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“How Educators’ Implicit Bias Stifles Neurodivergent Learners”

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During a recent training session I led on inclusion and learning differences in the classroom, I posed the following question – a tough one – to the teachers in the audience: “Raise your hand if, upon discovering that you have a neurodivergent student in your class, your immediate, unfiltered thought is a negative one?”I clarified: “Do you assume, for example, that the student’s learning difference may add to your workload or disrupt the class in some way?”A few teachers reluctantly raised their hands.Then I asked, “And how many of you, upon finding out that you will be teaching a neurodivergent student, readily think, ‘This is great!

I’m going to be able to really take advantage of some of the strengths of their brain.’” Cue lots of bowing heads and sheepish looks.As a teacher of 24 years, I know that less-than-favorable unconscious (and sometimes conscious) attitudes absolutely exist within the education system toward students with learning differences.

To be clear, I also know that the majority of teachers have benevolent intentions and want the best for their students.Still, the longstanding approach in education systems has been that there is a core group of students that educators teach, and then there are “others” who require differentiated learning materials to accommodate their separate needs.

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