What is Anti-Bias Education?

tell20me20and20i20forgot-learning20quoteI realized that I have talked a lot about anti-bias curriculum and I have not really defined it yet. So here we go. I have taken my definition and ideas from the book Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves by Louise Derman-Sparks and Julie Olsen Edwards. This is an AMAZING book that every educator should use as a resource to incorporate anti-bias curriculum into their teachings. The book provides four core goals:

  1. Each child will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities.
  2. Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity; accurate language for human differences; and deep, caring human connections.
  3. Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts.
  4. Each child will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/ or discriminatory actions.

If these goals seem to resonate with you check out the book found here: https://store.naeyc.org/store/anti-bias-education-young-children-and-ourselves

I have found many resources to be very informational for me. The book talks directly on many of the topics that I have covered like gender identity, family structures, and different abilities. The book goes on to talk about culture, economic class, holidays, and age groups..etc. Along with my learning about anti-bias education, I have really focused on positive discipline. Jane Nelson the Positive Discipline I have attached a video of her explaining the five criteria for Positive Discipline. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-e4H2rsEww

I grew up with my parents using positive discipline and have used it myself in my teaching with youth. I find it to be really empowering for both my students and myself. I believe that it helps cultivates communication and encourages students to solve problems with their peers.

“Respect invites respect; disrespect invites disrespect”—Jane Nelsen

Key elements that I have learned from teaching and learning about Positive Discipline ( most of these concepts I learned while teaching at Life Lab):

  • All behaviors have a purpose
  • You can stop behaviors short-term but eventually they generally just end up cultivating into other undesirable behaviors.
  • Always think kindness and firmness
  • Always encourage mistakes, because that’s when learning takes place, let children explore and discover the world on their own terms.
  • Connect with your students, at the camp that I worked at we talked a lot about getting at the child’s level, use empathy, and give eye contact, essentially try to get into their world.
  • Ask questions! Come with questions! When helping children resolve issues, “ask, don’t tell—what, why how?”
  • When helping children resolve issues, describe what you see instead of just placing judgments on the problem.
  • Tone setting is amazing and can really help with transition time, which can be hard especially with young students.
  • Modeling!!! This is extremely important and sets the example.
  • Understanding impulse control
  • Utilizing I statements
  • Use listening skills
  • Use Do’s rather than Don’t – Don’t come in the room. Don’t open put your bag there. Don’t close the door. Instead say: Stay outside. Put your bag here. Leave the door open. Using this language makes it easier for children to follow. Children tend to not hear the “no” and just hear the second part of the statement and get confused when you get mad. It makes it easier to just tell the child what you want them to do, that way you will avoid confusion and conflict.

I love learning about this because it has helped me with all of my relationships in my daily life. My love for teaching has helped me continue to be a life long learner.


The Whole Child


A Covenant for Honouring Children

By Raffi

“We find these joys to be self-evident: That all children are created whole, endowed with innate intelligence, with dignity and wonder, worthy of respect. The embodiment of life, liberty and happiness, children are original blessings, here to learn their own song. Every girl and boy is entitled to love, to dream and belong to a loving “village.” And to pursue a life of purpose”

Child Honouring Principles

  • Respectful love
  • Diversity: “is about abundance: of human dreams, intelligences, cultures, and cosmologies; of earthly splendors and ecosystems. Introducing children to biodiversity and human diversity at an early age builds on their innate curiosity. There’s a world of natural wonders to discover, and a wealth of cultures, of ways to be human. Comforted by how much we share, were able to delight in our differences.”
  • Caring Community
  • Conscious parenting
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Nonviolence
  • Safe Environments
  • Sustainability
  • Ethical Commerce

To read more in detail as to what each principal means look at: http://www.childhonouring.org/whatwedo.html



What Makes a Family?




I really love this lesson plan; I believe that it brings up a great topic that engages all students because all students can relate to this topic. I have found in my own teachings that it is all too common to just assume that a child has a mom and a dad and make assumptions. By opening up this conversation students are given a space to not only gain language to talk about this but also a chance to learn about their fellow classmates. I found the videos that are included are a bit outdated but are very rich in information. This lesson plan encourages students to reflect on their home and consider and think about others family’s configurations. It is helping students see similarities and differences between themselves and other students. I learned a phrase from my boss and mentor, “we are all the same, and we are all different” the idea being to encourage students to notice and accept similarities and differences and celebrate them. I worked with 4-6 year olds at an amazing summer program where we might say, “see we all have hair, but my hair is dark brown and long, where your hair is blond and short. We are the same because we both have hair but the color and length is different.” Little things like this begin the dialogue to notice that we have so many similarities and so many differences. I find it really important to help children notice them, but also to celebrate them. I was also really impressed that this lesson plan included teaching how to give constructive feedback. This is a great skill that students will need for the rest of their life. This also could also be a great time to include ideas of how to receive feedback. This skill can be a much harder task, but is great to start learning at a young age.

Lastly I was really impressed when the lesson plan said, “as a class determine a criteria or rubric for a successful presentation” this is an amazing way to get students involved in the assessment process, it gives them authority to choose what they find most important and makes for a very democratic learning classroom.

Differing Abilities


Check out the lesson plant at:http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-47-summer-2014/feature/beautiful-differences

This lesson plan is really important to my studies. I really appreciate how this lesson focuses on having student explore and learning some of the difficulties that people with differing abilities face. The lesson plan articulates a really important point: “be sure to explain to each group that you are not expecting them to know everything about the disability or to become experts or representatives; rather, you are asking them to try to put themselves in the shoes of someone experiencing life with this disability.” This is essential, it is not about becoming an expert or thinking that they know everything about the disability, but just exploring some of the hurdles people with disabilities face everyday.

I found it to particularly interesting that the students are asked to come up with ways in which the world could change to make it more accessible for people with physical disabilities. I think that it’s really good for young students to be thinking about solutions and actions that could be taken to make life more accessible.


I found a beautiful book of poetry called Beauty is a Verb the new poetry of disability edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black and Michael Northen. Here are two poems that I felt spoke to many.


Poems with Disabilities

by Jim Ferris

I’m Sorry—this space is reserved

for poems with disabilities. I know

it’s one of the best spaces in the book,

but the Poems with Disabilities Act

requires us to make all reasonable

accommodations for poems that aren’t

normal. There is a nice space just

a few pages over—in fact (don’t

tell anyone) I think it’s better

then this one, I myself prefer it.

Actually I don’t see any of those

Poems right now myself, but you never know

when one might show up, so we have to keep

this space open. You can’t always tell

just from looking at them either, Sometimes

they’ll look just like a regular poem

when they roll in…you’re reading along

and suddenly everything

changes, the world tilts

a little, angle of vision

jumps, your entrails aren’t

where you left them. You

remember your aunt died

of cancer at just your age

and maybe yesterday’s twinge means

something after all. Your sloppy,

fragile heart beats

a little faster



by Laura Hershey

What you risk telling your story:

You will bore them.

Your voice will break, your ink will

spill and stain your coat.

No one will understand, their eyes

become fences.

You will park yourself forever

on the outside, your differentness once

and for all revealed, dangerous,

the names you five to yourself

will become epithets.

Your happiness will be called

bravery, denial.

Your sadness will justify their pity.

Your fear will magnify their fears.

Everything you say will prove something about

their god, or their economic system.

Your feeling, that change day

to day, kaleidoscopic,

will freeze in place,

brand you forever,

justify anything they decide to do

with you.

Those with power can afford

to tell their story

or not.

Those without power

risk everything to tell their story

and must.