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It's really important for teachers to be on board with anti-racism in the classroom, especially after witnessing the disturbing video of George Floyd's murder and the subsequent rise of the anti-racist movement. BLACK LIVES MATTER. BLACK CHILDREN MATTER.

Now, amidst all of this, a lot of teachers, particularly the ones who are white, are taking a step back to learn and grow in their anti-racist efforts. It's a positive thing – people wanting to do their part in the anti-racist movement.

But here's the thing to remember: being anti-racist isn't about feeling sorry for Black kids. They don't need sympathy; they need understanding, empathy, and actions that show belief in them. They need to believe in themselves, get support to build confidence, and be held accountable for their actions.

I must admit that I'm very worried that some teachers might not be sure about what to do and might wrongly think that being overly kind and lowering expectations is what anti-racism is about. Let's be clear: BLACK KIDS DO NOT NEED SYMPATHY or excuses. What they really need is to be valued, understood, and supported.

Anti-racism involves not diminishing expectations but transforming how we provide support to Black children. Apply the same standards you would to any other student. Let's ensure our commitment to anti-racism stems from love, not sympathy.

Here are some guiding points for educators on their anti-racism journey.

  1. Establish a positive and genuine relationship with your Black students by taking the time to get to know them on a personal level, understanding their interests, needs, and experiences. To achieve this, ask open-ended questions, actively listen to their responses, and acknowledge and validate their perspectives. Provide opportunities for students to share their experiences and viewpoints in class discussions and activities, fostering trust and laying the groundwork for effective teaching and learning. Avoid attempting to force a relationship with your Black students; instead, allow the connection to develop naturally over time using the methods mentioned above. Students can often detect inauthenticity, and they do not appreciate it. Strive to build an authentic relationship by genuinely expressing interest in your students and dedicating time to understand them on a personal level. This approach helps create a sense of belonging, making Black students feel valued and supported in the classroom.

  2. Set clear, high expectations. As a teacher, you should establish high yet attainable expectations for your Black students. This involves creating a structured and consistent classroom environment with clear rules and consequences. Hold students accountable for these expectations. You can be supportive and understanding without enabling or expecting less from the students. Provide explicit instructions and expectations for assignments, assessments, and classroom participation. It's crucial to offer regular feedback and opportunities for students to learn from their mistakes and strive for improvement. By setting high expectations, you can build students' confidence and nurture a sense of academic and personal responsibility. This, in turn, helps students develop the skills and mindset needed for academic success and future endeavors.

  3. Provide support and resources: As a teacher, ensure you offer your Black students the support and resources they need to succeed. This encompasses providing additional academic support, such as tutoring or one-on-one instruction. Create opportunities for students to connect with mentors or role models who share similar backgrounds or interests. Importantly, supply resources and materials that reflect the diverse experiences and perspectives of Black students. By offering this support, you can foster a sense of belonging and empower students to take ownership of their learning. This, in turn, helps students thrive academically and feel empowered to pursue their goals both inside and outside of the classroom.

These are just three of the ways that I encourage teachers to engage in their anti-racism work. Remember, sympathy is neither needed nor beneficial for Black students. They require high expectations, support, genuine care, and love. There's no need to lower expectations or make excuses for them.

I'm wishing you the best on your journey to creating a more inclusive classroom!

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