It Starts With Teachers

As teachers, children watch us constantly and often mimic our actions. This is why teachers need to be conscientious about their actions throughout the classroom. Teachers have their own opinions and biases about the world around them. If they are not careful these biases can be brought into the classroom and effect the students. I think it is important for future teachers to reflect on their life experiences and opinions so that they are prepared to be equitable teachers. Overall, this makes for a better learning environment.

 

Equity vs Equal

Equality is the notion that everyone needs the same thing to be successful. It is viewed as fair because each person receives the same thing. Is equality fair? No! In the equality side of the picture, three people are trying to watch a baseball game. They each have one crate to stand on to see, but not everyone can see the game. In the classroom, equality assumes that every student is the same and starts at the same place.

Equity is the notion that everyone is different and needs different things to be successful. Everyone does not need the same thing, but they everyone is given the things they need to be on an equal playing field. In this side of the picture, the tallest person does not need a box because they are tall enough to see the game over the fence. The shortest person needs two boxes to see the game. This way everyone can see the game! In the classroom, equity gives each student the things for s/he to be successful. This is not the same as any other student. Differentiation is key! It is hard for us to view this as fair because students are given unequal amounts to help everyone succeed.

Why should classrooms be equitable?

  • Creates high level learning
  • Gives all students the chance to succeed
  • Lets students to empower themselves
  • Allows students to see differences in each other
  • Student learn from each others experiences

How do we create equity in the classroom?

Creating a student teacher relationship is important in creating a equitable classroom. It allows teachers to learn about their students and shows students the teacher cares about their success. Each student comes into the classroom with different experiences, backgrounds, and knowledge. These things are the reasons why students need different things to learn.

Minorities in an equitable classroom

The majority of the time minorities (examples: lower income families, women, African Americas) tend to fall behind in an equal classroom. Their backgrounds and challenges are not taken into account during the learning.

Examples:

  • The teacher gives a math problem about the length of a yacht. A student from a lower income family may have never seen a yacht before and can not understand the question.
  • The teacher tells Jimmy, a Caucasian student, to quiet down for talking too loudly in class. The next day the teacher yells at Deron, an African American student, to go to the office because he is talking too loudly.
  • The teacher tells the boys in the class that they used critical thinking to solve the problem correctly. Whereas the teacher normally only comments on the girls behaviors in class.

Not having an equitable classroom can hinder the success of all students. It is important to look at each student as an individual learner and do whatever you can to help students be on a even playing field. This is a great way for students to become confident in themselves and promotes future success within students.

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4 Responses to It Starts With Teachers

  1. angelokm says:

    Hayley,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I thought it was great that many people used that picture in their blogs. I thought my last video was good at showing the problem with girls and STEM. It helps my readers understand why equity is important in the classroom. To answer your question, I think that the teacher should have made the math problem relatable to all of the students. Maybe making the math problem about the length of the school so that all students have a understanding. As for the situation where the African American was kicked out of the classroom when speaking too loud, I would have handled it the same way as the Caucasian boy. I would also encourage girls to think critically and be proud of their academic achievements. Overall, just treat every student with respect and try to avoid biases.

    Katin

  2. johns708 says:

    Katin-
    It’s awesome that you use that graphic for differentiating equity vs. equality. I’ve seen it in a few other blog posts so it’s cool to see how our class’s ideas are similar! The last youtube video you added is interesting and eye-opening to see these young girls that notice the inequality in science and that they notice how mostly men are used to be the face of STEM fields. What would be a better solution to the examples you gave where students are treated differently by the teacher? Or what would you personally do differently?

  3. angelokm says:

    Meghan,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I agree that an un-equitable classroom will leave some students behind and not engage some students enough. Teachers need to make sure that every student is getting what they need to succeed. This starts with the student-teacher relationship. Teachers need to understand each students needs and backgrounds. As humans, teachers have their own opinions and biases which can hinder a classroom environment.

    Katin

  4. mulligmg says:

    Great videos and visuals, Katin!
    Assuming students all start at the same place will only help students who are actually at that starting place, and it leaves behind everyone else. I think that student-teacher relationship is an important starting point in making the classroom equitable. I also like what you mentioned about leaving biases out of the classroom. It can be hard to do, but it’s important to opening up the classroom to everyone, and allows you to get to know your students well.

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