Celebrating Students In Ways That Solidify Community

If you’re an educator, now is the time to celebrate your students. Celebrating students is always important, but teaching amidst a pandemic requires that educators seek moments to affirm and celebrate students to keep them encouraged. It’s important that we educators do that. It’s a practice that I try to do frequently with my own students, as I am demand the best of them in the classroom. I have the privilege of teaching 25 sophomore students AP U.S. History. As part of their course work, stu

Africana Studies for All

The College Board has created a new AP class for African-American studies. The course will be piloted across twenty different school districts throughout the coming school year throughout the nation. I think this is a really good idea. However, I believe that an African-American studies course should be a non-AP course in addition to being an AP course. One reason is because Black children are underrepresented in advanced placement or gifted classes—although Black children are absolutely capabl

The Thing About Segregation…

Jim Crow segregation in the South and de facto segregation in the north stunted class divisions and fractures amongst Black people. What this means is that while segregation did not wholly prevent such class divisions amongst Black people, Black communities were heterogeneous in terms of class categorization; in other words, those who had money lived in the same neighborhoods and those who did not. Black people within higher economic classes couldn’t move away; not in the ways they can today. H

I Don't Love Your Kids, But I'll Teach Them

I’ve attended my fair share of professional development workshops. I’ve heard a lot of educational colloquialisms, buzz words, and catch phrases shared in those spaces and one such thing I’ve heard facilitators say is for teachers to love students or love on students, as an enhancer for teaching quality. The thought is that teachers best teach their students when they love those students as if they were their own children. I’ve usually heard it said to white teachers who teach Black and Latinx

When Hit Dogs Are Hurt And Holler

Teachers are mad at Neil Degrasse Tyson. Why you ask? Because of a tweet where he called out those teachers who make general statements about student investment in there learn, when it could be that those teachers aren’t invested in students learning. Tyson, an astrophysicist, said in the tweet: “Some educators who are quick to say, ‘These students just don’t want to learn,’ should instead say to themselves, ‘maybe I suck at my job.’” After reading the tweet, I traveled to the comments and wel

First They Came To Erase Me…

I saw a tweet a while back that explained the craze behind preventing Critical Race Theory (CRT) being taught in schools. The tweet was a meme: a picture of Ms. Hazel Bryan Massery, one of the Little Rock Nine, walking to school amidst a riotous crowd, with a caption saying: “They just don’t want to explain to their kids what granny’s doing in the background of that pic from social studies class.” Certainly, this meme is meant to be funny, but funny to expose a truth: that white people are argu

Looking Back At 2021: When Educators' Actions Are Violent

A teacher at the John Wesley North High School in Riverside California was suspended for her mockery of Indigenous peoples while wearing feathers made of construction paper in an effort to teach a mnemonic device for trigonometry students to remember the functions sine, cosine and tangent. The teacher jumped around the classroom while making what she believed to be indigenous gestures, screeching “Sohcahtoa” as well as tomahawk chopping, which is racist. Sadly, that doesn’t stop baseball fans,

When White Folks Have That One "Black Friend"

Parents often know when their children have engaged in mischievous behavior. Sometimes, they become private investigators to get to the bottom of the mischief in question. Sometimes, once at the scene of the crime, the child may have told on themselves. For example, a rule in my home is no ice cream after school. Fruit, crackers and cereal are the available snack options. One day, I came home to find a spoon with chocolate ice cream residue on the kitchen table, in the spot where my oldest daug

Looking Back At 2021: The Not So Curious Case Of Prince George’s County

I teach and support teachers in Camden, NJ and I am very much aware that my presence is certainly more welcome where I educate versus the suburbs. I say that because the statistics show that there are more Black teachers in cities than there are anywhere else, as are teachers of color in general. But it is also because of the work that I’m doing as director of anti-bias and DEI initiatives. While there are challenges that come with my work, my work is needed, and the school community recognizes

Superintendents Must Know and Do Better

According to preliminary findings from AASA, The School Superintendents Association’s 2020 Decennial Study, only 21% superintendents said they were “very well prepared” for the responsibility of having district/community wide conversations about race and equity, although nearly 90% of school superintendents said those conversations are either extremely or very important. While the report doesn’t say, one could assume that of those superintendents ready to have that conversation, most, if not all

Does Ben Simmons (or Antonio Brown) Remind You Of Any Of Your Students?

In sports, teams have the luxury of giving up on a player; they can either release them or attempt to trade them for a “better” player. That’s not an option for educators, nor should it be. The job of an educator is to prepare students for the world ahead of them. Educators are charged to give their all to students, not to give up on them; no matter the challenge that comes along with educating. Unlike the Philadelphia 76ers, if an educator is tasked with working with a “Ben Simmons” type student

Looking Back At 2021: When Free Means Freeloading

Americans have a very romanticized view of themselves when it comes to the ethic of hard work. Certainly, being a hard worker in whatever it is that you do is important. Hard work is an ethic and/or trait parents hope to instill in their children, teachers hope to instill in their students, and cultures hope to instill in generations to come. Whether it involves one’s education, one’s career or one’s relationships, hard work is vital to making the most of any and everything that we do. Howeve

We Don’t Do That

Contrary to persistent racist opinions and traditions, Black people have always valued education. Whether formal or informal, the role of “schooling” serves as an entry point for Black liberation. It did so during enslavement as it does today. However, challenges to Black education continue to persist. Black education in Antebellum America was under constant threat; Black people were tortured and/or killed for attempting to learn and displaying acquired academic skills. Today, as Black childre

Ongoing Missed Opportunities To Lead With Equity

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work is important for any organization looking to reshape their workplace from a white institutional/white dominant space into an inclusive space where people of color, particularly members of the Black and Afro-Latinx communities, can help determine the course of their organizations, not simple be made to feel “a part” of their organizations. Concerning schools, DEI work initiated and accomplished by committees and school leaders is vital because these in

Black Administrators Are The New Targets of the Anti-Anti-Racist Mob

The current climate of political race-baiting has reached public schools whereby Black educators must be on alert and need anti-racist educators and community members to have their backs. White politician and white parents alike have employed the southern strategy to prevent the teaching of truth to students about American history. Words and phrases such as “Critical Race Theory,” “CRT,” or “Woke” are coded terms to mean “dismantling the myth of white supremacy and explaining the harm it’s caus

What Diversity Isn’t

Something that educators love to tout, particularly white educators, is the diversity that they have in their schools; specifically, the diversity of its students. I remember in a previous district where I worked, a guidance counselor, when talking about the pros of the district, mentioned the diversity of the district. She highlighted the student body configuration of Black, white and Latino/a students as proof of the diversity of the school. It was a point of pride for her.

The Makings of a Black Teacher

Kanye West once made a very poignant statement about identity in a song – yes, Kanye -said something poignant. He said, “everything I’m not made me everything I am.” There is plenty of evidence that explains why Black teachers are so important to America’s classrooms, especially those filled with Black students. But what may be more telling is the evidence of their lived experiences. I can certainly say the same for myself, that everything I’m not made me everything I am. This particularly tru

Your Diversity Efforts Are OK, But Hardly Enough

There is no debate concerning the significance of Black teachers. Black teachers are important for the outcomes of Black students; both inside and outside the classroom. In addition, Black teachers are not only preferred by Black students, but also by white students and other students of color. Considering those truth, various efforts nationwide have begun the work of increasing the number of Black teachers in America’s classrooms. Some efforts are led by non-profit organizations like the Cente

#WeNeedBlackTeachers

Black teachers are powerful and not simply because a body of empirical evidence says so. It’s because for many of us, if not all of us, our passion for our people fuels our pedagogy. I realized this when I became a teacher. This is not to brag or boast but it is to say that my students leaned on me to teach them truth (history) as well as to help them interpret living in dark skin in a white society. I welcomed the role because I sought to provide my student what I didn’t have.

Yeah, But What Do Black and Brown Teachers Have to Say?

Much of the rhetoric concerning Critical Race Theory (CRT) has come from politicians and parents, many who are white, Missouri serving as an example of that. Educators have offered some commentary as well. Nine out of ten teachers never taught CRT in their classrooms. Thankfully, both the National Educational Association and the American Federation of Teachers both pledged to defend teachers facing legal action for teaching CRT or anything “related” to it. I say “related” because the 1619 Project
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