All Articles Tagged "teachers"
By Abigail Henry
Eric Holder stated that in his version of “the talk,” which he hoped not to have to “[hand] down,” that “as a father who loves his son and who is more knowing in the ways of the world, I had to do this to protect my boy.”
“The talk” is often defined as the dinner-table conversation that takes place between Black parents and their sons and/or daughters. It is the heartfelt and protective advice given by parents on what to do when encountering a police officer.
While “the talk” traditionally occurs in the homes and neighborhoods of Black families, it also, unintentionally or intentionally, occurs within educational settings. As an African-American history teacher, my responsibility is to give a very long-winded version of “the talk.” My job, my responsibility and the reason why I strive to serve well, is to provide students with the ability to be problem solvers and give back to their own communities despite ongoing oppression.
However, all teachers—not just those that teach African-American history—have the responsibility and can and should be held accountable, regardless of what curriculum he or she teaches, to at some point have a “talk” with students of color. The challenge is that for many educators this talk is given without possessing the necessary cultural competency to have a conversation that makes students feel safe and supported.
I’ve seen teachers give their mini-version of the talk. Most redirections we provide to Black students about behavior are our personalized adaptations of “the talk.” Every time a teacher addresses a Black student in the hallway about their uniform or in the classroom about the curse-word they just yelled, the teacher is adding to the story of this racially concerned conversation.
My concern is that when teachers ask a Black student “why are you late?” or to “take those headphones out of your ears!” they are unconsciously “talk”-ing at the student, without the required racial competency to have the conversation. These discussions require racial sensitivity, patience and preparation.
As I prepare for a new class of students in a few weeks, here is what I will do, and what I advise every other teacher to do to support positive racial identity development in our students.
You don’t have to be an African-American history teacher or one of the rare “minority” teachers to have your own racial “talk” tool-kit. You too can participate successfully in the conversation and help further protect and empower our students.
5 TIPS ON “THE TALK” AND POSITIVE RACIAL IDENTITY GROWTH
•When re-directing Black students, provide the explanation. Our students might want to engage in some behaviors when we don’t want them to, and our students want to test the limits (a natural and healthy part of human growth and development). Explain to students the impact of their choices and the reasons why you are asking them to change their behavior. Students are more likely to cooperate when they have been “explained-to” not “talked-at.”
•Growth Mindset is a must. Every time I get frustrated with a student, I check myself on a student’s pre-determined oppression circumstances. It’s not about just them. It’s also about me, and a particular institutionalized microcosm at that moment, and whether or not I can remain positive enough to get past my own frustration. There’s always another solution, another conversation, another intervention, that may help you be more successful with the student.
•Develop a racial positive affirmation with your students that you say regularly. Cheesy I know, and yet in my classroom we say before each lesson, “I am my present, my past, my future.” You don’t have to teach African-American history to say those words or develop an affirmation that routinely brings students together and supports a positive racial identity.
•Stop blaming the family all the time. This one is huge! And is more about that “talk” you have with yourself or another co-worker. Often times, as teachers, we say “well, she didn’t even get her cell phone taken away,” or “Can you believe he got suspended 2 days ago, and showed up to school with a new pair of sneakers this morning!” Remember, our families, our communities, quite often face oppressive circumstances. Many are truly looking to us as educators for guidance, support and meaningful partnerships, and most of all, solidarity in this struggle.
•Beware of the elephant. Don’t avoid acknowledging your privilege. Recognize how you, as a teacher, have had advantages that your students did not. How are your students’ experiences different from your own in high school? What implicit bias do you have that is holding you back from truly having a “talk” with your students of value? Even as a Black teacher, I work on this one every day.
Ultimately, as educators, we do have the responsibility to participate in “the talk.” The question is: Are you doing so in a productive way that supports positive racial identity growth?
For Black students, “the talk” is a part of their education and if educators could also be co-parents in the “talk,” think how much further students of color would be uplifted.
Abigail Henry is a secondary African-American history teacher at Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
A couple of days this week, I woke up to emails and Facebook messages from a Tracey Cox, Robert McCready, and full on harassment from Johnathan Bartles telling me I’m a “stupid racist.” About a year or so ago I sent my daughter to school with her curls out. Contrary to the self-hating sisters who commented below the article, curls mean curls in this instance. When I picked my daughter up from school her white teacher took it upon herself to “braid” my daughter’s hair.
Yes. this was a problem, and you can read all about it here.
No, I didn’t and still wouldn’t want a white teacher “doing” my daughters hair. Yes, it still would be an issue for me if the teacher was Black. My daughter’s hair was freshly washed and moisturized. She showed up to school with her hair done just as she did every other day.
The issue here that everyone is missing, partly due to my poor articulation, is that in 2016 Black girls are still being told their hair, and their appearance is substandard by Blacks, Whites, and others. It’s 2016 and Gabby Douglas is a highly-decorated Olympian yet all people can manage to say is she has bad edges and a bad attitude. It’s 2016 and Black girls and their families are still fighting school districts with POLICIES dictating and regulating how a Black child is allowed to wear their hair to school.
No one is telling Susan her is too long and must be worn in a bun, lest she face suspension. No one is telling Tommy he must cover his tattoos and get rid of his eccentric hairstyle lest he cannot walk at graduation. Andrew Jones however, the valedictorian was denied the privilege of walking his own graduation because he wore a beard. Maybe I am a stupid racist, maybe I’m reaching and this particular incident was innocent. There is, without a doubt, an undeniable compulsion from people who are not of color to control, regulate and police the physical appearance of people of color.
At the time, my daughter was about two-years-old, she was the only Black student in the entire daycare. There were no teachers of color at all. At two-years-old, daycare is where children learn and pick up many things from their interactions with their teachers and peers. I am always going to be “that mom” advocating for my daughter’s rights and self-esteem and confidence until she is knowledgeable and strong enough to do so on her own.
At almost 30-years-old, I’m working in a corporate, medical setting and I still hear white women say things like, “That’s your real hair? That’s not typical for you guys to have such long hair, right?”
Ignorance is truly bliss. To sit behind a screen in your home-office trying to berate and intimidate someone based off their personal experience must be nice. Unfortunately, I will not let you police me either. If you don’t like what the world has to offer stay in your gated-communities with limited perceptions of the social paradigms.
I am a Black woman who grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, and attended Clark Atlanta University in Georgia. I know very well what racism and microaggressions look like.
How would you react if your daughter’s teacher did her hair?
Last year, a photo was circulating on the internet of a little girl, who had just gotten her hair done by her teacher. To no one’s surprise this garnered reactions on both ends of the spectrum from the cyber world. As a mother, I was torn in my opinion of the situation, with no reason to think it could ever happen to me. As I read through the responses of Facebook friends, and their friends I thought, If I was a teacher, and a student came into class with her hair matted and linted, yes I would probably take it upon myself to spruce her up. However, in regards to my daughter this was not the case.
Then it actually happened to me and my daughter. One day, after a fresh hair wash, we were running slightly behind to school and I decided–against my better judgment–to let my daughter go to school with a headband and her curls out. BIG MISTAKE.
Thursday afternoon, like every day I went to pick up my daughter from her school playground. As she ran toward me, all I could do was mouth to myself was, WTF!? Seeing my reaction her teacher scurred behind her, quickly offering an exonerating explanation as to why my daughter didn’t look the way she did only a few hours earlier. “I did her hair, I hope you don’t mind?! She said she was hot.”
I was furious. My blood was boiling, and there were no nice words I could find. I offered a limp smile, and could barely utter, “it’s fine.” I was fuming. My daughter’s hair had been brushed, with whose brush? I couldn’t tell you, parted, and braided in plaits, and embellished with rubber bands and barrettes, out of the teachers own supply.
After about 30 minutes to an hour, I called the school and spoke with the director and asked that Lyric’s hair not be touched by anyone, at all, for any reason. She assured me she would talk to the teachers, but I could tell she really didn’t care. For days I debated with my cousin, a former daycare teacher about the violation, boundary infringement, and the subliminal message being taught to my daughter. My cousin argued the teacher had no ill intentions toward my child, and that she thought she was doing a good thing. She assured me her actions meant that Lyric was a favorite in the school, and now that I have made this an issue they will probably treat her differently now.
While I’m 100 percent sure the teacher had no ill intentions when she decided to do my childs hair, but more so just wanted to get her hands in some Black hair. Against my better judgment, I assumed the unspoken rule about not touching Black hair was well known. Needless to say, no matter what the circumstances may be, no matter how tired I am, that hair gets braided down daily! I refuse to allow my child to be mislead into believing her beauty, and worth are defined by what pleases the pale faces of the world. I am a patron of the facility not for beauty treatments, but to first educate, and second care for my child. Unfortunately, I have stigmatized myself as “that mom”, and prayerfully my daughter doesn’t suffer of any ill treatment because of this.
Would I feel as strongly about this situation had her teacher been Black, and decided to do her hair? Nope, because to me that would of been a sister looking out, a homegirl hook up because of the unspoken understanding all Black people share. Is that biased, ignorant, racist? Call it what you want, but because of the history of the Black body, in relation to White people, (ownership, and exhibition) I will never be ok with White hands in my childs hair.
What would you do if your daughter’s teacher did her hair?
Have you had a tricky situation that needed to be addressed at your child’s school? How did you handle it?
Teachers are supposed to be the people who inspire, encourage and educate us. But far too often they are the same ones who degrade, discourage and belittle. That’s what happened to Shaniaya Hunter, a junior at Greene County High School in Georgia.
When Hunter raised her hand to ask her teacher a question, instead of answering her, he proceeded to insult her intelligence as well as her personhood , calling her, among other things, “the dumbest girl I have ever met.”
The incident happened in December when Hunter, who has an eye condition which causes her to occasionally miss school, was trying to catch up right before a test.
There is a recording of the teacher allegedly saying, “I have been around for 37 years and clearly, you are the dumbest girl that I have ever met.”
Hunter just so happened to be recording the lesson on a school-issued iPad when the teacher said those very hurtful things to her. But he didn’t stop there. He said, “You know what your purpose going to be? To have sex and have children, because you ain’t gonna never be smart.”
Later, in an interview with WSBTV, Hunter said, “It really hurt me inside.” She was trying to say more but began crying. Hunter’s mother and aunt took over the interview from there, telling her that it was going to be ok, that they were going to fight until it was over, assuring her that it wasn’t over yet.
Hunter’s aunt, Christie Lockhart said, “This is about a school system that is failing our children and allowing these acts to go on.”
Attorney Ben Windham agreed to take the case pro bono after Hunter’s mother said she was dissatisfied with the way the school district handled the situation. As of now, the teacher has kept his position.
When the news station asked if the teacher had been disciplined, the district said, there are limits to what they can publicly say.
Windham said, “This man does not need to be teaching young children. It’s not a gray area. End of story.”
Hunter said that, unfortunately, she’s not the only student he berates, she’s just the only one who’s speaking about it publicly.
She said, “I don’t think it’s OK. I don’t think he should be here.”
You can watch her interview with WSBTV and listen to the alleged audio in the video below.
When my oldest son went to the fourth grade I entered the school year with the same optimism I have every year. I hoped to join the PTA, build a cordial relationship with his teacher and most importantly support my boy in having the most educationally stimulating fourth grade experience possible. And for the first two months that exactly what I did, but I sensed some tension between his teacher and me.
Trips to the school every other week for a progress and problem update and emails to ensure all homework was complete were not welcomed by his fourth grade teacher as they were in previous school years. It seemed like every time I attempted to build a positive teacher-parent relationship with Mr. Fourth Grade, I was brushed off or given the “what’s so special about your child” look. So, by Christmas break I knew there was no chance of having a friendly relationship with this teacher. This meant I needed to develop some strategies for dealing with a non-engaged, mean teacher.
- Strictly business: Other than good morning and good afternoon, I stopped exchanging niceties with my son’s teacher. Before making my bi-weekly visit to the school I made a list of questions or concerns that I wanted addressed. During our conversations I would no longer stray from that list to ask how the school year was going or how his Christmas break was.
- Make friends with the teacher next door: If the teacher is truly anti-social, trust me, everyone knows already. I’ve even had other teachers give me a rundown of the “good v. bad” teachers. By forming a close relationship with another educator who teaches the same grade or a parent of another child in your kids class a parent can still keep their thumb on what’s going on in the classroom without further straining the relationship with the teacher.
- Absolutely no emails: When dealing with a teacher who doesn’t like you, or vice versa, the last thing you want is to send an email that is misconstrued in a negative manner. Not only is it now written fodder for the playground of teachers at your kids school, but it also sets precedent for the teacher’s excuse to no longer deal with you.
- Get principal visibility: Unless the situation becomes unbearable with your kid’s mean teacher, I’d stay away from complaining to the principal. She has bigger fish to fry. Before resorting to that, I would make sure the principal and guidance counselors know your name. Whether you show up to PTA with cookies the last Thursday of every month or offer to fill-in for the secretary’s lunch period occasionally, once the principal knows you are actively involved at school the teacher will have less validity to claims your presence at the school is useless.
- Maintain privacy: This is a biggie. Never, I mean never, talk down or reprimand your child in front of a teacher who you are unsure has your child’s best interest at heart. Teachers are people too, and can be manipulative. While I truly believe most teachers are loving and want the best for all of their kids, some will use the divide and conquer strategy of pitting a parent against a kid. Once a parent begins to equate their visits to the school with negative behavior from the child, a parent is more likely to keep their distance. Teachers can use this to their advantage if they don’t want parents checking in on their class style. Always handle behavior, homework or peer issues with your child at home. Simply respond to the teacher: “We’ll work on that at home.”
Stories of parent-teacher battles are nothing new. Whether it’s a difference of opinion about how they teach or just personality clashes, when you don’t get along with your child’s teacher it can negatively affect your child at home and at school.
If you happen not to like your child’s teacher, keep the following in mind:
Don’t Badmouth The Teacher At Home
As much as you may want to walk around the house venting about how you really feel, don’t do it. It will possibly make your child just as angry, causing them to have less respect for the teacher. This can cause them to get into more trouble at school, and you will have to see someone you don’t like even more.
The last thing you want to do is go an entire year disliking someone who works closely with your child. Set up a meeting with the teacher and attempt to have a calm conversation. To prepare, put a few logical bullet points in your phone to keep the conversation on track with the things that are bothering you. After you talk, you need to actually listen and absorb the responses. Many times people are not listening and are just waiting to get their next point across. Also, try your best not to have an accusatory tone.
School Observation Days
Get involved with the school as much as you can so that you can observe the teacher-student dynamic. Sometimes you might find that what you think is a personal attack against your child isn’t, and that is just the way the teacher acts with all of the kids. It doesn’t mean it’s right, and it should still be addressed, but at least you know your child isn’t being singled out. Plus, having your presence there a little more might make the “not so nice” teacher adjust their attitude when you aren’t around.
Going To The Principal
If your parent-teacher meetings and observation days don’t work then set up a meeting with your child’s principal. Most administrator-parent meetings are kept confidential so you should be able to feel comfortable being open and honest. The principal is there daily and could offer suggestions or a meeting with the three of you. They may also be able to tell you something you might not know that could explain things, including life-altering changes the teacher is currently going through. Although that’s not your child’s problem, it could put things into perspective.
Don’t Get Bit By The Denial Bug
Let’s be real here, all kids are not well-behaved, and the worst thing you can do as a parent is be in denial about your child’s behavior. If the teacher tells you that your child’s conduct is disruptive or could use improvement in certain ways, try your hardest to be open and listen.
Switching Teachers Or Schools
This should be your last resort because you want to lead by example and try and teach your child that resolving issues when possible is better than running away from them. If you have done everything you feel you can and are still completely uncomfortable with leaving your child there, then ask to have your child switched to another classroom. But remember that if they are allowed to, this new teacher is not going to be a perfect person either.
When a teacher posted this Facebook photo of her student hair-intervention, Twitter went wild saying the teacer was out of line. But unauthorized hair braiding is nothing compared to the crimes of these teachers who stepped way over the line.
I recently went to the parent/teacher convention at my daughter’s school. I call it a convention, because I had to meet with all her teachers individually. I could see it was going to be an excursion from the giddy-up as all the other parents lined up to meet with the teachers as if we were runners waiting for the starter gun to go off. I got there a half-hour early to get the report, be it positive or be it negative.
I continuously kept hearing great things about my daughter, but there was one aspect of it that annoyed me. I was told that she and another girl talked too much in class. Talk about annoying. All of the teachers mentioned how bright she was and yet there was this issue about “greater potential.” Ever since one of my kid’s teachers described her as ‘brilliant,’ I’ve been looking at her like a Young Einstein. I need that person to rise and rule the nation one day!
Aside from the girly chatter comment, the curriculum of public schools has always bothered me as an African American that’s über proud to be Black.
There are some things that African American students need to survive that they don’t get. I despise how Black history starts with slavery and the true nature of our history is overlooked or compartmentalized in a month. This is important, as we are about to recognize a drunken, lost man named Christopher Columbus again.
Everybody isn’t lost.
I have been noticing that more and more African Americans are choosing to homeschool their kids so that they don’t have to endure the horrid school system that has taken over the United States. This post is not to condemn teachers, because I love teachers. I loved most of my teachers, except the racist ones that tried to stunt my growth or my third grade teacher that actually laid hands on my for being late. Both of my parents were teachers and many of those in my family are teachers. They knew how to handle teachers. The truth is, I once aspired to teach in the classroom, but I discovered the internet in the mid-90’s. Word to Christopher Columbus. But, I digress.
Schools are different now and those educators I know are consistently at odds with the system and their ability to teach is hampered, even by their own accounts.
For many parents it is time to unplug from one system and find a new power source.
A recent report indicated that approximately 1,770,000 students are currently being homeschooled in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. This represents 3.4 percent of the school-age population. NCES said the break down is as follows: 68 percent are white, 15 percent are Hispanic, eight percent are black, and four percent are Asian or Pacific Islander. The population of homeschooled kids grows by about 15 percent per year, says the NCES.
It may all just be parents going back to their natural instincts.
Parents are the first teachers to their offspring, so the act of teaching can be very natural if the parents are committed. The parent(s) have the opportunity to instill their values into their kids. This means competing for who has the freshest clothing becomes less and less important. I personally wore “bo-bo” sneakers until 5th grade, people! For African Americans, we are already twice behind in the school department, according to reports. The high school graduation rates for African Americans is about 51 perecnt! On top of that, there are ridiculous gaps in resources between wealthier school districts and poorer ones. Racism and classism is very alive and has been for years.
I grew up in Delaware and I watched firsthand as Black kids were dismantled in the system. Many were victims of pure bias and racism. Others were dumped unnecessarily into Special Ed programs. Moreover, they were essentially uneducated on anything that mattered in the real game of survival. Many of them resorted to street methods of getting over and were eventually caught up in another system – the penal system.
Now, homechooling is not just about what is wrong with the public (an in many cases private) schools. In many cities and towns, there are awesome support and network groups that guide parents and offer outings that help socialize kids with other homeschooled children. Students still have to show they are proficient in all the course studies that “regular” students to as well. Homeschooled kids tend to excel academically just fine when they integrate into institutional education, whenever that may occur. My brother, who is a great teacher, always stresses to me how there are different types of learning. Each kid thrives in a different way and its hard to determine when you have large quantities of kids per school.
My daughter is a public school kid even though we moved to an area just because it has a good school district. They cannot and will not do it all.
When my daughter gets home, I trying my version of homeschooling. For me, this means reading about African Americans, history (present and past), science fiction books, independent science projects and more. Make it fun. Even TV can be educational if you are watching something like “Unsung,” a show that chronicles singers/rappers that were overlooked by the mainstream. We also watch our favorite show, “Shark Tank,” a show where business people pitch investors there ideas. Since I am an entrepreneur, I want her to understand she absolutely does not have to be a cog in a machine. She can be the machine. They don’t teach that level of independence in school. My homeschooling could be teaching my child about managing money or even reading nutrition labels on food (don’t get me started on public school food). I know its not the same as true homeschooling but it’s my attempt to offset that which I don’t agree.
I doubt very seriously that my daughter will ever get homeschooled, but should I ever have more kids, I would consider it strongly. Our kids have to be ready for the long haul and its up to us to train them for the rigors of the real life rat race. Let the marathon begin.
If you are serious about homeschooling, click here for some resources that offer stats and further information.
Black Alliance for Educational Options- http://www.baeo.org
Facts about homeschooling – http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=91
Looking for a job? Well, according to a new report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the world needs four million (you read right) teachers. This is the number of teachers needed in order to get every child into the classroom by 2015.
There is a severe global teacher shortage in 93 countries. “If these countries were to achieve universal primary education over the next few years, they would need to hire millions more teachers, UNESCO found,” reports The Huffington Post.
According to researchers, however, it is unlikely that the world will achieve universal primary education by next year. In fact, UNESCO says that the world would need more than 12 million additional teachers to get all young children in school by 2020. While 10.2 million of these 12 million would be replacing retiring teachers, 2.4 million would be entirely new jobs.
“The teacher shortage is most extreme in sub-saharan Africa, where over 70 percent of countries currently need more teachers. As it stands, schools in the region suffer from overcrowding and a severe lack of resources or building maintenance,” reports HuffPo.
But the region would have to spend billions more in teacher salaries to increase the number of teachers. It would cost sub-Saharan Africa $5.2 billion more annually than it currently spends to achieve universal primary education by 2020. The region would need a major boost in outside donations.
“Having enough teachers is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to improve education quality: newly hired teachers also need to be motivated, well trained and willing to expand their pedagogical toolkits,” the report notes.
We contacted UNESCO to learn more about how those who are interested in becoming teachers abroad can get involved. A spokesperson for the organization told us via email:
If they are teachers or working in education they can use our Advocacy Toolkit for Teachers in order to help our recommendations on filling the teacher gap with quality teachers reach their governments and achieve policy change.
For those aged 18-30, they should take a look at the Youth Advocacy Toolkit prepared by A World at School and Plan International.
For others, we are keen to hear mothers’ views about how education and education quality has changed since 2000 in their country and how it could be improved so that we can reflect on their opinions as we write our next global Report on education. They should refer to this page where the questionnaire will soon be live.
From Your Tango
By: Paula Mooney
When I was a silly little 22-year-old, freshly graduated from college in 1991, I eloped on the shores of Panama City Beach, Florida. High from too much weed, giggly all giddy-like while serious marital vows were being spoken over me, I didn’t think about the months and years to come – and how distance would affect my new marriage. With that marriage, I didn’t have to pursue the man who would become my ex-husband. He chose me. Thank the good Lord above and inside that union ended in divorce, as it should have ended.
Before long, I’d be remarried – but I wouldn’t say outright that I had to chase after that man to land him, either. In fact, I believe in just the opposite. Those Facebook viral photos of a woman on her knees proposing marriage to her boyfriend kind of make me cringe inside. I’ve always believed that a woman should wait for a man to show interest in her, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t let him know – in subtle yet obvious and ladylike ways – that she likes him.
Therefore, when the dating site Millionaire Match asked, “Is it a turn-off to men when a lady pursues them?” they received interesting answers on both sides.
This writer would land squarely on the side of yes – even though I’m not a man. However, as a female, I’ve learned that it helps to wait for a man to make the first move. If he’s shy, throwing on a nice dress and pretty make-up doesn’t hurt to get his attention, but as far as pressuring him for a date – that just seems desperate to me. Men know what they want and if they are really into us, they’ll find a way to make it happen.
Of course, us Christians like to point to the fact that the Bible says that “he who finds a wife finds a good thing,” a verse that insinuates that it’s the man who does the looking, not the female that’s on a major hunt for a husband. (Even if she is, she doesn’t need to look like a Needful Nelly all the time.)