biases - Blue background. Two wooden cubes sitting on piles of coins on opposite ends of a teeter totter. The left cube is the one on the ground because it has more coins underneath.

As professional educators, it’s easy to get too comfortable telling others how to learn and grow without holding ourselves to the same standard. We should be more like the children we work with: sponges for new information, unafraid to ask questions, and ready to contribute something incredible to the world! Once we adopt this mindset, we’re ready to re-examine and eliminate our personal biases.

Our biases are shaped by our professional and personal experiences, our upbringing, and our community. Because biases can be woven into the fabric of our being, they may have seemed entirely normal until we were forced to take a closer look.

In his book The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person, author Frederick Joseph interviews Toni Adenle, who states, “By having an expectation of what’s normal, people build an assumption that anything else is abnormal.” No amount of education, experience, or expertise negates the fact that we all hold long-running thoughts and patterns that do not serve a greater good.

By having an expectation of what’s normal, people build an assumption that anything else is abnormal.

– Toni Adenle

So what do we do? Although it feels easier to stay the same, when our status quo oppresses others, we have to change. We can follow Adenle’s simple request, “…to protect one another and learn from one another…to turn “different” into the new normal, and then tell others to do the same.”

Let’s talk about how to put this advice into practice:

Confronting your personal biases head-on

  • Talk to people from all different walks of life. Ask important questions to show you care. Example questions:
    • Do you want to talk about _____?
    • How did _____ make you feel?
    • Did anyone step in when _____?
    • Did anyone apologize for _____?
    • Did you have anyone to talk to when ____?
    • Is there anything I can do to support you right now?
  • Simply listen. 
  • Be accountable. People who have been marginalized and mistreated are not responsible for your learning and growth. 
  • Move forward through the discomfort and seek to learn. Engage in media that exposes you to different perspectives: podcasts, books, news organizations, and even hashtags.
  • Speak up if you witness wrongdoing.
  • Insist on diversity and inclusion inside and outside the workplace
  • Rinse, repeat. Don’t stop.

I encourage you to dig deeper into understanding what biases you may hold. Once you lean into and push past the discomfort, you’ll likely find peace, confidence, and incredible strength. Best of all, your changes will help create greater momentum toward true equality, equity, and healing.

Want to learn more about biases and how to confront yours? Try these free resources:

The Social Learning Platform has been a true life saver for me, both with time management (I can easily filter exactly what I need from a wealth of choices) and materials that are of exceptional quality and interest to students of all ages. I love how I can create folders of specific materials for each student and I can easily screen share and have the videos, games and worksheets on the screen for my students to engage with.

– A. Waldmann, M.S., CCC-SLP
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