Equity Journey Month Five - January


Month 5: Implicit Bias

It Starts with US - Implicit Bias

Did you know? Recent science estimates that 95 percent of the activity in our brain is occurring unconsciously. This means that the majority of the decisions we make, our actions, our emotions, and our behaviors depend on brain activity that lies beyond conscious awareness. This month we will take a deeper dive into the concept of Implicit Bias, as this bias occurs at the unconscious level.

What is Implicit Bias?

"In order to create real change, we need to understand unconscious bias as a fundamental social justice issue that gives birth to all kinds of -isms in our society, not some stand alone concept that is nice-to-know."  - Michelle Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of Awaken (visionawaken.com).

Each and every one of us have implicit biases. They are natural parts of human brain activity. These biases can be defined as thoughts, feelings, or attitudes toward a person or group of people without our conscious knowledge. According to Perception Institute, we have a bias when (rather than being neutral) we have a preference for (or aversion to) a person or group of people. This concept is important because it can often predict how we'll behave more accurately than our conscious values. The following resources will help you develop more awareness around the concept of implicit bias as well as to your own biases. Implicit biases are learned over time yet can be disrupted with intention, attention, and time. Bringing awareness to the biases we may have is one of the biggest steps to minimizing microaggressions and creating a more inclusive society/classroom.

Resources for Learning:

Spotlight on Implicit Bias Efforts at District 86:

Throughout the summer of 2021 as well as during the 2021-2022 school year, training was provided for District 86 staff to gain more knowledge around the concept of implicit bias. Individual buildings have also had training specific to their building needs. These taringings defined the term, discussed the societal as well as educational impact, and reviewed District data to allow participants to reflect on the ways in which implicit bias may be impacting our practices in the classrooms.

Educators' Corner - Activities that may be useful:

In building teams, consider looking at your building data in regards to demographics and discipline. Do you notice any disproportionalities? Ho might implicit bias be impacting your data?

Consider having each staff member complete one of the IAT tests. The following questions may be helpful to brainstorm:

  • What did you learn, and what surprised you?
  • What feelings or reactions did you have upon learning your IAT results?
  • How might knowing your IAT results affect your future actions, decisions, both in the school setting as well as in other aspects of your life?
  • Consider how your background and personal experiences may have impacted your results.

Individually or within building teams, consider reading 7 Steps to: Mitigating Unconscious Bias in Teaching and Learning. What are areas of strength for you individually or as a building team? What are areas that you could improve upon?

Additional article for your reference: Understanding Implicit Bias - What Educators Should Know