Equity, Bias, and Representation across the methodology
As our country grapples with racial injustice, equity, and explicit and implicit biases, we, as authors and publishers, find ourselves in a place of reflecting upon how we can play a greater role in eliminating systemic and unconscious biases in race, gender, and neurodiversity within the materials we produce. While Think Social Publishing has worked to address diversity and representation in our illustrations and curricula over the past decade, we know we need to do better to eliminate unconscious bias. We recognize that some of our books and products still contain images or references that must be changed. We accept this as our responsibility and will continue to evolve components of the methodology to reflect our awareness and our values. We are committed to providing teaching materials where teachers, students, therapists, clients and families see themselves in the images we use.
To that end, we are actively re-illustrating and evaluating language and images containing implicit biases in:
- Zones of Regulation curriculum: While the updated images are in process, we will offer FREE downloadable images from the storybook set, The Road to Regulation and Regulation Station. These images represent diverse characters that can be used while teaching core information from The Zones of Regulation Curriculum.
We have already updated images and language or are in the process of updating images and language in other components of the methodology:
- You are a Social Detective (completed 2020)
- Zones of Regulation Tools to Try Cards (completed 2021)
- Zones of Regulation Storybooks (completed 2021)
- We-Thinkers! Curriculum (images 2021; upcoming 2022)
- Superflex Curriculum (In process 2021)
- Social Fortune/Social Fate (upcoming 2022)
This is a dynamic process that is ongoing and will likely touch all aspects of our work. We will continue to seek input from diverse communities and will edit, re-illustrate, and reevaluate, as we commit to providing culturally competent teaching and culturally sensitive materials to support social and emotional learning.
The following strategies are adapted from The Team at The Zones of Regulation ©2020. www.zonesofregulation.com.
Culturally Responsive School CLIMATE Strategies:
- Value the variety of brain strengths and different types of intelligences that social learners use to learn and relate.
- Build authentic relationships with students and families through active listening.
- Consider implicit bias when discussing expected or unexpected behaviors, whole body listening, The Zones of Regulation™, Superflex® and Unthinkables®, Thinkables®, or any of the other Social Thinking® Vocabulary or treatment framework among staff.
- Carefully examine classrooms (in-person and online), school environment, and district systems around behavioral interventions through an equity lens.
- Consider practices around authentic and functional inclusion of ALL students rather than inclusion based on “inclusion initiatives.”
- Create a culture where taking care of one another’s social emotional needs is valued.
Culturally Responsive TEACHING Strategies:
- Discuss how people may differ in perceiving feelings and behaviors. Discuss how people differ in responding to others’ feelings and behaviors.
- Use imagery and media that are representative of, and relevant to, diverse racical, cultural, and gender differences.
- Avoid adopting imagery/media that are not directly affiliated with Think Social Publishing’s copyright and trademark. (PLEASE BE AWARE that many materials found online such as downloadables (free or for purchase) on TeachersPayTeachers.com are not authorized by Think Social Publishing. Many of the materials posted not only violate copyright and trademark laws, but are not consistent with our recommended instruction. Be very wary as the majority of materials do NOT represent the values and intentions of Think Social Publishing, nor do they meet our standards for instructional fidelity. Use similar caution with materials created by individuals not affiliated with Think Social Publishing, found on internal school servers, or shared via online learning systems.
- Always use visual supports to increase accessibility for students at all stages of language and cognitive development. Visual supports are also considered to be best practice when using any component of the Social Thinking® Methodology.
- Collaborate with students to create scenarios for practice/role play that are relevant to their lives. Have students establish their own social goals.
- Discuss context, perception, and implicit bias when teaching about expected/unexpected behaviors, whole body listening, your zones, Unthinkables® or Thinkables®, Superflex® strategies, or any other Social Thinking® Vocabulary.
- Consider your own implicit biases related to your definition of an expected or unexpected behavior based on your culture, family, gender identity, or race.
- Consider that your approach of how to address unexpected behaviors for a specific situation may differ for those in marginalized or historically oppressed communities.
- Do not force students to check-in with their emotions or behavior, especially if they are in an elevated state.
- Do not insist or teach individuals they must use “eye contact.” Never demand or force a student to use eye contact as a social skill. Instead, teach that eyes, ears, and brains are used to gather information about places, what’s happening, and people.
- Create a culture where staff and students support each other in using tools to meet their own social goals.
References and Further Reading
National Equity Project
Social Emotional Learning and Equity
The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program:
Pursuing Social and Emotional Development Through a Racial Equity Lens: A Call to Action
The Education Trust:
Social, Emotional, and Academic Development through an Equity Lens