I found the Sandlin’s points about bias to be deeply true in regards to how my own learning experiences can and will influence how I teach. My learning experiences are heavily entrenched in the traditional scheme of sitting in a room with other students who all face forward to a lecturer who pours information into our brains to be assimilated and regurgitated for a test. As a teacher candidate, I very much openly acknowledge that this bias can creep into how I teach. Fortunately, as a new teacher, I am still growing and learning as I develop my pedagogy. As I move forward, I foster the mindset that the process of growth means willingness to change.
After almost a semester’s worth of clinical practice, I have encountered and worked with many different educators who all possess very different dispositions and ideas on how teach. As a new science educator, I have been creating new materials and lesson plans designed around the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) standards which are drastically different from the previous standards. The shift in the new standards calls for building new curricula and adapting pedagogy. Understandably for many teachers, changing the way they teach can be a nerve-wracking and difficult experience as years of teaching in a particular way can ossify those habits and skills until it almost becomes second nature. As I keep this in mind, I have much greater empathy for teachers who demonstrate fear and unwillingness to change. For some, it is like riding a “backwards” bicycle where even a small change creates confusion, anxiety, and resentment because doing new things means failure and difficulty are par for the course.
While I do not have any concrete answers on how teachers can change their mindsets, I do know that for myself I must constantly challenge myself and seek growth, so that I do not get too stuck in my cognitive biases on what it means to teach and to learn.
Sandlin, D. (2015, April 24). The Backwards Brain Bicycle - Smarter Every Day 133 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFzDaBzBlL0