21 Leader preparation

“We teach who we are” (Palmer, 2017). At one-and-the-same-time Palmer’s words demand a challenging level of self-reflexivity and extend a liberating release from pretences. Experts in anti-racist pedagogy (Kishimoto, 2018) have heightened my awareness that I cannot invite my students into challenging discussions about oppressive systems as they relate to race, gender and social class as the scenes require unless I am intentional about authentically locating myself.  This requires preparation.

As a White, cis-gendered, well-educated, able-bodied, middle-class woman who has been shaped primarily by a Western European education system, my experiences usually map readily onto any “default option” that I encounter. Solely because of this social location, my personal experiences of negative implicit biases have tended to be limited. A high level of self awareness and authenticity is essential for teachers who want to invite their students to discover their own implicit biases in the classroom (Sukhera et al. 2018, Gonzalez et al. 2019) and I strive for this in my work.

My own social identity (the advantages, disadvantages, and privileges that shape who I am) informs not only what I will bring to this work as a teacher/facilitator but also how others will perceive me. Given this, I try to pay close attention to how the power that I hold as a White professor will impact student engagement in this material and remind myself that well-intentioned people can reinforce stereotypes and assumptions and often do it unconsciously. I could easily do this as well, especially if I am not paying attention and alert to this danger.  We talk a lot in this resource about what we have described as “haunting.” Being open to haunting my own assumptions and biases has been an important part of my own evolving journey as an educator.

Given the potential sensitive nature of this content, I also try to provide formal and informal opportunities for my students to check in. I have found that they are more likely to “check in” if I linger in a quiet space near the front of the classroom than if I invite them to make an appointment for office hours. “Lingering” has become an important part of my pedagogical strategy.

The resources are listed in this section have informed and shaped my own ideas and practice in important ways. I highly recommend them to other educators who want to do this work with their students.

A Guidebook to the Health Equity Curricular Toolkit: Focus on Facilitation Tips

This Guidebook to the Health Equity Curricular Toolkit offers strong ideas for facilitators as they prepare to engage in challenging discussions with students. The section on facilitation is excellent and has informed our own approach (see pg. 15 onward). They offer self reflection ideas for before the learning session, guidelines for discussion and “things to remember if things get tense.” We cite what they identify as their “most important” facilitation guideline here:

“The most important thing to remember is that your behavior is just as instructive as any content you provide. You are modeling the patience, compassion, curiosity and courage that you would like your participants to practice.

  1. Use your own mistakes as a transparent learning session. Apologize and recognize why what you said or did was painful or ignorant. Openly discuss the mistake you made and what biases reveal in your own self. Model that it’s ok to make mistakes; what’s most important is what we do afterwards.
  2. Be present. Don’t just plan what you’re going to say next. You are allowed to think after someone speaks, and it models thoughtful behavior for others to emulate.” (Starfield Summit, 2017, pg 17.)

Scholarship on Teaching Implicit Bias

Educators who are using this resource may want to look at some of the current scholarship in this area.

  1. Gonzalez, C. M., Lypson, M. L., & Sukhera, J. (2021). Twelve tips for teaching implicit bias recognition and management. Medical Teacher, 1-11.
  2. Gonzalez, C. M., Walker, S. A., Rodriguez, N., Noah, Y. S., & Marantz, P. R. (2021). Implicit Bias Recognition and Management in Interpersonal Encounters and the Learning Environment: A Skills-Based Curriculum for Medical Students. MedEdPORTAL, 17, 11168.
  3. Rodriguez, N., Kintzer, E., List, J., Lypson, M., Grochowalski, J. H., Marantz, P. R., & Gonzalez, C. M. (2021). Implicit Bias Recognition and Management: Tailored Instruction for Faculty. Journal of the National Medical Association.
  4. Gonzalez, C. M., Kim, M. Y., & Marantz, P. R. (2014). Implicit bias and its relation to health disparities: a teaching program and survey of medical students. Teaching and learning in medicine, 26(1), 64-71.
  5. Joseph, O. R., Flint, S. W., Raymond-Williams, R., Awadzi, R., & Johnson, J. (2021). Understanding Healthcare Students’ Experiences of Racial Bias: A Narrative Review of the Role of Implicit Bias and Potential Interventions in Educational Settings. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(23), 12771.



Haunting our Biases: Using Participatory Theatre to Interrupt Implicit Bias Copyright © 2022 by Kevin Hobbs; Michael Martin Metz; Nadia Ganesh; Sheila O'Keefe-McCarthy; Joe Norris; Sandy Howe; and Valerie Michaelson. All Rights Reserved.

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