Hedreich Nichols

February 2021

I Like What You Like, You Like What I Like

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

Small Bites Friday Five 2-26-2

20-30m – Explore this article by David Palank to see how likely it is that halo bias influences your teaching (spoiler alert, a lot). Then choose two strategies to mitigate your own biases, like grading anonymously or ALWAYS using a written rubric. Finally, reflect on a time when the halo effect likely played a part in a decision you made.

15-20m – Start with your youngest learners using this rich well of art and literary projects. Mandisa’s website is designed for toddlers but the projects can be easily scaled up for PK-4.

10-15m – Use this Precious Children article from PBS to help you understand why teaching acceptance is important early on, then prepare at least one of the activities for your class or personal kids and grands. My favorite line, “If your group is not diverse, display images of diversity in your community or in U.S. society.”

5-10m – Review this Nielson Group article that explains halo bias and think about how it affects your teaching.

0-5m –  Write down 5 people you know who you attribute certain traits to. For example, Kevin is tall, he must play basketball; or My co-teacher is really pretty, she must have been popular in high school. Now, write down all the reasons your assumptions might be false.

Did you know that mirroring is a real thing in which people subconsciously mimic the affectations of those they like? And even among invertebrates, there is sexual mimicry in which one sex imitates the other sex to signal interest. If you are a scientist or social scientist, you are probably cringing right now. But for us lay persons, I think the gist is clear. Imitation is more than the sincerest form of flattery, it’s how we align ourselves with those we admire.

If we like someone, we also imitate, or at least buy into, their beliefs and values. And usually, if we believe one thing that they believe, we tend to believe it all. We also tend to minimize or write off any negatives or character flaws. Conversely, if we don’t like someone, we are likely to magnify their faults, disavowing them and whatever they stand for.

We see this play out in politics, but how does this play out in education? Well, in the hundred and one discretionary decisions you make daily, it can affect students in a million and one small and large ways. For example, if you like a student, you might be tempted to round up in grading, if you dislike a student, you may round down, or just not round up. If a student impresses you, you are likely to recommend them for awards, AP courses, write reference letters, etc. If you don’t particularly fancy them, you might write them a college letter, but will it be glowing? The adjectives you choose are more likely to be based on your feelings about the student than on performance or achievement.

We say, know better, do better. But that is more than a notion unless you are committed to being a reflective practitioner in a very real, honest-with-yourself-until-it-hurts way. If you really want to be a change agent and make education better, be willing to start by taking stock of your feelings about each student. Start by reading this article, reflecting on how this bias played out in your classroom today; then make plans to course correct.

That’s how real change begins, with you doing your best for each child in front of you. Make it concrete: Read, reflect, make your own plan to be more intentional in dealing with the students you support now.

I Like What You Like, You Like What I Like Read More »

Dirty Laundry

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

Small Bites Friday Five 2-19-21

20-30m – Watch Jay Smooth’s Media Literacy crash course that delves into media strategies, our reactions to those tricks and our biases. Watch them all if you have time. If not, watch #2, #4 and #5. These are great for you, but can also be watched with a class. 

15-20m – Read this Parent’s Guide to Media Literacy from the National Association for Media Literacy and Education (NAMLE). It features sample questions for analyzing media like who made it, why was it made and how might different people interpret it. It’s also in Spanish and even Greek, if you need it.

10-15m – Reflect on the information in the above document and jot down any personal tweaks you need to make in your own media consumption. Then consider send your favorite section or even a class sketchnote of your favorite section home to parents.

5-10m – Review this Time For Kids resource for use with younger students, or this Media Smarts Break the Fake resource that includes 4 easy ways to fact check and share with friends and family.

0-5m –  Learn the words dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and watch this Above the Noise video on the brain and fake news to learn how to circumvent the way our brains react to news. Probably best with 6-12th graders he says BS (the letters, not the words) in the video. Ooohhhh…

Something dark in human nature makes us like to watch others suffer. The lions and the Christians in the Coliseum; shoot ’em ups; shocking and bad news; social media rants. America’s Funniest Home Videos and even the rash of prank Tiktoks indulge our darker side, give us the opportunity to assure ourselves that we are not as bad off as those we ridicule.

Media takes advantage of that. A message is always crafted by one person with an agenda. From the early days of yellow journalism to today’s polarized news outlets, someone crafts messages to manipulate the masses. We don’t think of our democracy as being ruled by the messages of propaganda, but considering how polarized we are and how news is as much opinion, analysis and editorial content as anything else, we should think again. So much content is needed to fill up the current 24 hour thirst for dirty laundry that we have gotten used to opinion pieces being front page news and incendiary headlines being fact.

The only thing I would like you to do this week is to watch 5 minutes of news daily from an outlet you don’t usually watch. Refrain from making negative comments or judgments. Research what you hear, if you like. But work on tweaking your own media consumption habits so that when you teach civics and citizenship–which should happen daily– you will be able to teach your students to think critically, not to think like you.

Dirty Laundry Read More »

Never Too Late Pt. II

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor or wherever podcasts are heard.

Small Bites Friday Five 2-12-21

20-30m – Explore the resources for teaching media literacy with these non-partisan Civics Renewal Network resources for 6-12. Choose one to use in your next class.

15-20m – Research the critical thinking standards for your content in your state. Teaching civic responsibility, citizenship, communication and critical thinking are connected to every content.

10-15m – Use this resource from Discovering Justice to help you teach principles of community and fairness to your K-5 students. There are also resources there for older students.

5-10m – If you have littles, or older kids with a sense of humor, use Sesame Street videos like these to ease into topics like conflict, feelings or social responsibility. Talk in general about what types of behaviors are not ok and how those behaviors are wrong even if someone we respect is doing them.

0-5m – Use 60 Second Civics for yourself or with your upper grade level students.

Please use this week to read or re-read last week’s blog. Teaching civic responsibility is not political, it’s our duty. Take a closer look at the resources, and I will be watching my Twitter and Insta DMs for any questions you might have.

Never Too Late Pt. II Read More »

Never Too Late

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor or wherever podcasts are heard.

Small Bites Friday Five 2-5-20

20-30m – Explore 3 Steps to Civil Discourse in this 8-page socialstudies.org document containing strategies for grades 4-12. It’s intended for older students but many of the strategies can be adapted for younger classes. Begin with the first strategy, start with yourself.

15-20m – Read this Kristy Louden guest blog from Cult of Pedagogy on teaching argument, early, often, across content.

10-15m – Prepare lessons 2 and 3 from Naomi Drew and Christa Tinari’s Create a Culture of Kindness in Middle School document. Again, the lessons can be adapted for older and younger students.

5-10m – Prepare lesson 8 from the above document.

0-5m – Make a list of the 3 worst case scenarios and outcomes in case a discussion gets off track. Consider the actual probability of them happening and how you can prepare for each.

If you teach littles, it’s fairly easy to navigate the daily strife and disagreements of primary school life. Be kind, say you’re sorry, hug it out, or these days, air high five.

If you teach middles or above, the waters are murkier. Hormones and hatred seem to bloom, with “kindness matters” giving way to toxic online–and even f2f–behaviors. Getting students to buy into the whole “cool to be kind” thing is not an easy task, especially if you didn’t build strong class culture early on.

Still, as the Pinterest poster says, “we do hard things”. Difficult is not the same as impossible. Whether you require a talking stick, arguing only the argument you are personally against or writing in silence when topics are fraught with conflict, it’s never too late to remind students that citizenship, respect, civil disagreement are what keep groups strong. I tell my middles, “school is hard enough without making each other’s life more difficult. Only small people want to be responsible for someone else’s pain” It’s a start.

The impeachment trial is starting and it is imperative that you use the opportunity to teach students to respect each other’s right to have a different opinion. That starts with setting ground rules and being an active, but neutral facilitator.

We all know the adage about opinions; we all have them and they don’t always need to be heard. Students can learn to voice their own opinions without offering commentary on the opinions of others. Then, you can build from there. Students need to learn how to talk about sensitive issues and since we are educators, we teach. If we want to prepare our students for a world full of conflict beyond the classroom walls, we have to be ready to teach them how to respectfully navigate the waters of conflict within them.

Never Too Late Read More »