It is imperative for teachers to embrace anti-racism in the classroom, particularly in light of the horrifying video of George Floyd's murder which has sparked a widespread anti-racist movement. BLACK LIVES MATTER. BLACK CHILDREN MATTER.
Within this movement, many teachers, especially white teachers, are humbly muting themselves to learn and grow in their anti-racist efforts. This is a positive and beautiful thing!
However, amidst all of this, it is important to remember that being anti-racist is not about being sympathetic towards Black children. Black children do not need sympathy; they need empathy, understanding, and actions that demonstrate belief in them. It is crucial that they believe in themselves and are supported to develop their confidence and take accountability for their actions.
There is a fear that some teachers may not know what to do and may mistakenly equate being overly kind and lowering expectations with anti-racism. It is important to be clear that BLACK KIDS DO NOT NEED SYMPATHY or excuses made for them. Rather, they need to be valued, understood, and supported.
Anti-racism is not about lowering expectations, but rather about changing the methods used to support Black children. The same standards that are applied to other children should also be applied to Black children. Let us ensure that anti-racist work is driven by love, rather than sympathy.
Here are some tips to help ensure your anti-racist work stems from love.
Establish a positive and genuine relationship with your Black students. You should take the time to get to know your students on a personal level, including their interests, needs, and experiences. To do this, you can ask open-ended questions, actively listen to their responses, and acknowledge and validate their perspectives. You should also provide opportunities for students to share their experiences and perspectives in class discussions and activities, which helps to build trust and creates a foundation for effective teaching and learning. Avoid trying to force a relationship with your Black students. Instead, let the relationship develop naturally over time through the methods mentioned above. Black students can often spot inauthenticity and do not appreciate it. You should strive to build an authentic relationship by genuinely showing interest in your students and taking the time to get to know them on a personal level. This can help to create a sense of belonging and make Black students feel valued and supported in the classroom.
Set Clear Expectations: As a teacher, you should set high, yet achievable, expectations for your Black students. This involves creating a structured and consistent classroom environment with clear rules and consequences. You should provide clear instructions and expectations for assignments, assessments, and classroom participation. It's important to offer regular feedback and opportunities for students to revise their work. By setting high expectations, you can build students' confidence and foster a sense of academic and personal responsibility. This can help students develop the skills and mindset needed to succeed academically and in their future endeavors.
Provide Support and Resources: As a teacher, you should provide your Black students with the support and resources they need to succeed. This includes offering additional academic support, such as tutoring or one-on-one instruction. You can also create opportunities for students to connect with mentors or role models who share similar backgrounds or interests. Additionally, it's important to provide resources and materials that reflect the diverse experiences and perspectives of Black students. By offering support and resources, you can promote a sense of belonging and encourage students to take ownership of their learning. This can help students thrive academically and feel empowered to pursue their goals both inside and outside of the classroom.