In order for our students to perform well academically, they need to feel safe, both physically and psychologically. They need to feel a sense of belonging. They need to feel seen and valued for who they are. For our students of color, finding this safe, accepting place is rare, especially if most of their teachers have a dramatically different background from their own. This problem can be even more pronounced for students of color who attend schools where their peers are also mostly white.
Dena Simmons , the director of education at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence , understands this problem far too well. This struggle was made much harder by many of her teachers, in the things they said to her and the messages they sent, messages that basically told Dena that who she was was not okay. In her TED talk, she gives us a glimpse of how that worked. We can teach our young people to love themselves by centering our instruction on their lives, their realities and their experiences, and using their lives as cultural reference to our instruction.
They internalize that their communities matter, and they also begin to understand that they have a role in developing and engaging in their communities. What I learned when I had to leave the Bronx to go to boarding school was that the Bronx had nothing to offer me.
Professional development: teacher development and confidence
How painful it was to think of the place that raised me, the place that I called home was actually not good. And so I had to spend some time reshifting and reframing how I thought about the Bronx, that the Bronx was something to return to as opposed to something to leave. And I think educators, in the process of seeing their communities and their families as assets, begin to shift from deficit-based mindset to an asset-based mindset.
Growing up, Simmons says most of the role models she saw in the media were white. I learned to think that everything white was better … I think that is true for many people of color. So how do we disrupt that? None of the actions outlined here are simple, and none of them offer a quick fix. But implementing them consistently, with the belief that this work is important, will make your classroom a place where students of color will flourish.
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You can find Dena Simmons on Twitter at denasimmons. Do you know where your children are? Categories: Learning Theory , Podcast. Tags: cultural competence.
Thank you so much for this post! Great imformation! I appreciate everything you do to help our days go smoothly! Thank you for all your help and hard work!! She grinned and said no one had ever said that to her before and I was amazed at that.
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It taught me that we can teach students to be proud of their heritage, and we can also make them proud of what makes them unique in whatever way they are! I teach elementary instrumental music. As with all children, these affirmations you addressed really matter. One of the most frequent gentle classroom suggestions I give my students is regarding eye contact: It matters, because it conveys self-awareness and respect for the person at whom we are looking to whom we are speaking or listening.
Thank you so much for this valuable reminder. Will you format this as a PDF that we can download and share, please? Hi, Luci! At one point Jenn did have a PDF plug-in, but it just caused too many problems.
Hope this helps! Great article and actionable tips to raise awareness and remedy the challenges that we face in this area.
Sammy Lyon – Education for Social Change
I really loved her transparency in stating how she learned to think that everything white was better. Her transparency helped me to identify this flawed thinking in myself and to take actions to think differently. I also liked that she stated that this type of thinking is pervasive in most people of color. This article helped me immensely. Thank you to the author and Dena Simmons for sharing your views and perspectives.
I teach at an international school in Panama and I found this podcast very helpful to me as I relate to my students. It intended to establish scarcely compatible parallels between quality and effort and sidelined measures promoting the hard-won universal right to quality education, while supporting a certain amount of school choice and privatization of services.
The LOE, a socialist reform in , was organized on a new pairing: equity and quality , which was difficult to define, and even more so in times of economic crisis. However, to achieve these aims, the LOE neglects to develop these ideas in real terms of the know-how and ability of current teaching staff, of the families involved, of education authorities - regulated by a series of alternating governments - insufficiently dynamic to be able to face such changes.
The LOE regulates, in this sense, certain areas of competences - understood as a new panacea to mediate in the organization of instrumental knowledge modes - which are ill-equipped to mobilize the know-how of students in pursuit of their answers Zufiaurre, Albertin, The development of four different laws in 36 years is further complicated by an intermingling of religious, political and doctrinal interference as well as a certain amount of mimicry of corporate values. This leads to an outline of a school education in which there is no place to reflect upon either the practice or the realities of defending these or other rules, or facts and policies.
That is, there is no chance to open up ways to allow people to do things or to innovate in education, except in those schools and school boards that are committed to change. The reality of the proposals for reorganizing education and schools that has resulted from the application of different policy areas or fields of action education laws and their corresponding deployment , has thus become controversial, ever-changing and deceptive Zufiaurre, B.
From this point on, any interpretations to be made will relate different interpretations, according to the mirror in which one wants to be reflected, or the color of the tinted spectacles one is looking through.
The claims made for the various laws, might attract expectations that may be utopian or simply disproportionate but which, in any case, will be somewhat far from the reality of the facts that accompany the development of regulations that swing like a pendulum between contradictory administrations. Everyone - regardless of whether they have sufficient criteria to do so - has an opinion on education in Spain and how it is supposed to function, not to mention matters such as assessment or coherence. This is why oversights and errors in education end up provoking a great deal of intrusive meddling and uncalled-for advice that is totally out of place.
The various proposed reforms in education developed since have various positive and not so positive aspects. The claims made in early draft documents justifying the reforms, or in political speeches supporting them, may themselves be more or less convincing. But real change in education in Spain has not come and even today remains far off. However, while this pact is in place, there is no room for innovative projects or the appropriate staff to run them.
The education pact should have been agreed years ago, in as a pact appropriate to a process of transition in education and politics that, in the end, never happened. It would have been relevant when the LODE was being negotiated by evidently inexperienced progressive politicians. At that time, the right to public education was recognized, which in itself is neither good nor bad, but which should have been discussed under certain conditions. It should have excluded, for example, sectors that do not defend quality public education as already defined in the 19th century Zufiaurre, Hamilton, - a definition that refers not so much to a state school system, with public employees, but a public service available to everyone - without exception - aimed at making the most out of each and every context.
Four Ways Teachers Can Support Students of Color
Such a covenant can be fulfilled through educational institutions run by the state, by municipal councils, by private patronage and by the private sector, but only under conditions of no exclusion and no school selectivity. Any action taken in education is and should be comprehensive. It concerns and affects everyone: education authorities, teachers, technicians and intermediate services, families, students, social groups, etc. Thus, if change is to produce a positive effect, then it must not simply be a step towards a hoped-for modernization, with no clear direction - or worse still, with ever-changing directions - while innovation remains neglected.
Because if that is the case, social improvement through education will remain conspicuous by its absence, except for some superficial aspects of appearance, such as the incorporation of technology. Since , in Spain, we have seen the passage of an era of modernization in education aimed at expanding compulsory education as well as post-compulsory secondary education and non-compulsory infant education. Adjusting the system to international standards - or making major or minor adjustments to variables of equality, integration, quality, efficiency, equity, etc - has been more controversial and in this there have been steps forward, but also some steps backwards.
From the academic literature of the times and its reflection in the media, it is evident that the most-often debated issues in school education can be summed up as follows:. All this is a poor result when what is in question is the process of school education opening the way for the formation of a progressive citizen. Summing up the way forward towards an education pact that can open up ways to reform obligatory secondary education which inherited at its conception what could be interpreted as a mistaken offensive against secondary school teachers, but also a reflection of a corporate need to defend certain interests that did not offer alternatives for improving education for everyone and in better conditions, Zufiaurre, b still poses a challenge.
Exams have merely served to judge and classify pupils, and also to find justification for the opportune workings of governments that congratulate themselves using biased classification mechanisms of little value in terms of genuine assessment. The results of the PISA reports are eloquent in this regard.
As a mere diagnosis that they are of the state of the situation from which improvements can be made, they are interpreted as showing how some regions function better than others. In reality, since they are continuously detecting mediocre results for a particular educational objective - because students are accustomed to memorizing and do not know how to answer or even understand what is being asked of them - it should be interpreted in terms of the fact that something is going wrong. Schooling must therefore assume a social, democratic and cosmopolitan function.
And in this context - leaving aside the confusion created by entrenched or reformulated discourses about the state as a service in the public interest, or about the private sector with all its peculiarities, or about bureaucratized schools or intentionally corporate educational goals - what needs to be done is to redefine what a public education service actually represents today. The challenges of education today are those of a mixed multicultural society obliging us to change the organization and the ways and means of teaching and learning.