The Black Educator Experience
I heard about the experiences of some of the black educators in our district, and I was moved. There is an overwhelming amount of expectations and pressure placed on each and every one of them. Imagine having to feel like you need to work twice as hard as your counterparts, or as though you only got the job because you were black, or a mistake you make being attributed to the color of your skin, or getting the impression from others that the success of your students is only because you are black and not because of your ability, leadership and amazing teaching. Imagine having to go through your entire day and not being able to talk about that one HUGE thing that happened in your community because no one would understand, or even know.
So what is their advice? As an individual, It is important to be reflective, and raise your own awareness. Make yourself aware of your own beliefs and biases, and also of the experiences, culture and community of our black teachers and students. Be willing and be open to having conversations about all of those things that are under the iceberg. In my eyes, and the eyes of others present during this seminar, that is not enough though. It is easy to be a bystander when you see or hear things happen in front of you, but what is more important is to challenge the norm. This can be uncomfortable, but if you are uncomfortable, chances are what you are doing, hearing, or about to say are that much more important.
Perhaps you and your colleagues need a little practice engaging in intentional dialogue. Intentional in this case being planned dialogue. Read more for the directions....
- Two educators pair up and assume the role of a student or an educator, or two educators depending on the scenario. One will make an inappropriate statement, and the other person will respond.
- Directions: "Based on the scenario, role-play how you would engage in intentional dialogue and provide a safe space."
- Scenario 1:
- Student: "She must be mentally ill. She can't do anything right."
- Educator: How do you respond to the student within the classroom or learning community?
- Scenario 2:
- Educator 1: "These kids on free/reduced lunch are always late to school. I can't do anything about them and their situation, they're all like this."
- Educator 2: How would you address this statement about poverty?