Implicit Bias in Early Childhood Education: An ECCP Mini-Grant Spotlight

Pedroby Pedro Mendez, Clayton Early Learning

Two main issues that have been mainstreaming the media are race and culture; interestingly, these issues have been impacting young children for quite some time now. Even to the point that some stakeholders believe nothing is being done to resolve such critical issues.

The topics of race, culture, and bias are sensitive issues people feel unease discussing, and rightfully so. People do not want to be labeled or identified as being prejudice for something they might not be consciously aware. For educators who are charged with the growth and learning of young children this may be a fine line. Especially when dealing with something like implicit bias. Implicit biases are attitudes that function outside our conscious mind and that challenge even the most veteran of teachers. Whether we want to acknowledge or our bias or not, conscious or unconscious, it has an impact in the education children receive. It is our responsibility to better understand these attitudes so that we are better able to prepare teachers to empower all children.

The Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program (BECLP) was a gateway for my personal work around this topic. This work initially began as an investigation of achievement gaps of boys of color as part of my yearlong capstone work for BECLP. My work led me to have discussions with several stakeholders across Denver County.

The next step was to look at common themes that emerge from all my conversations. One of these themes was, bias, and the impact it had on children. This lead to a collaboration with the Early Childhood Colorado Partnership through a mini grant. This collaboration allowed us to explore implicit bias within our teaching staff and the impact it can have on children’s academic career. The Partnership was very involved through the process of our research and gave us the platform to collaborate with other organizations. It was a very enriching experience to learn and hear what other organizations were being challenged with as well as overcoming in their work. The Partnership allowed us to start collegial conversations on our campus and provided a first step in improving our cultural competency, and reflect about our inner self to better to serve families. My hope is that this work inspires others to look within and explore their inner self to better understand bias and the effect it has on program, practice implementation and the impact for children.

Read the full mini-grant report from Clayton Early Learning.