To the Editor:
Kudos to Education Week and Education Week Teacher for the latest thinking on how teacher bias impacts learning (“Four Principles for Bias-Busting in the Classroom,” Education Week Teacher; “Under Pressure, Colo. Schools Forge New Path; and “‘Racial Mismatch’ Changes Teacher Expectations for Students, Study Finds,” Inside School Research blog).
Teachers need tools to help them connect with the cultures of their students in ways that affect the bottom line: student learning. Our organization, the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project, offers professional development training to public school teachers in how to create meaningful relationships with the families of their students, starting with a voluntary home visit. Building cultural competency and connection is a vital part of this process.
Bias-busting requires genuine engagement, I would argue. In order to build trust, our visits are scheduled in advance, in a setting where teachers do not have the institutional advantage.
A relationship-building approach such as this will lead to communication, trust, and accountability. Using what they learn from this relationship, both teachers and parents can become better educators and advocates for young people.
This approach helps teachers question their own biases. And that can only makes their classrooms more relevant to all of their students.
Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project
A version of this article appeared in the October 08, 2015 edition of Education Week as Build Teachers’ Cultural Competency Through Bias-Busting Home Visits