Avoiding Teacher Bias and Erroneous Beliefs

Teachers are human and have their own beliefs about education and students. Some of these beliefs are positive and benefit their students. However, almost every teacher has his own personal biases that he needs to avoid. Following are six potentially damaging forms of teacher bias that you should avoid in order to provide your students with the best education possible.

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Some Students Can't Learn

Teacher Helping Students with Writing Assignment
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How sad is it that some teachers hold this view. They write off students who aren't keeping up or advancing. However, unless a student has a serious intellectual disability, she can learn pretty much anything. The issues that seem to prevent students from learning are generally tied to their backgrounds. Do they have the prerequisite knowledge for what you're teaching? Are they getting enough practice? Are real-world connections present? These and other questions need to be answered to get to the root of the problem.

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It Is Impossible to Individualize Instruction

Individualizing instruction means meeting the individual learning needs of each child. For example, if you have a class with a few advanced students, a group of average students and a handful of students who require remediation, you would meet the needs of each of these groups so that they all can all succeed. This is difficult, but it is possible to achieve success with such a disparate group. However, there are teachers who do not think that this is possible. These teachers decide to focus their instruction on one of the three groups, allowing the other two to learn as they may. If they focus on the lower achievers, the other two groups can just skate by in class. If they focus on the advanced students, the lower students either need to figure out how to keep up or fail. Either way, students' needs are not being met.

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Gifted Students Need No Extra Help

Gifted students are typically defined as those who have an IQ above 130 on a standard intelligence test. Advanced students are those enrolled in honors or advanced placement classes in high school. Some educators think that teaching these students is easier in that they don't require as much assistance. This is inaccurate. Honors and AP students require just as much help with difficult and challenging subjects as students in regular classes. All students have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Students who are gifted or are in honors or AP classes may still have learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

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High School Students Require Less Praise

Praise is a key part of helping students learn and grow. It allows them to see when they are on the right track. It also helps build their self-esteem. Unfortunately, some high school teachers do not feel that older students require as much praise as younger students. In all cases, praise should be specific, timely and authentic.

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A Teacher's Job Is to Present the Curriculum

Teachers are handed a set of standards, a curriculum, that they are required to teach. Some teachers believe that their job is simply to present the students with the material and then test their comprehension. This is too simplistic. The teacher's job is to teach, not present. Otherwise, a teacher would simply assign students a reading in the textbook and then test them on the information. Sadly, some teachers do just that.

A teacher needs to find the best method for presenting each lesson. Since students learn in different ways, it is important ​to facilitate learning by varying your instructional techniques. Whenever possible, make connections to reinforce student learning, including:

  • Connections to the real world
  • Connections to other courses
  • Integration of previously learned information
  • Personal relevance to students

Only when educators provide students with a way to latch on to the material will they truly be teaching.

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Once a Bad Student, Always a Bad Student

Students often get a bad reputation when they misbehave in one or more teachers' classes. This reputation can carry over from year to year. As teachers, remember to keep an open mind. Student behavior can change for a variety of reasons. Students might get along better with you personally. They might have matured during the summer months. Avoid prejudging students based on their past behavior with other teachers.

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Your Citation
Kelly, Melissa. "Avoiding Teacher Bias and Erroneous Beliefs." ThoughtCo, Oct. 9, 2021, thoughtco.com/avoiding-teacher-bias-and-erroneous-beliefs-8407. Kelly, Melissa. (2021, October 9). Avoiding Teacher Bias and Erroneous Beliefs. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/avoiding-teacher-bias-and-erroneous-beliefs-8407 Kelly, Melissa. "Avoiding Teacher Bias and Erroneous Beliefs." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/avoiding-teacher-bias-and-erroneous-beliefs-8407 (accessed June 3, 2023).