Resources for Addressing Racism and Hatred in the Classroom
I've explored many of the resources, and have found myself really missing teaching, especially AVID, and the opportunities that allowed me to serve as an advocate for students, and a learner alongside them. I started to re-read one of the resources titled, Helping Students Discuss Race Openly. Within the article, the section "Considering Your Own Identity" really spoke to me, as this continues to be something I am working on.
It seems so simple, know yourself, and you will be a better teacher. But something that is far more challenging is facing your own biases, and often times your own upbringing. More times than not, knowing yourself means opening your eyes, really opening your eyes, and that is often very uncomfortable to say the least. There have been many activities I have participated in with other educators who are white where I have often heard, "I feel guilty." It's not about guilt, it's about knowledge. I like to think that growing up on the Southside of Chicago has afforded me some greater insight into these things, but it really hasn't. Sure, it helps me out sometimes, but it's not just about my knowledge, it's about being open to the knowledge and insight of others!
To that effect, the article states "Working on race and racism...It means not being the only "knower" in the room, but appreciating that many students in a discussion will know things you can't." So what does this mean though? Does this mean that all teachers need to start class and tell students, "We're going to talk about race today."? Does it mean, forget your timelines and your content? Well, I don't think so. What it means is that you need to be willing to set aside your content, or that great lesson you had planned, and be open to seeing, feeling, and responding to teachable moments. Sometimes this might mean responding in the moment and having a tough conversation on the spot, other times it might mean collaborating with colleagues to increase your knowledge, or create a lesson, or opportunity for discussion for students.
Most importantly of all, and applicable to all teachers at all points in time, it is sometimes as simple as openly sharing with students that you are willing to talk about race. Be vulnerable, be open. Tell students, "I'm not an expert, but I'm here for you." I especially liked the message from the article that stated, "This is tough work. I'm not always sure I'm doing it right. The most important thing you can do is keep responding and learning. Come to me when you need to."
Be an advocate, be a teacher, be a learner, be an upstander when it comes to race and injustice!