An Institute for Safe and Inclusive Schools Program
Creating Bias-Free Classrooms is a program that trains new teachers using live, improvisational theater to equip educators to build safe and inclusive learning environments. The program utilizes professional teenage and adult actors to bring to life classroom conflicts, offering teachers hands-on practice with effective techniques addressing bias-related bullying and harassment of students. The three different Creating Bias-Free Classrooms topics currently available--race, gender and sexual orientation--offer schools an opportunity to select trainings based on their teachers’ needs.
The need for hands on anti-bias training in schools has been underscored by countless studies, statistics and hate crime cases. Since 2000, California schools have been legally obligated to ensure that no student is harassed based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Teachers play a crucial role in preventing and stopping harassment, yet they do not get adequate training on how to intervene. Creating Bias-Free Classrooms was designed for K-12 educators in response to the ongoing need for effective and engaging solutions to harassment, bullying and hate-behavior aimed at students
Creating Bias-Free Classrooms uses the power of live theater to transport teachers into a contemporary classroom. The training sessions blend guided self-refection, facilitated dialogue and experiential learning, offering a highly effective, multi-faceted training approach.
Most importantly, Creating Bias-Free Classrooms encourages teachers to learn from one another. During each training session, information is shared between the training facilitator and the teachers-and between teachers themselves.
The stories, voices and scenarios presented in Creating Bias-Free Classrooms are inspired by years of interviews, group dialogues and experiences with youth and teachers. Key training components include self-assessment, critical thinking, skill building and student feedback.
Participating teachers listen to descriptive stories-shared in the form of a monologue by our adult actors portraying teachers-vividly detailing bias-related classrooms scenarios. Shared from the perspective of various teachers, each story details a classroom environment impacted by a form of bias--about sexual orientation, race or gender--and the teacher’s desire to remedy the situation. During each monologue, participating teachers use a confidential reflection tool to assess their abilities to effectively identify and handle the problem presented.
Participants have opportunities to step into the scenes and assume the role of the teacher, implementing their own approach to creating a bias-free classroom. This experiential learning segment offers teachers an opportunity to role play, trying out their own strategies and getting feedback from their colleagues within the safety of the training session, before they begin implementing strategies to combat bias-motivated behavior within their own classrooms.
Participating teachers watch our cast of trained adult and student actors bring two classrooms to life before their eyes.
During the five-minute scenes, teachers make mental notes on the acts of bias that occur in the classroom, and identify the appropriate moments and methods of intervention. After each scene, teachers brainstorm solutions with the help of a trained facilitator. The facilitator then coaches our adult actor on how to better handle the classroom situation.
With these suggestions in mind, the identical scene begins again and the students actors improvise their character’s likely reaction to the teacher, who is now equipped with new classroom management strategies. Teachers see their feedback in action-for better or for worse-as the scene unfolds.
Participants will have an opportunity to hear from our cast of high school actors as they share vital information about creating safe spaces for students impacted by bias.
Together, the students will summarize some of the key learnings of the training, sharing some practical strategies - along with a couple of common pitfalls - for teachers to consider when working to create safer classrooms.
Creating Bias-Free Classrooms is designed to support teachers' classroom management abilities by offering them a unique hands-on opportunity to discuss and practice establishing safe, equitable and bias-free learning environments. This preparation includes:
Knowing Their Responsibility
Participating teachers will learn their mandated responsibility to create safe and equitable classrooms for students who are experiencing bullying and other forms of harassment.
Developing and Practicing Strategies
Participating teachers will gain hands on practice identifying and addressing bias directed toward sexual orientation, gender or race in order to create safer learning environments for students.
Sparking a Commitment to Inclusion
Participating teachers will develop a stronger commitment to confronting bias in their classrooms and to creating safe and inclusive environments.
Assessing on Their Abilities
Participating teachers will reflect upon their current comfort and effectiveness addressing bias issues.
Understanding What is at Stake
Participating teachers will gain a clear understanding of the why confronting bias is a vital part of contemporary classroom management.
Since its inception, Creating Bias-Free Classrooms has worked exclusively with the finest student actors from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA).