COMMISSION ON SOCIAL JUSTICE IN TEACHER EDUCATION
Welcome to our current dialogue.
We ask that you post an initial response to one or more of these questions from October 19th-October 26th, 2020. Then, please respond to at least two posts to generate dialogues across contexts and experience. The dialogue period will be from October 26th-November 1st, 2020.
Website: BLM at School
Webinar: Teaching For Black Lives During the Rebellion
(This webinar is with the editors of the book Teaching for Black Lives.)
Article: Johnson, L. L., Jackson, J., Stovall, D. O., & Baszile, D. T. (2017). “Loving Blackness to Death”: (Re) Imagining ELA Classrooms in a Time of Racial Chaos. English Journal, 106(4), 60.
- What is the Black Lives Matter Movement, and what role do you see it playing in schools? How do you see these principles guiding your teaching practices, if at all?
- What does it mean to teach for Black lives? Discuss the most important issues raised in this webinar; how, if at all, are they useful to your future/current classroom strategies or routines?
- How can we reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth?
- You are invited to respond to one or more of these questions. (To post, please log in using a Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress account.) Please feel free to share experiences, dilemmas, questions, or information about particular contexts of teaching and learning (e.g., where you student teach, teach, study, or participant observe) as you explore what issues of equity or justice look like in a particular domain for a particular person or group of people. You may also feel free to recommend or cite texts (e.g., articles, books, films) that may be of interest to others on a thread.
Leave a Comment
Hello, my name is Luke Brown, and I am a student at Austin Peay State University. My statements come from my time at an underprivileged school, with a true understanding of the real struggles in the lives of many Black men and women. I am glad to share and open up about issues that face this country daily. Overall, I am glad to come to this forum and talk about an issue that has faced our country from the beginning. The Black lives matter movement preaches tolerance towards black lives and demands social equality for black men and women. I think the statement Black Lives Matter is a statement that everyone should agree with. But in many cases, the movement itself seems not to be a big factor when it comes to students at school. I think the movement demands others to agree with certain policies that really don’t correlate with actual black lives in the school. I think we should all know and understand that judging someone on their race is terrible and has no room in society. So, in this case, using the black lives matter hold me as an educator to respect others and teach the kids around me to accept and learn from others to get a better understanding of why certain kids and cultures act and believe the way they do. I really don’t need to Black lives matter movement to guide my teaching practices but use the statement to raise awareness in my classroom. To teach for black lives means to express the beauty and expressiveness of their culture and express how they, with many other races, are the future of this country. Teaching black lives means understanding that with struggle comes a fulfillment for the next generation not to have to go through these tough times and become a true society of equality. The topic raised in the webinar was that certain students thrive with a good home structure, especially through the pandemic that’s going on today. This information is crucial based on many lower-income students being faced with this problem of lack of resources to then being able to learn based on outside influences. I will be able to use this information to help my students have every chance to pursue and learn the material needed to perform successfully throughout the school. The first step to providing equality in the classroom would be to give everyone a chance to talk about where they came from and who they are, and who they want to be. This gives all students a chance to share the problems in their lives and give other students the struggles to know the struggles that each person faces in society truly. This small thing of just sharing each other’s stories can bring each person together to make a system that allows students to feel and understand problems and gives them a way to make the changes in their lives.
I read the Loving Blackness to Death article and there were a few things that struck me as really important. One of the first aspects is the curriculum that is often chosen in classrooms and how it affects the black youths. As I am a practicum student soon to start my student teaching next semester I found this important because we have been taught to try and incorporate pieces of texts that the students in the class can relate to, including the black youth. As I thought back to my education through grade school I tried to think of texts that were discussed and I realized most of the literature was about white people or ways of life. I can see how that really affects black youth in classrooms. Another thing that I kept thinking about is how my Bachelors degree was in English and as I went through the classes I remember how they taught us not only the different words and avenues that the English language has to explore but it has also made me somewhat of a grammar fanatic. But while reading this article I have started to realize that people make the words they say all their own and it makes them who they are. I think that it’s important to start to take notice the words that students use in the classroom even what we as adults would count as slang is important to the youths in schools these days.
Hello Megan, I totally agree on how the curriculum we deliver to our students must be culturally relevant and diverse in order for our students to feel welcomed and connected in classrooms. I also loved your second point where you discuss how we shape ourselves to standardize our principles with society and not give room for our students to express their culture and ideas. Students will have hard time finding connections with their teacher if we practice strictness about our curriculum, but we must look to provide reasoning behind our strictness and our standards, so that students may find relevance to the materials we share with them. Thank you for the good reminders.
My name is Ellie Crumpler. I’m currently a junior at Penn State studying secondary English education. I had a similar experience in high school. Most of the texts we read that brought up racial issues were written by white authors. These texts, while valuable, fail to present different perspectives. Rather than teaching just To Kill a Mockingbird, my teachers could have supplemented this text with additional texts written by Black authors. Teachers need to consciously make decisions such as this in order to make Black youth feel valuable and empowered.
I really like what you said about how word choice and language makes someone who they are. I agree that we as teachers need to take notice of what kind of language our students commonly use, even if most adults consider it to be slang. Part of having a culturally sustaining pedagogy is including youth culture in the curriculum. Students come to the classroom with so much prior knowledge and experience. Teachers can use this knowledge to help students connect with content and to make students feel valued. Part of this prior knowledge that teachers can draw on is students’ interests, music preferences, language, media usage, and more. When teachers embrace and honor the culture students bring with them, students can feel safe bringing all that they are with them into the classroom. This is essential to humanizing and connecting with students.
My name is Alyssa Fosbenner and I am a junior at Penn State University. I had a very similar experience in high school; before college, I had a very narrow view of English curriculum and a whitewashed view of literature in general. I think that trend is education is related very closely to the idea of an apolitical education. Teachers may feel uncomfortable introducing ideas of race and racial stress in the class, and find it safer to teach what they are comfortable with, which, for white teachers, is work by white authors. However, I think it’s important to point out that it is political to advocate for an apolitical education in the same way that not talking about race sends a message to BIPOC students. As you mention, not seeing oneself represented in the texts within a classroom can have serious effects on a student. That is why it is so important to consciously and critically choose different texts to incorporate into the curriculum.
Thanks for your response!
Good Afternoon, My name is Terriana Price.
In response against instances of police brutality and all racially based abuse against black citizens, Black Lives Matter is a progressive political and social movement encouraging nonviolent civil disobedience. The Black Lives Matter Movement is a reminder that black people should be treated with equality, no matter the color of their skin. They confirm that being open, engaging and practicing justice should be normalized. I believe that the principles of the movement will influence my teaching practices because there are different ethnicities and behavioral traits that will be in school. My classroom will have many behaviors that will be acknowledge in my class and any that will not be. I will be put in a situation dealing with people who has a different skin tone as me but that does not mean treat them any different than any other kid. I will also be empathic and truthful to the children’s decision of what they want to become in the future. I will state that anyone can be anything, no matter the race or gender. My students will look forward to what they want in their life and how to succeed it in a respectful and correct manner as well.
I completely agree that yes our future students are going to come from a diverse set of backgrounds and cultures, which is why it is incredibly important for us future educators to provide a safe comfortable environment for all of our students. I also plan on incorporating the 13 guiding principles within my classroom in order to support all of my students, especially my students who are minorities. Being empathetic and truthful is a key component to gaining students trust, which is why I believe that #2 guiding principle (empathy) is a very important to incorporate in our classrooms.
Before getting into the discussion questions, I just wanted to say how watching the webinar and reading the given article was so insightful! I am a future educator attending Framingham State University in Massachusetts, and I am currently observing an 8th Grade English class in Framingham MA. It is my senior year at FSU, and I am an English major with a minor in Secondary Education.
For the second discussion question, I really think teaching Black lives means to humanize rather than to be destructive. This idea was discussed in the Webinar, and I think it is such an important concept to follow. Teachers throughout America tend to teach a narrative that portrays Black lives as the victims and how they are in need of saving. In the Webinar, the speakers talked about how, currently, teaching Black lives in schools typically starts with enslavement, and teachers never go into various cultures and history before enslavement. Because they start with the enslavement narrative, students instantly perceive Black lives as weaker and inferior. In this case, teachers are not teaching Black lives. They are teaching a restrictive and demoralizing view of Black history; while it is still very important to teach the times of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, as they said in the Webinar, they should teach about the various resistances and also teach about the goodness of the past/allyship, celebrating Black culture instead of just teaching the negatives. Teaching Black lives does not mean that teachers only show their students one part of Black history; as I said in the beginning, teaching Black lives means to humanize, and teachers are not doing that by teaching a restricted version of Black history.
In addition, teachers should also be connecting Black history to events that are happening now. This idea was explained in the article, and it shows students how these issues and injustices are still entirely relevant today (which is why it is important to teach these things!). In teaching Black lives, we are displaying and celebrating Black empowerment in the classroom. As the webinar states, there is not one singular Black experience, and schools have unfortunately created that narrative by sharing a limited, Eurocentric worldview. It is so important to teach Black lives in the classroom, humanizing a vast culture that has been demonized in the past and demoralized in our current school systems. As teachers, we must validate our Black students’ experiences and include Black literacies to affirm Black lives and experiences. I will be sure to expand the curriculum to include Black authors (that do not promote the victim narrative) and I will center all my students’ experiences in the classroom. I will validate my Black students’ contributions to my classes and acknowledge the danger of and eliminate the suppressive, white language that is sadly upheld in our schools.
I also wanted to address the third discussion question, because what I discussed above also connects to the need of humanizing rather than being destructive when teaching our students. Teachers are so influential in students’ lives, and, by using a restricted / one-sided narrative of Black history and culture, we are not humanizing the lives of Black youths, we are degrading them. The core of disrupting racial injustice and humanizing Black lives lies in building meaningful relationships with our students. As the webinar discusses, the basis of good pedagogy involves letting the students know that you care for them and their futures. The connection teachers can have with students is vital in the pursuit to disrupt racial injustice. If we simply have novels with Black authors but do not show our students that we care about them and acknowledge how students may connect to these narratives, we are throwing away the chance to transform the world. When I was in high school (which was predominantly white), we only read one novel my senior year that was written by a Black author, which was “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison. Everyone in my class shared how they were surprised to see how America’s focus on white beauty affects young Black children, which shows how influential these books can be for all cultures and ethnicities. My school should have included more Black authors in their curriculum to broaden students’ worldview and help them recognize how prevalent these injustices are still in our world today. Having more novels by Black authors would also help the Black students in our school see that others recognize that there is not one Black experience, celebrating Black empowerment. As teachers, we must acknowledge these problems and create open and meaningful conversations in the classroom so we can combat these racial injustices. A simple conversation can go such a long way, and, by continuing to discuss these issues while including an inclusive curriculum, we are able to humanize the lives of Black youths that have been demeaned for too long.
I can’t believe nobody responded to your post yet! You have brought some insightful contributions to the discussion. I agree with you that we have an eurocentric viewpoint on Black Lives Matters, and it shows in our educational curricula across the nation – many of what students are taught about Black history is very one-sided and does more harm than helps our students, and like you said, degrades our students. I agree that we can simply use narratives of Black authors and use that within the classroom discussion, rather than completely ignore the purpose of the book that the black authors were trying to make. I had this happen in high school, when we read “To Kill A Mockingbird” and while we talked about the important parts of the book, we did not discuss the MOST IMPORTANT part of the book, which was about how racism was used throughout the book and how the author, Harper Lee wanted to shine a light on the racism that occurs on a regular basis. My teacher who taught this book, bless her heart, was a sweet lady, but she was nowhere qualified to be teaching about racism as she was in her 70’s at the time, and grew up in the South, and did not have the critical thinking skills or the perspective needed to talk about black lives within the classroom environment. If she did, I imagine this would be a start of disrupting racial injustice that our students experience. Thank you for your mention of Toni Morrison’s “My Bluest Eye.” That book has been on my “to read” list for years, and I hope I can get around to it during winter break. I agree schools should include more works by Black authors, to get a worldview perspective, but I think the issue starts with the school boards, who choose the curriculum, and are quite often predominantly white. Maybe if our school boards would hire more people of color, we can contribute to a more impacting value of education upon our students. Or maybe if we taught more about Black Lives Matter, we can produce more students who are supportive of the cause, which can contribute to a more diverse school board in the future? I think this is a case of “was the chicken or the egg first?”
I was finally able to locate your discussion post. Your post was beautifully written, and I enjoyed reading it very much. I loved how you included both of your experiences observing your 8th-grade class and your high school experiences. I agree with all of your points made. As future and current educators, we need to introduce more Black authors, novels, and articles. We need to incorporate meaningful and open conversations in our classrooms. We need to celebrate Black empowerment, and we need to show our love for Black lives. We need to humanize the lives of Black youths. Lastly, we need to be including an inclusive curriculum.
Your post is so thoroughly composed and right on the dot when it comes to the meaning behind the Black Lives Matter movement. I can’t agree more with your point of how we need to apply this by “humanizing” rather than being destructive. Your example of how we portray the Black people as weak and inferior makes so much sense and how it demoralizes them. As a person of that is not Black, I grew up learning about Black history as them starting from enslavement back in the colonies to fighting for their civil rights. I can totally understand the frustration from their society on how none of the other significant aspects of their culture are being portrayed throughout history, with only these major dehumanizing events being brought up for the younger generations to learn. As teachers, not only do we need to incorporate an inclusive and safe environment that reaches out to all races, we need to expand our curriculum as you’ve stated, that doesn’t promote that victim narrative.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful post. I agree with many of the issues that you delve into here, and I love that, even though this is an ELA dialogue, you included history as well. I think that ELA teachers should be encouraging many of our conversations and discussions to become interdisciplinary, and history is so important when we are reading texts in the classroom. I just recently took a class on Black radical visions at Penn State that really opened my eyes to Black history in a way that I never was exposed to before. Even during the era of slavery, there were successful and powerful autonomous Black maroon communities, radicals, and rebels that really show that, despite the atrocities of slavery, Black people and culture have never simply just been victims. So why do our history books suppress these stories? I think that the ELA classroom can be a great place for exposing our students to these figures who are often neglected and allowing them to do their own critical research into the true stories of people like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Fanny Lou Hamer, etc. Then, BLM will be properly contextualized as the present day legacy of centuries of active struggle for liberation rather than some modern concept that just became popular. Thanks for your response!
Your post is incredibly insightful. The truth is that whether in history or English classrooms, the enslavement narrative and the first and most prevalent story of Black lives. Shifting the narrative away from this idea of enslavement and toward the history and culture of Black lives. Connecting to current events is essential, because the fight for civil rights isn’t something that ended in the 1960s. And I think that the point you make in your last paragraph cannot be overstated– at the heart of this discussion is empathy and connection. We have to connect with our students and teach them empathy and not dehumanize the Black students in our classrooms. This happens too often in the current system that we have in place, where whiteness is celebrated as the dominant culture, and as a result our students of color suffer.
My name is Will Shelton, and I’m a graduate student in Clarksville, Tennessee. Teaching for Black lives means creating spaces in our classrooms to listen to the wide range of intersectional experiences of Blackness, incorporating meaningful multicultural reform to curricula to better account for positive representation in these ways, and joining or organizing faculty-student coalitions that advocate for social justice for marginalized communities both in and out of the school setting.
Regarding these first two points, multicultural reform within the United States’ system of education, particularly including greater representation of African American and Black bodies of work, is not a new idea. Since the publication of Gloria Ladson-Billings and William Tate’s (1995) seminal article, “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education,” educators have been aware of the salience of incorporating more direct references to the history and significance of Black people within the development of this country. However, any meaningful change within educators’ syllabi across the country has often been minimal, opting to condense any and all Black representational literature into the month of February in consideration of Black History Month while leaving the rest of the predominantly White male canon untouched to comprise the rest of the syllabi. This type of segregated syllabus is merely tokenism at best, and an extension of systemic racism at worst. In order to achieve real multicultural reform, one must reexamine the entirety of the syllabus to find spaces where Black stories may be told alongside, or even in place of, the overtaught histories of White America. For those interested, two excellent texts that provide suggestions for curricular revisions are James Banks’s (2009) _Teaching Strategies for Ethnic Studies_ and Zeus Leonardo’s (2013) _Race Frameworks: A Multidimensional Theory of Racism and Education_.
To quote briefly from the latter text, Leonardo writes, “Critical Race Theory in Education proceeds by unmasking apparently nonracial phenomena as precisely racial in their nature” (p. 19). Examples of this unmasking include pointing out both personal and institutional forms of racism in the classroom, like how Black students are disciplined more frequently than White students, or how predominantly Black schools receive poorer funding and less educational materials on average than predominantly White schools (Leonardo, 2013). Johnson et al. (2017) in “Loving Blackness to Death” expand this oppression to anti-Black violence, saying, “At the same time that we believe Black youths’ physical deaths are proceeded by depictions of them as thugs, criminals, uneducable, and subhuman, we also believe this symbolic form of violence transpires in classrooms where educators hold dehumanizing assumptions about the history, culture, and language of Black youth” (p. 61). In the face of this stark reality, CRT calls for the development of a Black voice in school teaching, not to characterize Black people as victims of oppression but to celebrate them for their many moments of historic strength. This follows what Watson discusses in the panel as the importance of positive representation of Blackness to resist its commonly taught narrative of victimhood: “If you always see me as something to be helped, then I can’t be human. And so you humanize me by seeing me as your equal, as a member of a community that has good things and bad things, and you celebrate the goodness of my past, and you also don’t portray me as a victim” (41:00). Accounting for a wider and more inclusive narrative of intersectional voices on Blackness in these ways helps lay the groundwork for teaching Black lives. But, it is just a start.
Regarding the last point on faculty-student coalitions, which Kaler-Jones refers to in the panel as “the strategic praxis of organizing” (20:40), builds upon the necessary academic framework of teaching Blackness with relevant applications to the real world, like at John Muir Elementary. As Au concludes in his presentation on the organized allyship of this elementary school in the face of racist threats, “Folks need to understand their power and that they are powerful, and that when we get together and fight this stuff, we can grow real movements that can push real change across the country” (20:10). I love that as a larger academic community in this forum we are contributing to this movement, but I also want to warn against the complacency of words without actions. Without putting our well-intentioned lessons into practice, we as educators fail our students in connecting the two disparate worlds of academia and reality and contribute to MK Asante’s point on the “two sets of notes” that Hagopian reads in the panel (52:00). As such, we must do what we can as leaders in our communities to stand up against anti-Black violence and racism. We are stronger together. Black Lives Matter.
Your post really captures the essence of the stagnant nature of our schools. Limiting instruction that represents Black lives to February as if to send the message that Black lives are as novel as a holiday, only to be celebrated in February just like we only celebrate Christmas in December. Your motion to challenge these limitations and interweave representation of Black lives throughout the curricula is powerful and necessary. You mention the “White male canon” as having the majority of control over the syllabi that guide our classrooms, and you speak to how the classroom is where the racial injustice begins. The quotes you provided are evidence of the heartbreaking realities our students are facing today, and perhaps it’s not to the fault of malicious educators, but their ignorance and submission must be considered.
To Jesse Hagopian’s point in the Teaching for Black Lives During the Rebellion panel, “students today are becoming the educators” (23:57). These “educators” are bringing awareness to a mark on our society that has existed for too long. Through awareness and action, our students will help lead us to become a more accepting, celebratory, and equitable society, and it will start in their classrooms. They will hold their educators accountable. Gone are the days of passive instruction while we turn our cheeks, so we don’t make waves. We, as educators, as the sculptors of our future, have a responsibility to do right by our students, to change the narrative, and to help create a better world for the generations to come.
In regards to the second discussion question, “What is the Black Lives Matter Movement, and what role do you see it playing in schools? How do you see these principles guiding your teaching practices, if at all?” the Black Lives Matter Movement is defined to be “a political and social movement originating among African Americans, emphasizing basic human rights and racial equality for Black people and campaigning against various forms of racism.” I believe that the Black Lives Matter Movement will play an important role in present day and the years to come because African American students want to express themselves and voice their discontent of being treated unfairly. As future educators, it is important to reflect on the history of America and stop the racial injustice that our students face or may have faced especially at school. School should be a safe place for all students and a place where students have the freedom to express themselves in a respectful manner and are accepting of other students that many not think or look like them. In physical education, my primary focus is to create a classroom that is inclusive to all of my students so I believe that focusing on basic human rights and racial equality will be an important topic to discuss with my students. In P.E. we encourage students to have good sportsmanship, so encouraging students to have basic human rights and to have racial equality with everyone regardless of the their background or the color of their skin should be no different. The article “Loving Blackness to Death” states that, “If we cease to do nothing, then our dutiful Black lives may continue being passable for death under the book, the ballot, and the bullet. What if our quest toward a better world free of the chains of police violence, economic deprivation, mass incarceration, and anti-Blackness inferiority complex starts with Black Diasporic literacy and Black literacies? What if our Haitian rebellion, our Denmark Vesey movement, and our Ferguson uprising are central to starting a new Black consciousness? And, what if our imagination as Black thinkers, teachers, and community members are death-defying acts of love that can reap a world anew?” It makes sense that if we don’t do anything in our classrooms or in schools that nothing will change, our students will continue to be uneducated when it comes to the Black Lives Matter Movement and everything will stay the same, therefore, I believe that focusing on the racial injustices that our students face is an important topic that needs to be discussed more in schools.
Moreover, in regards to the third discussion question, “How can we reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth?” I believe that as educators we are called to create decent human beings! Our job as teachers should not just be to teach students how to properly throw a football, it should also be to teach our students to be kind, respectful, and accepting of others and their ideas. As a future physical education teacher, I know the importance of creating a physically and emotionally safe classroom, however, I think that “emotionally safe” means more nowadays than we could have ever imagine. I strive to create a classroom that is safe for all of my students at all different levels. Team building activities are a great way to create a safe and culturally responsive classroom. The purpose of participating in team building activities is to work together as a group and be supporting and accepting of others. I believe that incorporating examples of racial injustice into the team building activities can help students to have a different perspective and empathize and understand what Black youth and Black people have had to deal with for years. The article “Loving Blackness to Death” states that, “To humanize the lives of Black youth, the field of English education must start incorporating the multiple Black literacies and language Black students bring to classrooms. To deny Black youths’ literacies is to dismiss their humanity, which often transpires from this endemic phenomenon of anti-Blackness.” I may not be an ELA teacher, but as a physical education teacher I can incorporate multiple Black literacies and language into my lessons and provide a space to humanize the lives of Black youth.
I enjoyed reading your post! I agree with you that the Black Lives Matter Movement plays an important role in education. It is not new that African Americans suffer from inequality in our society, but we have been seeing this more often in the present day. This year we have seen how many African Americans have been brutally killed by police officers and not much has been done to address these horrific issues. We have seen many protests demanding justice and equality for the Black Community, but nothing has changed. In schools, African American kids are not being represented by the curriculum, so we as educators need to change this. Every student should feel safe, respected, and represented in their classroom. I totally agree with you that we, not only as teachers, but as human beings, have to reflect on the history of African Americans in the U.S. and do as much as we can to stop the racial injustice that is faced by many of our students. I liked how you mentioned that schools should be a place where everyone respects and accepts each other regardless of their skin color. This is extremely important. We have to educate ourselves and our students so that they learn to respect everyone. Students spend most of their day in school, so it is imperative that they are not learning academic content, but also learning to respect people who do not look like them. If we fail to do so, as you said, nothing will change and students will continue to be uneducated when it comes to the Black Lives Matter Movement.
I like your approach to create a P.E classroom as a space that disrupts racial injustice. I totally agree with you that team building activities are great opportunities for students to work with others who may be different from them and learn to respect those differences. Team building activities teach our students to work in a team towards a common goal. Specifically, I like how you mentioned you will incorporate examples of racial injustice into the team building activities. This is a great way for students to learn and educate themselves about what is happening in our society and therefore understand what their Black peers have experienced over the years.
I believe your students will be very fortunate to have you as their P.E teacher! Thank you for sharing and good luck in your career.
Hello Everyone! My name is Samantha McIntyre from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. Black Lives Matter is a movement to advocate against violence towards black people. This can be seen in schools in multiple ways. The lack of black lives can be seen in the curriculum and the pro-blackness can be seen in the personalities of teachers and students. Issued textbooks will briefly brush over black history and culture, therefore making black students feel inferior. Even though schools and even students do not realize at the time what is happening it is something that does have a lasting effect on students. Black Lives Matter at Schools is a branch of the Black Lives Matter movement focusing on trying to get black history and culture represented in schools. It is not just meaning trying to get us to strictly learn black history only, but integrate it in. It can be as simple as adding literature pieces, spoken word poems, or even music written by blacks into the lesson. It is really just a way to sway the stereotypes and thoughts about black people. I believe these principles will be included in anyone’s teaching practices even if they are aware of it or not. It could be a few or all, but it some way you will at least have one. Every single one of these practices come down to accepting everyone for the way they are. I am a firm believer of everyone has their own opinions and you can agree or disagree with them, but no hate should be spread because you have a different opinion from someone else. No matter someone’s age, race, gender, sexuality, background, etc. they have the right to their own opinions. Everyone comes from different backgrounds and it is because of those differences that every person has different opinions. As a future teacher, I will thrive for my classroom to be a safe environment for students to be themselves while still learning all they need to be successful adults. In school systems in my area, they make it very hard for teachers to break away from what they are told they should teach. Therefore, it is hard to have that freedom needed to teach blackness in schools. The way I wish to do this is in the “wiggle room.” There is always creative freedom on how to teach a lesson, because as long as they learn the information, we are told they should learn it the teacher has the wiggle room to teach it their own way. By using spoken word pieces, songs, and culture I hope that will introduce blackness into my classroom. Even if there are not black children in my room the students will learn to accept people of different cultures and backgrounds. I think the biggest thing children need to learn in school is acceptance of others no matter their opinions. This world is ruled by hate and these principles are built on the stance of just accepting everyone for who they are. It is not saying you need to change what you believe or even love those who disagree with you. It is saying we should all learn to agree to disagree and understand that it is okay for others to have different opinions from you.
Hi Samantha! My name is Cassidy, and I attend FSU in Massachusetts. I really like your comment about how we can incorporate teaching about black lives. As you said, it can be super simple, whether it is adding literature, poems, or music! I feel as though people do not realize how easy it is to create an inclusive learning environment that goes against racial injustice. And I completely agree that the lack of teaching about black lives shows up in the teachers’ and students’ personalities. Honestly, I believe that people do not realize how much damage not addressing these injustices and ignoring outwards support of black experiences does to the students. We can see students using harmful language, and part of it is because they are not taught that these words are damaging. Their knowledge in these areas and their worldviews are so restricted that they do not know to be conscious of this harmful language. Teachers need to set an example of how these words and actions will not be tolerated, and they must do that by incorporating more about black lives into the curriculum. As you said, even if there are no black children in some of our classrooms, they still need to learn acceptance and be taught about black experiences in depth!
Hey Samantha, my name is Matt and I’m a senior at Penn State. I agree that sometimes we have to start small, but a little goes a long way. It’s all about whatever we can do or include in our lessons. Empathy is key here and I think you really hit on that aspect throughout your post. It’s important to always be building racial understanding in our classrooms and being aware not only of what is taught, but what is not taught. This is what’s know as the “shadow” or hidden curriculum. It’s just as powerful and has as much influence on our students on what were actually teaching them, whether they (or us) know it or not. If we keep these things in mind, I think the journey to a classroom focused on racial justice is just a little closer.
Hello! My name is Sydney Hermey and I got to Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. I will be focusing on the first question for this discussion. The Black Lives Matter Movement aims for “freedom and justice” for black individuals, with special regard to transgender, queer, and black women which are especially targeted. The movement embodies ideals of peace, love, empathy, and creating a community almost like a family between black individuals.
I see the Black Lives Matter Movement having a substantial involvement in our schools in the very near future. The political climate in the United States right now is very turbulent, especially in terms of the recent injustices to black individuals and the riots protesting said injustices. Enormous events such as these do not dissipate when walking into a school building; students will bring it with them. In elementary schools, wherein I plan to teach, this will likely come in when students tell stories, talk about what their parents told them, and possibly mentioning their parents being involved in either a movement to stop injustice, or being a victim of injustice themselves. Older students such as high schoolers are more likely to be vocal about their opinions, which means it will likely be a large topic of discussion (and is likely very important right now in schools). High school teachers should be prepared for the conversations and be ready to talk about it with their students.
In terms of my teaching, I am not entirely sure how it will come into play just yet. My plan is to teach early elementary school students (aiming for first or second grade). I have no idea how much will change in the few years it will take me to graduate and the time before I have my own classroom. I could be totally wrong and there is a much more substantial impact on elementary schoolers, and I will have to adjust for that. I would obviously aim to be as inclusive as possible and talk to my students about issues that bother them, but I also know it will be hard to decide appropriateness for their age. I’m sure this will be a topic I build upon with experience, but I would also appreciate any suggestions from you guys!
Hey Sydney! You were absolutely right when said that the events taking place in our society “do not dissipate when walking into a school building.” Children are receptive and in-tuned to their surroundings, and like you said, they will pick up what their parents are saying and doing, and they will carry that into the classroom. I agree, teachers must be ready to acknowledge this load that their students are carrying and be an active pillar of support in their journeys. That can take on many forms for educators from allotting time in class for discussion and recognition to being aware of events in the community to interjecting these topics into our lessons. This can be a challenge for educators in certain districts, so their efforts must be strategic and thoughtful; they must not waiver because silence is how we got to this point.
Regarding your teaching, first and second graders are impressionable. Whatever your approach looks like, it must be age appropriate. It doesn’t have to be reading graduate-level articles or showing footage of injustice (obviously); it can be activities where students work together toward a common goal, where they celebrate each other’s differences, or even simply including representations of all members of our society in your curriculum. I feel we are a leg up from our predecessors, and through this discussion, we are already building a brighter future.
As a secondary education major, it was interesting to hear about the perspective of a future elementary teacher. I think you are certainly right that students cannot drop their feelings and the effects of the conversations and pain surrounding policy brutality and BLM once they get to schools. I am interested in your idea of “age appropriateness” and what that means to you. We don’t want our young students to have to think about violence or harm at such an early age, but I think that many Black children do not get the option of avoiding those conversations or concerns. Is “age appropriateness” to you just being sure not to depict actual violence in the classroom, or not addressing police brutality or racism at all until they are older?
I found this source on Edutopia that discusses how to talk about racism in early elementary school and how important it is, and I hope that it might be helpful! The link is below. I also think that the Black Lives Matter in Schools demands might be relevant to your elementary school work. Ending punitive zero tolerance policies that disproportionately affect Black students in schools, for example. Not that long ago, a 6-year-old was arrested and her wrists were zip-tied together in an Orlando school for throwing a tantrum (link below). This is a really shocking case, but I think it shows how BLM issues are super important in regard to younger students too.
Thank you for being open and sharing your thoughts and ideas, and I appreciate your participation in the dialogue!
The Black Lives Matter movement is an uprising started by members of the black community in order to bring awareness to the discrimination still used against them. The black community has been experiencing many forms of racism since the birth of this country, simply because of the color of their skin. This movement is meant to finally put an end to that once and for all. I believe the role that this movement will play in schools is that special care will now be paid toward teaching that equality at a young age. I support the Black Lives Matter movement and have always done everything I can to make sure that racism ceases. Therefore, I don’t see the movement itself shifting how I will teach but I am sure that equality will be taught in my classroom.
Teaching for black lives means to understand the injustices done towards the black community and put a focus on providing support for and teaching those who experience such injustices. There were many important topics discussed throughout this webinar but the one that really stuck to me was the addressing of the way in which blacks are “victimized.” During the webinar it was stated that from the time we, as students, learn about black history they are made out to be victims and therefore other races are automatically conditioned to feel sorry for them. Black people aren’t given the chance to be equal even from such a young age. I believe this will change my future teaching strategies in that it has shed light to an issue that never even occurred to me.
We can reimagine our classrooms as a safe space, free of the injustices found all over the country. It is important as an educator to provide guidance to all students, even if we haven’t experienced some of the things we’re trying to prevent ourselves. Staying educated on what’s going on in the word and how it may be affecting your students is critical to providing them with the support they need in order to succeed.
I agree that as future educators it is important to understand the many injustices that African Americans are going through in our society in order to successfully teach black lives. By educating ourselves on the injustices facing the black community it will allow us to better support our students who are going through these injustices. We are educators are not only teachers to teach our content area, but also to help guide our students in the real world. By doing so we need to create an inclusive comfortable classroom environment, so that our students feel comfortable to share their cultural background experiences without feeling any judgement.
I could not agree more with you Whitney. I never thought about it in that way before the webinar. It made me think about all the people of color in our history that were never given credit for the work they’ve done to create change in all fields. In my post, I talked about how we should highlight POC throughout the year not just during Black History Month.
My name is Ellie Crumpler. I’m a junior at Penn State studying secondary English education. I agree that the Black Lives Matter Movement encourages teachers to pay special care towards teaching equality to students at a young age. My mom is a kindergarten teacher, and BLM has made her reevaluate the picture book selection in her classroom. She realized that almost all of her books were either about animals or white children. She bought a lot of new books to correct this lack of representation. I believe that the purpose of BLM is to spark moments like this. My mom thought that she was doing a good job teaching equality, but BLM made her realized that she could do better. BLM is a call to action for all of us to reevaluate how we can be better. It is also a call to action for all of us to educate ourselves on the systemic racism embedded in the society around us. It’s through educating ourselves and engaging in the movement that we have realizations like the one you just mentioned about learning about the victimization of Black people in literature. As we continue our careers as teachers, we need to continue to engage and learn. We need to actively find ways to amplify the voices of BIPOC authors, artist, and historical/ contemporary figures. This kind of action is essential to creating the kind of safe environment you wrote about.
I also agree that it’s very important to stay educated on current events. Students are going to want to talk about current events. If teachers are educated on these issues, they can find ways to facilitate meaningful discussions with students about current events. I think that it’s important that teachers seize opportunities to have difficult but meaningful discussions like these. Teachers who choose to avoid political discussions are inherently taking a political stance in support of the status quo. If teachers want to be agents of change, it’s so important that they engage students in current discussions and make space for them to form their own opinions. Trusting students to have these kinds of conversations is part of humanizing students and valuing the knowledge that they bring with them.
How can we reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth?
As a future teacher I will create a classroom that disrupts racial injustice, transforms the world, and humanizes the lives of black youth. As a teacher it is so incredibly important to create a comfortable and accepting classroom regardless of a students race or background. Although we may not be going through the same injustices that African Americans are going though in their everyday life, we as teachers can still find ways to educate ourselves on the political and social injustices negatively impacting the African American community. By educating ourselves on these injustices it will help us as educators get to know our black youth students and try to support them in order for them to be successful not only in the classroom, but also out in society.
What is the Black Lives Matter Movement, and what role do you see it playing in schools? How do you see these principles guiding your teaching practices, if at all?
The Black Lives Matter Movement is political and social movement that was created in the United States in 2013. The Black Lives Matter Movement is dedicated to fighting racism and Anti-Black Violence, especially in regards to police brutality. I believe that The Black Lives Matter Movement will play a huge important role in schools because it will strive to gain equity amongst all students, especially for minority students. In regards to the 13 guiding principles I plan on incorporating them within my own classroom teaching practices when I am a teacher because I believe that these principles are incredibly important for teaching students how to embrace one anothers cultures and identities without any judgement.
I like your ideas on teachers educating themselves on the injustices prevalent in society today. It’s crucial for educators be critically, culturally conscious — especially if they want to instill that same consciousness in students. I agree with you — in order for educators to disrupt racial injustice, they themselves have to be informed on past and present injustices and devoted to empowering all students. I appreciate your explanation of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and I also believe that the BLM will play a huge, important role in schools, and I think that it should. Creating awareness and appreciation for the charge behind BLM is so important, and those who are leading this revolution are today’s students. I think that Gen Z are absolutely tomorrow’s leaders, if not, today’s leaders. I’m very excited to get into the classroom to teach and learn alongside today’s students. Great post with thought-provoking ideas. Thank you for sharing!
I am a first year Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teacher, in Clarksville, TN, teaching the senior course at the Computer and Information Technology Academy (CITA) at a Title I school system; where I am seeking my licensure though a job embedded program. This is my second act in life, my first act was a scientist for 23 years in the US Air Force were I instructed at Air University and providing strategic direction of $4B to the science and technology enterprise of more than 10,000 researchers worldwide shaping the future of the Air Force.
My reflection is on, how can we reimagine our classroom as spaced that disrupt racial injustices, transform the work and humanize the lives of Black youth?
From the first day of my course, I inform my senior students they are adults, and when they walk through doors of my class they are adults, in 8 months they will be walking off this campus as graduates, and my goal for them is to be to career and college ready. At any point in time we can talk about anything that will prepare them for either one of those goals. We do have to obey the few school rules the principal has set for us, of no fighting, no cell phone (which I redefine as no gaming on cell phones) and mutual respect. All the students in the class are starting their 4th year together, and come from across the entire city to be part of the Academy.
In my classroom, I attempt to tear down the walls of racial bias, expect inclusion and move the student into a state of belonging. Each student has earned the right to be in my class by their talent and merit. My course will give them the rigor then need to attend the colleges and careers of their choice.
I start off by assigning my students a 6 to 7 page term paper about themselves and their desired plans for the future. They need to research at least three college/university/tech schools. As students are looking at what schools they desire to attend, I inform them of possible choices as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), we are fortunate to have Tennessee State University (one of the twelve state public universities) within an hour’s drive of our school.
I team with the school counselor, who happens to be an African American. She conducts one-on-one meetings with each student after reading their roadmaps dreams (from the paper) to see if their reality is possible based on past performance and possible scholarship opportunities. If possible, (Due to COVID-19 and parents schedules) she arranges an in-person tour of a university for the student and their parents.
In TN, each student is guaranteed the TN promise (a scholarship of ten thousand dollars towards a public college or trade school, regardless of high school GPA, ACT scores or family income); so I provide a presentation about the program and offer student in class time to submit the application.
Some of my Black students have identified they will be the first in their families to go to college, so I make sure to call the parents and discuss the importance of the FASFA. I give the students extra credit when their parents send me an email/note about completing their part (which is the FASFA.)
Lastly, seniors are only required to take 5 classes (instead of 7), if they pass all their courses the previous three years. To fill in the time, some of the students take 2 study halls have delay start or early release.
For my college bound students, and as part of the previously mentioned life roadmap, I have them review a college degree plan. Then during class, I bring up the topic of Duel Enrollment (DE) classes (college class offered by our local Austin Peay State University), and ask why students aren’t taking advantage of this opportunity, these classes will cost them about $1K next year. Why don’t they take a few of these DE classes that are free, and get the feel of what college work will be like so they can easy into it next year? Hopefully next semester all the first and last period classes will be filled with college bound students.
Back to the question of “My reflection is on, how can we reimagine our classroom as spaced that disrupt racial injustices, transform the work and humanize the lives of Black youth?”
I like to think why reimagine our classroom and instead start placing small changes (like the ones mentioned previously) in the classrooms challenging students to rise to the same level of academics and rigor that other students are performing at but in the safety net of high school. Hopefully giving them the confidence and support to seek the free post-secondary education that is offered by the state, changing their lives and put into a near term grasp the opportunity to earn a living wage to support themselves and their future families. By working with school counselors, administrators, financial aid advisors, and post-secondary (college and tech schools) acceptance programs we can provide a whole of government team approach to transforming the work and humanizing the live of Black youth and peers in the classroom, thus lifting these students from poor social economical-standards they were born into.
I think this is really cool how you run your class. You mentioned how you treat your students like adults and I feel like this is very important. Once they graduate they will be out in the real world and be treated like adults. Treating them like adults in a structured environment helps with that adjustment. I also love how well you work with the school counselor and the students parents to make sure they are taking the appropriate steps to apply and get information about colleges. As a first generation college student I had a lot of resources and help figuring out college but I feel like you are going the extra mile which is what students need/deserve. Keep doing what you are doing!
Hello everyone! My name is Kate Rocha, and I’m writing in from Framingham State University. I’m currently studying to be an English teacher. I think it’s also important to use classroom space well. In a class I took this spring, my professor asked us: “If I took a screenshot of this Zoom meeting and emailed it to you, what’s the first thing you would do? You’d look for yourself. When students walk into a classroom, they want to find themselves.” It’s important then, to make sure that when students, especially black students, walk into a space, they can clearly see that their culture is valued and celebrated consistently, and not just during Black History Month, or around MLK Day. I’ve been so inspired by all the ideas I’ve seen while scrolling this discussion.
As a K-12 student, I was in so many classrooms that were well decorated, but all of the art, or poems, or quotes on the wall come from white artists and writers and perspectives. As a person with a mixed ethnic background, I was made to feel like some aspects of my identity were more valued than others. I don’t want any students to leave my classroom feeling like that. In addition to visuals that reinforce that Black Lives and Voices and Art Matter, in my future classroom, I am going to do all I can to center black voices in our many reading assignments— through essays, novels, poetry.
Thanks to everyone for sharing their thoughts with everyone! Reading through this discussion has been one of the highlights of my weekend— being exposed to different perspectives and ideas is the cornerstone of education, and reading through everyone’s comments has really pushed me to do better and learn more.
I loved the quote you mentioned from your professor. I think it’s a powerful metaphor for how some students feel when they do not see themselves being represented in the classroom. I believe all students want is to be heard, respected, and loved, and be a part of a classroom community that makes students feel this appreciation. I agree with you on your ideas on valuing and celebrating the varied cultures that exist in the classroom consistently — not just during Black History Month or around MLK day. This “celebration” of Black culture really just marginalizes them more because it teaches them that the White narrative, White history is the norm or the dominant culture. I think it’s important for future educators to reflect on their own student experience, and sadly for many, the feelings of exclusion or not valued as much as others is a common experience for minority students. However, its future educators like you that create the change we need to see in the system. Great post! Thank you for sharing!
Hello Kate! I love the example your professor gave about looking at yourself first, that’s such a simple point to make but it really does ring true for our future classrooms. I think it’s so important that all students start seeing themselves in the classroom, for so long education has had such a Eurocentric look, and I think one of the only ways we’ll be able to progress and all continue growing together is by making sure all of our students are being reflected in their education.
Hi Kate! Thanks for sharing that quote from your professor! So powerful and so true! We’ve been reading The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell in one of my courses and I’ve enjoyed reading how she chose literature that the students could see themselves in and relate to and how they really embraced and enjoyed learning that way. The general curriculum is so Eurocentric and it’s so valuable to like you said – center black voices in the reading assignments, add visuals to the walls that affirm and uplift black lives, etc.
My name is Maria Kamar, I am a senior studying Secondary English Language Arts Education at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. I was born and raised in Syria and moved directly to Lincoln, Nebraska in 2014. Since I didn’t grow up here, I always want to continue building my knowledge about the Black Lives Matter Movement and that’s why I chose to explore question #1. I went on the website of BLM At Schools and it was such an eye opener for me. I learned that the Black Lives Matter Movement is guided by great principles that will help me be aware of what I can do as a teacher to support my students.
All of the principles mentioned on the website are important to know and to be practiced in schools. We need restorative justice and most importantly empathy. There also has to be loving engagement because that’s one thing I hope to build in my classroom, an effective environment to where students can be engaged and accepting of each other. Diversity plays another important role at schools because students come from many different backgrounds and languages, we should be committed to celebrating those differences and as I teacher I want to welcome students to share their background or language; practice their traditions and culture in the classroom. Which leads us to teaching equality to our students, I didn’t fully understand what that meant or what it looks like until I got to college and I believe that should be taught earlier, to our young adults. I want my students to leave my classroom understanding the principles of BLM movement.
I also learned a lot from the video titled “Teaching for Black Lives During the Rebellion” because it inspired me to include more diverse authors in my teaching. A quote I took is, “I never saw black people in our textbooks.” This drives me to make sure diverse authors are included and black stories are read.
I still have a lot to learn and I hope I was able to communicate my thoughts on the question clearly. I seek to be a teacher that values her students and teaches them how to be kind and respectful of one another.
Hello, my name is Blake Wilhite, and I am a graduate student at APSU in Tennessee, who hopes to be teaching social studies at the high school level.
In regards to the first question, to me, the Black Lives Matter Movement has been one not only about the legal and political need for equality, which is what I imagine we are most familiar with, but instead, the movement is also about getting black lives to matter in all regards, as black lives have been subjugated to being erased or overlooked for too long, The Black Lives Matter Movement is intended to move not only the country, as well as the rest of the world, to a place where we are more acknowledging of black lives, and what impact they have had on the world, and continue to have.
I think it is so important as educators, that we help the movement, by bringing it into the classroom, and allowing for students to understand the full history of the world. This is the role I see Black Lives Matter having in the classroom. I see it normalizing discussion of black exceptionality within the curriculum. I recall all throughout my time in the school system how Euro-centric my education was, and how that affected my understanding of the world. The primary example of this was that February was always black history month, and my teachers would always be sure to talk about black historical figures, and their accomplishments. And yet, when it came to the other eleven months of the year, it was back to white people and their accomplishments. I never understood why there wasn’t a balanced approach to teaching, even from teachers who themselves came from diverse backgrounds. I feel like the Black Lives Matter is making great strides to break that Euro-centricity in education, as well as in other things, and how Black Lives Matter is creating a more equal classroom, which breeds diversity of ideas and community. This is something that I will strive to help usher into the classroom. I will seek to do this by having some of the principles of the Black Lives Matter movement as my own guiding principle in creating my classroom, such as how I will encourage empathy in myself and in students, so that we may all learn more about our diversity and commonalities, and how they bring us together.
I appreciated your response because, as a future English Language Arts teacher, I feel as if I never get to hear from other subject areas regarding this topic. You have quite the responsibility of teaching against norms that we may associate with the social studies curriculum. I’m glad that there are teachers of the new generation willing to fight against these norms of Euro-centric curriculum. I agree with you that BLM is a movement that is intended for the entire world as its audience. This will be something for you to highlight in your future classrooms as well. I think your students will appreciate you all the more for showing your empathy for these topics and not shying away from it, like other teachers in your field might tend to do. I too spent 11 months of my year studying people just like me and all of their accomplishments in history. This did not teach me empathy for others – and I wish I was taught it earlier than when I first came to the realization that this is all that I had studied. I would have liked to have had a teacher that taught like you aspire to do.
Like you said, despite our diversity and differences, we do still have many commonalities. I hope more people intend to spot these similarities, if only to bring more unity between us all.
Thank you for sharing!
My name is Jennifer Nguyen and I am a senior Secondary English Education student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
I read/viewed the website “BLM at School.” Looking through this website, there are 13 principles that help expand students’ understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement. I am familiar with most of these principles, and what surprised me the most is that this is my first time learning that such a thing exists.
I am very familiar with what the Black Lives Matter Movement is — it’s the political and social movement that advocates for the lives and voices of African Americans and it eradicates white supremacy. In the eyes of many, BLM can be seen as a threat as it shows the power that Black people have. However, BLM could also be seen as something that needs more reconsideration — something that is not a threat and must be taken seriously. The purpose of BLM is to acknowledge that Black lives and voices need to be recognized and people of color must be treated the same as those who are White. Because this is a critical conversation to engage in and will cause many problems in a general setting, it can be a hit or miss if introduced in schools because we are all different. We will not agree on the same things because the world comes from many different views.
I am in my final year in my teaching program, so I am still trying to figure out what my teaching philosophy is. However, I know that I want to teach for better humans. The 13 principles listed on the website all advocate for positivity and equality within the Black community, and this is what I also want to do in my classroom. Even though I might not be as knowledgeable as others on this topic, I want my students to know that I am trying and that I am committed to respecting and celebrating differences and commonalities.
Teaching for Black lives means that I want to make my classroom a welcoming space. Make it clear that anti-blackness is resisted and my students are free to learn the beauty in blackness without making my students who are White feel like they are the ones to blame for the injustice that the Black community faces. It is a difficult approach to get all students to understand what BLM is, but I believe that I can be on the right path with the clear goals and expectations I set for myself and my students.
Hi Jennifer, I really like your comment about wanting to teach for better humans. Part of our role as teachers is to have our students experience a better world than what we have experienced and we will always want better for the generations that follow us. I also appreciated your comment about not making your White students feel like they are the ones to blame for the injustices that the Black community faces. Our future students need to understand that many of the causes of the injustices came before their time and they were not a reason for these things happening, however they have the ability to make changes for the future.
Good evening! My name is Jamarius Jones, I am a Junior at Austin Peay State Unviersity. I will be touching the importance of the ” Black lives matter movement”. Justice for the Black community is so important in today’s society, and the Black lives matter movement is going to determine that. This movement itself is to get the world and society to know the importance of Black lives matter and how black people should be treated the same as any other race. In the text it stated ” we are committed to practicing empathy; we engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts “. Learning the history of how much injustice black people have been receiving over the years is very important, the more understanding people are the more the movement will make sense. Black lives matter is a movement that is encouraging nonviolent tolerance. The movement is also a justice call for the community. The purpose of this movement will allow me to want to get more into teaching history for elementary students, because the more knowledge there are about Black Lives Matter the more understanding it will be for the community. I want to start teaching young kids about history , because in the school systems Black history is either overlooked or skipped through. This movement should be a requirement to learn about in the school systems, because Black people receives a lot of injustice. It also stated in the text ” we are committed to acknowledge , respecting, and celebrating differences and commonalities. The purpose and importance of this movement will allow me to get more into teaching history for elementary students , once I’m done with school.
My name is Joshua Hager, a graduate student in the Masters of Arts in Teaching program at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee. I currently teach World History at the 9th grade level. As a recent hire, last week I incorporated into my class (as I did not want to go in without getting to know the students’ thoughts) a discussion on what quickly turned into current events. The original question was how history relates to our lives, and my students and I thought back to the early days of America. As I asked them- what did the early revolutionaries do because of their disdain with Britain and King George? They protested. They protested the English Crown because they felt as if their rights as human beings were neglected. They thought they should be represented if they had to pay taxes. You know the story! Well, that quickly turned into the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. And to my surprise, the name “Black Lives Matter” was used several times. One student said “this is 400 years years of neglect and they are tired of it”. He identifies as a white male. Another student said “sometimes we have to mess things up to get the attention of those in power”. There were so, so many powerful statements made by 9th graders- 14 and 15 year olds. I am still just in shock and have goose bumps thinking about it! Though many would disagree, I believe, just from what I witnessed and heard that day, that the future is in good hands. I say all that to say- we must create an opportunity for students to feel welcomed to share their experiences, opinions, and differences. The Black Lives Matter movement is a movement that basically says- we have had enough. The Declaration of Independence says “We know these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal”. The fact is: America has not, HAS NOT, lived up to this petition. When will they? This principles guide my teachings as I will always teach the historical truth, historical facts. And I will always invite students to look at situations in an un-biased way. Yes, black lives matter, and I intend to fully represent the idea that all men are created equal and SHOULD be treated that way in my teachings.
I really appreciate your post! Your examples demonstrate how to take what we have learned about in this dialogue and put it into practice. I like how you opened a conversation with your students with a broad question so that students could respond with what they think is important and relevant to their lives. It was a great way to get to know them and to show them that you respect and welcome their thoughts. I think connecting the early revolutionaries’ reaction to Britain and King George to our current day and the Black Lives Matter protests this summer works on multiple levels. It focuses on collective power and agency which, as the speakers in our video point out, is often left out of historical narratives. Additionally, it helps illuminate that protest has a history in this country and is not something that is unpatriotic, as some claim. Your commitment to bringing in historical truth and facts could not be more important. It is one thing to talk about beliefs but students need tangible proof and examples to have a fuller understanding of the context of our current world. Your students’ words give me chills too! They made such perceptive and honest comments. They are the hope of our future! Your story confirms Jesse Hagopian’s statement that students should become the educators. There is so much to learn from them! I went to school that had a “never discuss politics in the classroom” mindset and all I see now is a world of adults who cannot hold even a basic conversation about politics. Students are very aware of the events around them, and they need a place to process them. It sounds like you do an amazing job of creating a space for these discussions and scaffolding them so students can make sense of the events of the world. I love that you actually connected your teaching practice to the Declaration of Independence when you said: “all men are created equal and SHOULD be treated that way in my teachings.” Your humanity and breadth of vision will be a wonderful asset to your students! Best wishes to you!
Thank you for sharing this encouraging, hopeful discussion you had with your 9th graders on the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. It brought a smile to my face on election eve! I’m currently student teaching in a 10th grade ELA classroom and always find myself floored with the insights my students share as well. They are very aware of current events and happenings in the word, and more importantly, care. I agree with you–our future is in good hands–and we must continue to provide spaces for our students to share and speak on their “experiences, opinions, and differences.” After all, they are our future and the sooner we give them the opportunities to use their voices, the better. I hope you continue to pose these important questions that lead to timely and relevant discussions. I certainly wish I would have had a history teacher that did! I know it would have made a difference in my education.
Best of luck to you on your new teaching journey!
My name is Molly Sambol and I am a senior soon to graduate with a degree in Secondary Education English/Language Arts with a minor in International Studies. I am currently attending the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and observing a racially diverse 8th grade classroom.
For most of my life I have attended schools and have been a part of communities where basically everyone has looked like me and has grown up in a similar background to mine. Since coming to college I have embarked on a journey of widening my own view point through listening to others and educating myself. This is a journey I imagine that will continue throughout my entire life.
In response to the question asking what the Black Lives Matter movement is, it is recognizing that the black community should have the same rights as any white person, and that we must work to actualize those rights in our society. What this means in schools is that we must treat all students equally and help them all to succeed in the classroom. While on the surface this may seem like an easy task there is always the problem of unconscious biases that come into play. No matter how much a teacher thinks they treat all their student equally, these unconscious biases will always have an effect on a teacher’s actions whether they know it or not. So I believe that one of the first steps of bringing the Black Lives Matter movement into the classroom is through working to recognize the unconscious biases you may be harboring.
When reading through the principles of the Black Lives Matter movement, there were a few that really stuck out to me, the first being empathy: “We are committed to practicing empathy; we engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.” Through being an English and Literature teacher I believe that our content has the most opportunities compared to other subject to work to realize this principle in schools. One thing that I firmly believe English and Literature teachers must do in the classroom is find content that can create windows and mirrors for their students. By this what I mean is that we must work to give all of our students the opportunity to see them selves in the texts we are reading, but also learn about people and cultures different from their own. This also goes along with the principle of diversity: “We are committed to acknowledging, respecting, and celebrating difference(s) and commonalities.” Teachers must disrupt the stereotypical English class books written by and centered around white people. Diverse books and other media sources need to be brought in so that our students can learn about a world in which every person is represented.
Hi Molly, One of the things I talked about in my original post was also empathy and being empathetic to the backgrounds that people come from and the experiences they have in their lives, even if we haven’t experienced those same things. I really like how you explain the types of literature that should be in the classroom – the kind that the student can see themselves in (mirror) and the kind that they can view other people, cultures, and differences (window). I agree, and will be practicing in my future classroom, that the materials in the curriculum need to be from diverse resources and incorporate as many different cultures and viewpoints so our future students can see the world from a variety of perspectives.
This really will be a journey that one must embark on their whole life. You made a great point about unconscious bias’ – systemic racism and white supremacy is so ingrained in our society, and so often we might not even know if something that we say or do is harmful. Often the intention may not be to cause harm, but the reality is that microaggressions or biases do cause harm and that’s why it’s so important to make this an ongoing journey, constantly checking our own biases and working to be anti-racist. It’s important for me to prioritize the impact my actions or words may have, over what my intentions might be. In my own future classroom I want it to be a safe, welcoming place for students to see themselves and their families and histories in. Just like you said, about creating windows and mirrors for the students to see themselves in and also people from cultures different than their own.
Hey Molly, my name is Matt and I’m a senior at Penn State. Like you, I think empathy is a crucial aspect of teaching English and Literature. We can teach students to empathize first with the characters in the texts we study and then blow that up into a global, real world perspective. This process is especially valuable when used with diverse texts that show students perspectives that they might now normally come across in their day to day lives. Starting them on this journey of self-education that all of us have embarked on in college as early as possible is crucial to ensuring that the next generation and generations to come are better set up than any that have come before.
Hello! My name is Christine Black and I am a graduate student at Austin Peay State University. I am working on getting my Masters of Arts in Teaching for grades K-5. I am responding to the question “What does it mean to teach for Black lives? Discuss the most important issues raised in this webinar; how, if at all, are they useful to your future/current classroom strategies or routines?”
What I believe it means to teach for Black Lives is to make sure our students understand the history and contributions that African Americans have on society. It shouldn’t just be one month out of the year, but while we are teaching a subject we should also recognize the African Americans who contribute in that field of study. When the “Dear Caleb” letter was read during the webinar, it spoke volumes how African American students saw a lack of representation in our curriculum. For me as a future educator, I want to make sure my students have accurate representations on the contributions made by members of all races in the subjects that we are studying. I want my students to know the challenges that the ones who came before them faced and how they overcome those challenges to help make change for a better tomorrow. I want to challenge my students to speak up to things they don’t agree with and ask the question why, instead of accepting the answer that was already placed in front of them. I want to be the teacher that provides a safe place for my students to discuss the issues they are facing in a safe and respectful atmosphere. I want to work with others in my field to learn and create this classroom experience,because I know I do not have all the answers. I believe changing the way we teach and how we conduct ourselves in our own classrooms will spread through the school and then our communities and hopefully providing the change that we so desperately want in society as a whole.
I appreciated your post as I wrote about similar topics. There is a lack of representation for our minority students in school curriculum, and like you said, it is our job as teachers to help rectify this issue. When students don’t see themselves or don’t feel connected to the material they are being presented, they will become uninterested in the material and learning will cease to occur. That is why it is so important to include representation for all of our students.
Taking it a step further, like you mentioned, we need to teach our students about privilege and why not all of them are represented in the content they are learning in their classes. It is only through the questioning and later understanding of why things are the way they are, that change can be fostered in the classroom.
I enjoyed reading your response. I like how you mentioned that it shouldn’t just be one month out of the year where teachers focus on the accomplishments and celebrate Black lives. I also think teachers should incorporate the history and contributions of African Americans all year round. This way, students will be exposed to much more information than limiting instruction to just one month. I also think it’s important how you mentioned not only discussing the history but also discussing important contributions. Most of the time, education focusses on the struggles of Black lives and disregards all the contributions African Americans have made. While I do think it’s important to teach the history of Black lives, Black students should also learn about all the positive contributions to allow them something to be proud of. Bringing this topic into school will invite important conversations that need to happen. Many times, these conversations aren’t happening in our students’ homes, so it is our job as teachers to introduce these topics and encourage curiousity to educate themselves outside of the classroom.
My name is Kendahl Edwards from Clarksville, TN.
The Black Lives Matter movement is a movement that is used to encourage and empower Black people across the world as well as help fight for the freedom and justice of Black people and all people. The role that I see it playing inside schools is very important, I see it being used to inspire, empower and encourage young Black children across the nation. I think it is very important to allow children of all races to learn about the current, and past, discriminations of Black People so that together we can fight to end these discriminations. I believe that the 13 Guiding Principles posted on the Black Lives Matter at School website will help me in my future teaching career to guide and teach children and maybe other teacher the importance of embracing and understanding Black Children. Learning about these principles brings you a step closer to understanding the pain and the fight Black people go through everyday, which in turn will help you and your future classroom children be the change that we need today.
To answer the third question, I’d like to start off by saying that instead of reimagining classrooms to disrupt social injustice, we should reimagine what is taught inside the classroom. In my experience, when learning about slavery or the Civil Rights Movements, it is taught in a way that will not make students, especially white students, uncomfortable. This leaves out harsh facts of the past. It was an uncomfortable time, it was an unfair time and it still is for Black people and should be taught in that way. People do not see slavery as “that bad” of a topic, but it was and the reason people do not see it in that way is because it was not taught to them that way. I believe that teaching children about the entire truth of the past is important because it opens them up to a harsh reality that not many people my age and older understand or know about. Starting with a change in school curriculum will lead to a change in the world and the humanization of Black Lives.
The article I chose to read was “‘Loving Blackness to Death’: (Re)Imagining ELA Classrooms in a Time of Racial Chaos, and I’m glad that I did. It addresses many issues in the classroom that I’ve been thinking about recently. For one, the violence against our black citizens has continued throughout our nation’s entire history. The only thing that has changed is how the violence is enacted. What hasn’t changed, the common thread throughout it all, is that this violence is continually supported by those in power. The systemic racism that flows through our history and our present continues because it was built into our nation’s charter. The socioracial hierarchy needs to be seen for what it is: a system concocted by those in power to stay in power. The hegemony has worked to eradicate the identities and power of the black individual, not just through individual people spouting their racist ideologies, but through institutions built upon the idea of white supremacy. The systems were set up so that everyone not of the race that created the system were set up to fail. If you’re part of the ruling class, and the idea of class has been perpetually connected to the idea of race, and you’re creating the institutions, you would create them to uphold your perceived superiority. Those in power want to stay in power and they’ll do it at the expense of the humanity of historically marginalized black citizens.
Through literature and European history, black students are taught that they are subhuman, that their language is inferior, that their perspectives don’t matter, and this will become part of who they are. This will also be the story that is told to white students, thus making it easier for them to ignore or participate in the violence enacted upon black people in our country. “To highlight, when Black students’ prior knowledge, experiences, culture, literacies, and language are marginalized, ELA teachers are (un)intentionally enacting a curriculum of violence” (61). When we erase the language and contributions of black people from our classroom, we erase the culture and identities. It’s crucial for both black and white students that every voice is heard. We have to do our part by dismantling the racially biased curriculum, especially when we’re made to teach it. We have to use literature to empower where it has previously been used to strip away power and reinforce racist ideologies. It’s our duty to dismantle these ideologies whenever possible and introduce texts written by black authors that contain black characters. If students of color are in the classroom but aren’t represented in the curriculum, we have to ask ourselves why. Texts that aren’t written by white authors need to be valued and taught because they are worthy of inclusion. Actually, they’re more than worthy, they’re necessary. Our students are also worthy and they need to be treated as such by introducing them to more than just the white narrative that has historically been the only focus of our education system. Black lives do matter and so do their voices.
Hello! My name is Riley Perkins, and I am a MAT student with a concentration in Secondary Education at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.
What is the Black Lives Matter Movement?
The Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) is a set of beliefs centered around dismantling prominent societal norms. This movement exposes society’s tendency to group individuals together based on commonalities or differences, to make assumptions of an individual’s capabilities, and to unfairly distribute respect, justice, and opportunities based on unwarranted prejudgments.
This movement is motivated by individuals who communicate and act on the principles upon which the movement is based. It attempts to reshape human interaction by encouraging acceptance and understanding of all human beings. BLM addresses the existing issues and peacefully fosters empathy, justice, and diversity among all individuals regardless of race, sexual-orientation, socio-economic status, culture, or any characteristic in which human beings may embody.
What role do you see it playing in schools?
An application of the principles advocated by the Black Lives Matter Movement can undoubtedly reshape human interaction. School represents the first “society” in which individuals participate; consequently, students develop their role and relationship abilities during their experience in schools. As the Movement develops and exposes the controversial issues underlying our relationships, initial conversations among students and teachers may be tense, yet as students, teachers, and societies act on the principles advocated by the movement, we will see an expansion of human potential, more motivation in students, and better functioning community.
How do you see these principles guiding your teaching practices, if at all?
These principles represent my approach to interactions with all human beings. Within my teaching practices, I will exemplify and encourage these principles. Students will have an example of an individual who acts with acceptance, understanding, and attention to all individuals. In my classroom, I will celebrate human differences. I will allow my students to be unapologetically themselves, and I will encourage students to pursue every opportunity driven by innate curiosity. Within my content area (Economics), many of the economic policies we will study involve underlying societal norms which arguably illustrate an injustice the movement attempts to prevent (Income Inequality for example). I will unbiasedly present the economic concepts, provide multiple economic perspectives of the concept, and enable the students to share their perspectives. During these discussion, I will encourage students to share any opinion while respecting the opinions which may differ from their own. I will approach my teaching practices with collective value as the foundation.
What does it mean to teach for Black lives?
To teach for Black lives is to know students’ journeys to school both in present and in past. It means to recognize that every child is part of a family which influences his/her education. These teachers seek to understand their students, to accept students for who they are, and to encourage their students to become who they desire to be. Teaching for Black lives means actively “resisting and dismantling” anti-blackness and white supremacy throughout all aspects of education and approach multicultural education through more than transferring content knowledge but additionally through a pedagogical approach.
Discuss the most important issues raised in this webinar; how, if at all, are they useful to your future/current classroom strategies or routines?
Firstly, the webinar suggests classrooms are often unnecessarily policed, suggesting police budgets could be more productively dedicated to other educational resources. Jesse Hagopian explains policing has even been transferred to the online format. Teachers are now forced to represent the “cop” over-enforcing dress codes and making excessive assessment accusations within students’ homes. He also defines “attack on black bodies” in which black students directly experience racial violence. He chronicles multiple situations in which black students were unjustly treated by police. He describes the nature of education is “punitive” and “disciplinary–” representing a counterproductive, diminutive educational experience for students. Teachers create more meaningful learning when they focus on humanizing educational spaces. I can apply this to my classroom by utilizing the energy I dedicate to consequences to positively encouraging students. I can create an environment that is not punitive and does not police behavior. I can hold students accountable for meeting the communicated expectations, yet I can also consider the motivations behind students’ behavior rather than make assumptions and punish a student unnecessarily.
Secondly, the panelists expose teachers’ tendencies to avoid discussions on racial controversies. Jesse Hagopian suggests a need to scaffold the discussion students are having in order to help them make sense of what they are seeing. School systems attempt to avoid the discomfort, yet students want to actively lead these discussions. Teachers need to listen and support student demands rather than stifle conversations. In my classroom, I can utilize discussions as a learning opportunities where students are encouraged to share their personal experiences and opinions. I can ask critical questions to guide the discussions and model respectful responses to students’ opinions.
Thirdly, the webinar offers advice for teaching in way that does not demoralize students–exposing that many teachers do not know how to teach for Black lives. Diane Watson explains teachers must see Black students as an equal member of the community, not victimizing the race but talking about the resistance revolts and emphasis Black contributions to American society. I, personally, support multicultural education, yet I fear approaching conversations incorrectly. This webinar conversation helped me organize my approach to teaching diverse students: teach the truth, yet emphasis the power and strength behind all individuals involved in shaping the world in which we live.
How can we reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth?
Johnson, Jackson, Stovall, and Baszile suggest teachers must first understand that America’s history with racial injustice haunts modern day interactions among races. Secondly, teachers need to evaluate the Eurocentric focus on teaching language skills. The authors argue, “traditional curriculum overtly and covertly attacks the beautiful, rich language, namely the African American Language (AAL).” Requiring students to strictly follow grammar rules which fail to acknowledge grammar of other cultures, forces students to perceive their culture’s language as wrong or “incorrect,” when in reality, the incorporation of AAL offers numerous benefits to society: “lyrical expressions to our music, flavors our soulful dishes, galvanizes our sermons, and enhances our comedic expressions.” In order to disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth, teachers should incorporate Black literacies and black language into the classroom–empowering black students through all mediums of education from “tattoos” to “prose.” Incorporating Black literacy and language in the classrooms illustrates that the American English language is not superior to other languages, and it empowers students to recognize the beauty our diverse human creations, particularly through language.
A statement that I found striking from your writing is the notion that school is the first “society” that young people interact with. This made me consider how discourse functions in the classroom, and how that often reflects the society we live in. Is the discourse critical? Is the discourse avoiding topics such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia? Which makes me consider the ways in which school functioned for me, in which most of my education was in PWIs, and how has that impacted how I view society? Your writing about the webinar, in which you concluded that teaching for Black lives includes teaching about the truth– including Black joy, in parallel with school as a first society for young people, much of what I had been taught in predominantly white schools had to do with Black people’s pain and trauma, which dehumanizes the Black community, even though it is the truth. When we teach the truth about the pain of the Black community, we have to make sure that we are also actively and consistently teaching about Black Americans– not as a monolith– but in terms of culture, joy, and love as well.
Hello everyone! I’m Sophia Ridge (Knudson) and I am enrolled at University of Nebraska at Lincoln working toward a Master’s Degree in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education with an endorsement in Secondary ELA.
I watched the webinar “Teaching for Black Lives During the Rebellion,” and I would like to answer the following discussion question: “What does it mean to teach for Black lives? Discuss the most important issues raised in this webinar; how, if at all, are they useful to your future/current classroom strategies or routines?”
Teaching for Black lives means to teach the truth– the truth about American history, the truth about injustices, the truth about systemic oppression. The only way to heal is to process through all of the pain that has accrued through 400 years, critically analyze the system that created and perpetuates white supremacy, and come up with solutions. Problem solving pedagogy with a constructivist lens is the main mode of pedagogical practices taught to pre-service educators, so implementing curriculum and texts that have anti-racist ideas can be added on to this foundation. In the webinar, it is mentioned that we, as educators, can learn a lot from our students. Considering how many movements this summer were lead by youth, it is increasingly clear that our students feel the need to discuss these issues that they have been working toward abolishing, and we need to hear their voices more than ever in our classrooms, so giving space for students to lead discussion around anti-racism topics is crucial. Yet, as said in the webinar, it is vitally important for us as educators to provide context for our students– which means scaffolding these conversations in the classroom. Yes, maybe this is perceived as politicizing education, but it is just as political to ban these conversations, as was discussed in the webinar.
Another point brought up in the webinar is the fact that most of our conversations that surround race (and racism) first begin with slavery, which actively dehumanizes Black Americans and starts the conversation from a place of paternalistic notions that Black people need help and ultimately creates a white savior complex. We cannot only teach stories about Black pain, but also about Black joy, about Black love, and in general about avoid the idea that Black people are a monolith. As stated in the webinar, it does not matter how many Black people attend or work at the school you are in, you should still be teaching about Black stories and integrating Black voices into the curriculum. When these topics were mentioned, the genre Afro-futurism was brought up, which I think could be a whole course on its own. Octavia E. Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” comes to mind, which would be an interesting text to read in class. “The Stars and the Blackness Between Them,” by Junauda Petrus, would also be a phenomenal Young Adult text to bring into the classroom, especially if paired with Romeo and Juliet.
As for educators in Nebraska, or maybe anywhere, there is an instagram account with the handle @educators4blacklivesne which is a wonderful resource and they have a website with local action items and lesson plans!
Hi Sophia! Really great post! You brought up so many great points – from teaching the truth about history and not the glorified Eurocentric dominant narrative that is so often taught, to how teaching black history beginning at slavery is dehumanizing (and creates a white savior complex). With the President pushing to end diversity training and pushing a “patriotic curriculum” it’s really important for teachers and educators to teach the truth and not a history that glorifies men like Columbus and upholds these white supremacist values. All students would benefit from learning the truth and from learning from the many different perspectives that could be brought to the classroom by centering Black voices and stories. Thanks for the resources/book recommendations too, I will definitely be checking those out!
Hi! My name is Melissa Bergmann. I live in Clarksville, Tennessee. I go to Austin Peay State University and my major is early education with a concentration in K-5. The BLM (Black Lives Matter) Movement was started in 2013 after Trayvon Martin was wrongfully shot by George Zimmerman in 2012. With today’s society, I feel like it would be a big part in schools because a lot of younger people nowadays are more expressive with their views. I think these are great principles to have. I believe the Black people do deserve justice. I will be empathetic, engaged, and accepting of anyone who is part of my school. People should be able to be who they want to be without any judgement. “Teaching for Black Lives” means teaching and making the Black lives matter in schools. It means teaching everyone to be accepting of others and teaching everyone to be proud of themselves just how they are. One of the ladies in the video talked about how she rode a bus with other colored people, but once she got to school, she felt invisible and out of place. She loved school and was excited to go, but it made her uncomfortable. Once she got back on the bus, she said she felt better again. I will make sure none of my students feel this way when I become a teacher and I will make sure they feel comfortable and included in everything. Using a personal experience, although mine does not relate to BLM specifically, but I remember when I was in second grade and one of my peers did not speak English very well. I would read a book to him everyday to help him out. My point is, everyone deserves an education no matter what. No child should be discriminated against or deprived of learning.
That’s great that you want to teach your students to be respectful and caring to one another. I agree the BLM is about justice but it is also about educating our students about systemic racism in our society which gets carried into our education system. We have a duty to not ignore these topics but make time to have these discussion in our classrooms. It’s not always about letting people be who they want to be because POC have have always been here and unfortunately POC are still getting killed simply for existing. It’s about standing with our students and demanding change because honestly this system has always failed POC.
I’m a junior over at Penn State! I absolutely agree with your points made here. I think we need to ensure that our future students feel safe and secure within the classroom. What are some things that you’re going to implement within your own classroom to ensure your students are not discriminated against? In one of my classes at Penn State, we discussed how the solutions can be as simple as including posters in your classroom that depict multiple people of different ethnicities. As future educators, it is very important that we start thinking about the future and how to actively create a better classroom and curriculum for our future students.
I agree with you on the importance of teaching students to be accepting and respectful of others who may be different from themselves. I believe teaching students that at a young age will create a more loving community and create a safe environment in the classroom. Getting to know your student’s interest and backgrounds and bringing that into the curriculum is a great place to start. Providing lessons that incorporate various interests and backgrounds of student’s shows differences and similarities between them. They can see that they have things in common with people and create relationships as well as respect the differences they may have.
I definitely agree with you and am thankful for your post! It’s true our young students are more vocal than ever and I don’t blame them, enough is enough. I think that for many years the African American community has stayed quiet because maybe they felt like no one would listen or out of fear, but as we have all seen these past few months and years the proof of what African Americans go through is there. In addition, I think that our youth is being more vocal and expressive than ever because of social media, these incidents pertaining to Black Lives Matter are all over social media, so our students are seeing these events happen right in front of their eyes. I believe that you being empathetic and teaching students to be accepting of others will impact everyone of your students and I truly believe that as teachers we should all aim to incorporate that into our profession as teachers. It shouldn’t take events like these for use to realize that society and our students are hurting, as teachers and as human beings we should all be accepting and respectful of others even if we don’t agree or have similar beliefs and views. I too can relate to about feeling invisible, however, I think I wanted to feel “invisible” because English isn’t my first language, so growing up in the United States not knowing the language is tough and then once you are able to speak, read, and write in English it’s not easy to do it out loud because your vocal chords aren’t used to the different sounds in comparison to the Spanish language. I was never the kid to volunteer to read or share my answer out loud in front of my class because my English had a Spanish accent, so that’s why I felt that I wanted to be invisible. Not because I was ashamed of my culture or background, but because young kids can lack that acceptance that we see nowadays in society. Moreover, I think that you wanting to help the Black Lives Matter cause and do something about it in your classroom is a great step and will help a lot of students because like you said “everyone deserves and education no matter what.”
Hi everyone! My name is Madison Wyatt. I am attending Austin Peay State University to major in early education with a concentration in K-5.
The questions that I chose was “What is the Black Lives Matter Movement and what role do you see it playing in schools? How do you see these principles guiding your teaching practices, if at all?”
The Black Lives Matter movement is based on the injustice towards the black communities. They are fighting for their voices to be heard and the right for proper justice the community deserves.
I see the 13 principles having an impact on teaching practices. Many black children are not treated fairly by the school system. Many black students are categorized as “the problem child” before they receive the benefit of the doubt that other students may have gotten. During an observation, I interviewed a teacher from a more rural school district. We spoke upon the topic of the treatment of black students and their experiences at that school. The teacher I talked with told me that an older colleague began discussing a student that was black. The information that she received was that the student was disobedient, problem-causing, and “nothing but trouble.” The teacher I spoke with began to explain to me that that was not the impressions they received from that student. The conclusion was that many older generation teachers (not all) are like this more towards black students than white students. We could write a book on why these types of behaviors are still going on, but it will NEVER make it acceptable.
We, as new upcoming teachers, can change the situations like that one. The 13 principles can be used as an eye-opening guide to not only improve yourself as a teacher but improve the lives and educational experiences of black children. I plan on utilizing these 13 principles in my teaching practices by incorporating as many as I can into it. It should also be a part of your teaching philosophy. Many of these principles are based on incredible things and I whole-heartedly believe these principles need to be incorporated into everyday life as well.
I would use empathy towards my students by making sure everyone is heard and to know that I utterly understand what is said to me. By incorporating this into your teaching, you are giving the children a safe and caring environment. Somewhere they know that no matter what is going on or what reasonings they have for something, you will make time to show them the kindness and understanding every student deserves. By putting yourself in their shoes and understanding what they are going through at that moment will not only help ease the pain of that student but will make them feel less alone.
Diversity. There are no two people alike in this world. As a teacher, you are supposed to inspire young minds and help students embrace themselves. You need to expand their minds to the differences that everyone around them has as well. Diversity is something that needs to be celebrated and in a classroom is where it should start, especially in lower-level classes. Children are watchers and absorb every little thing their minds can handle. By showing and teaching them to embrace their differences and to understand and respect everyone else’s will be one of the keys to making a change in this world.
Hello, everyone. My name is Danny, Strebar, and I am a senior secondary education student at the University of Nebraska, at Lincoln. Considering I am studying to become a teacher, I chose to research the first question, and explored the BLM at school website. To begin, I think it is important to talk about what the Black Lives Matter movement is, and what it means. Now, this meaning isn’t just a simple definition. BLM is part of the culture. It is part of our society. It is the amplified platform of our brothers, sisters, friends and neighbors whose voices have been suppressed. BLM is a platform that establishes and amplifies Black voices in the community and nation, but also allows other people to pick up the mantle, join the cause, and help these voices be heard.
As a white, male American, I know that I have an amount of privilege that allows me to say some things that others may need a platform to take a stand on. That provides a unique opportunity in our current age. It is up to me, and all my fellow white educators, to take a stand and use our privilege to amplify the voices of our Black communities around the country. With that being said, there is a huge role that BLM plays in schools, especially in Nebraska. Where there is injustice, BLM is trying to pave the way for true equality.
In the American education system, if you are not white, you are already at a disadvantage. I believe that when I am in my classroom, it is my job to be a figure of support and empowerment for whoever is in there. This means, that as a white male, I must show my support and give all my students a platform to discuss what they feel is going on in the nation, and world as a whole. BLM is a rallying cry to give the suppressed a voice. Everyone deserves a voice.
In regards to the 13 guiding principles highlighted, I think it is fair to say that it is disappointing that they are even considered debatable. I know that personally, I will be there for each and every one of my students, regardless of their race, religion, identity, etc. Especially in the age of social media, it is crucial that Black students especially know that I am supportive of their cause. While I will never understand what many of my students experience, I can do everything in my power to engage, affirm, and work towards empathy in my classroom. Again, as a white male, I have the privilege of not having that shared experience of having my voice suppressed, that does not mean, though, that I cannot tell my students I hear them, I support them, and that I will help make sure that their voices are amplified. There is no place for hate in America, and there is especially no place for hate in our school system. We are a community.
Hi Danny, I agree with you that as teachers we should be figures of support and empowerment for all of our students. We need to teach our students to be open-minded to the backgrounds and cultures of their fellow classmates and people they will encounter in their lives. I really liked that you said even though you haven’t had these experiences, you will still make sure your students know that you support them and that their voices are heard.
I hope you understand that just the fact that because you are White does not give you privilege, one has to have unearned power and influence. My concern when reading this is that when teaching on a topic such as this, you may make white students feel remorseful for the actions of their ancestors, just like history has made some African-Americans people feel. The goal should be for equality, this does not mean pulling some down like crabs in a bucket.
WRT to 13 guiding principles of BLM, imagine replacing the word “black” with “white”; here in the South, this has become the new a battle cry building more walls than breaking them down, image walking into a classroom seeing a teacher wearing a #12, “Unapologetically White” Shirt. What would your thoughts be? In public you can see these shirts [Unapologetically White and Unapologetically Black]; which flames the fire of racial hate.
Having lived in the Midwest myself, and now in the South, where the US Civil War (or war of Northern aggression); my point is history is told by the victors and not the defeated, but many Southerners are prideful of their heritage even though they lost to the conflict. So the bigger issue of tearing down monuments and renaming schools run deep into ones heritage, and people are pushing back against BLM because they are Unapologetically.
I feel politics (BLM is a political movement) and religion should not be addressed in schools (outside classes where that is the topic such as government); because too often do the teachers reflect their personal bias. When you say everyone deserves a voice, I hope you are going to give ALL sides that chance. Good luck navigating mine field.
Black Lives Matter means that we, as a society, must be made aware of the systematic racism that exists in this world, and that we should protest that until it is reduced to none, and nowhere is this more crucial than when looking at how black lives are significantly more in danger in situations in which other groups counterparts would not be, hence why we must remind every that Black Lives Matter. For the nature of making this a message that everyone needs to hear, educators must realize that Black Lives Matter plays a crucial role in classrooms. It is out responsibility to make this known. It is our task to be able to communicate to our students of all ages about these injustices, the unfairness, and the reasons why it needs to be changed. Furthermore, it is our responsibility to empower the black community within our classroom by amplifying their voices and experiences, one can do this by changing the sources of what classrooms usually have. Traditionally, classrooms all over USA are Eurocentric and many times anti-black. May that be from exclusions from History Books, to not being the authors of the novels student reads, this is all adding to the violence and racism against black people by molding students to see what is normal and what may be deemed as not normal. Students have to be presented to honest black dialogue, and be able to listen. Students have to receive proper representation in the material they read about black protagonist by black authors. We have the opportunity to empower our students, and inform others. Continuing, it is an opportunity to teach of compassion, and action. It is the opportunity to make social changes by allowing students to know the reality, make their own decisions, and make them realize the power they have to make a difference. These conversations have their place in a classroom and should be a principle part of them.
The Black Lives Matter Movement is a social movement that advocates against police brutality and racially motivated violence against black people. The BLM at school organization seeks to work towards freedom and justice for Black people. They believe that all Black Lives matter “regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status or location” (www.blacklivesmatteratschool.com). More importantly, the organization believes in the notion of being “unapologetically Black.” Meaning that, a Black person does not need to prove their worth to get recognition and validation for wanting equal rights. One of the principles that stood out to me the most was practicing empathy and teaching students to learn to listen to others. I think part of our responsibility as educators, is teaching students to be compassionate human beings. We need to teach students how to care about problems that don’t affect them directly and help them become activists against social injustices. This also means teaching students to acknowledge the struggles of others and refrain from judging situations with their own biases.
Teaching for Black lives means creating a classroom environment that supports resistance against white supremacy and anti-blackness. It includes refraining from looking at students through hurtful racial preconceptions, eliminating racist practices in themselves and those around them, and standing up for Black students in ways that make them feel strong and proud. Teaching for Black lives also includes encouraging Black students to be themselves and be proud of who they are and what they can become. This is essentail for me as a teacher because it emphasizes the importance of learning about my students. Instead of putting students into boxes of racial stereotypes, educators need to acknowledge that every student has unique life experiences that make them who they are. We need to build on Black students’ contributions and funds of knowledge and incorporate them into the curriculum. As an educator, it is also very important to learn about the history of Black lives, not just that which was taught in our education, and take the initiative to do research to educate ourselves on the social injustices the Black community continues to experience.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi. My name is Maurice, and I am a graduate student at APSU
Question: What is the Black Lives Matter Movement and what role do you see it playing in schools? How do you see these principles guiding your teaching practices, if at all?
Black Lives Matter is a movement which started in 2013 after the release of Travon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman. The movement’s goal is to protect black communities and prevent white supremacy. Since then the movement has spread throughout the country and beyond, intent on ensuring equality for minorities. Ensuring equality for black citizens and protecting black communities is a noble cause. In school, discussions about peaceful protests being protected by the first amendment of the constitution can be productive. However, the instigation of violence, damaging personal and government property and putting innocent civilians and police in danger is something very different. It is important to convey involvement in this type of activism diminishes the credibility of any movement and hard discussions like this are necessary to educate students. Young minds are very impressionable, and education is the key making positive changes. Young students will one day be the leaders of our country. They have grown up in a much more integrated society than their predecessors and it is important that they learn how to communicate effectively to influence positive multicultural acceptance. Education can help prevent young people becoming engulfed in mob mentality and subsequently preventing their proximity to troubling and sometimes dangerous situations.
The Black Lives Matter at School is a movement which started in Seattle in 2016 with thousands of educators, children and families coming to school wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts with slogans that also brought attention to violence against women. This movement spread to other big cities where thousands more educators became involved in advocating for and teaching about social justice for black citizens.
The 13 Guiding Principles of the Black Lives Matter movement which are outlined on the Black Lives Matter in School website revolve around ideas of social justice for blacks, embracing diversity among black people and advocating for black communities. The principles also include language which supports peacefully embracing others but is primarily focused on the black community.
Teachers should embrace each student as individuals among their class of peers. Knowing individual students is one of the most important aspects of being a teacher! One should be able to find unique ways to connect with all students by embracing a diverse population, finding unique material that connects with students and allowing individuals to express themselves. Doing this will lead to higher student involvement. Being a good person who cares about every individual student’s educational, physical, and social wellbeing is another important aspect of being a teacher. If a teacher shows the students and their families this is a top priority, one will be adhering to similar priorities as the 13 guiding principles on the Black Lives Matter in School website.
Question: What does it mean to teach for Black lives? Discuss the most important issues raised in this webinar; how, if at all, are they useful to your future/current classroom strategies or routines?
After watching the Teaching for Black Lives video, I found a few things that stood out.
First, the excerpt from a letter to her son read by Dyan Watson discussing her experience in school is a particularly good opener to the video and the subject. She describes feeling different/invisible in school and conveys some of the struggles she experienced because of her minority status. She conveys her hopes for teachers to embrace black students, while understanding they come from good loving families. This is a heartfelt letter from a mother who hopes to watch her son have a positive experience in school and a positive future. I think many can relate to this story, regardless of race.
Another notable point in the video is the conversation about allowing students to discuss black issues in the classroom. These issues are so prominent in society, instead of shying away from the perceived controversial subject, teachers should embrace these opportunities to create productive and educational forums. This point led one speaker to convey this is an opportunity to change the normal school narratives from looking at black people through the lens of a history of slavery and pity, to a new narrative where blacks are treated as equals with inspiring stories for students to relate.
Perhaps the most important point made, is the need for teachers to build relationships with their black students. It is important for teachers to look for ways to understand students and motivate them to learn and express themselves in positive ways. The same can be said about learning about students’ families and the community. The more a teacher relates to a student and conveys their desire to see them succeed the more they will see positive outcomes and build relationships with families and in the school community.
Question: How can we reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth?
Johnson et al (2017) convey that “the bullet of rejection, the bullet of silencing, and the bullet of disrespect” oppress black youth and oppresses their ability to thrive in an educational environment. If one agrees with this idea, reimagining classrooms requires change.
Teachers must eliminate discrimination of black youth in school by embracing their presence in the school setting. Teachers must allow black students to speak their mind, eliminate silence of the perceived taboo topics of racial injustice by making these into productive and educational conversations. Educational settings should be respectful to student’s history and create an environment of pride in black student history by finding relatable topics and material that enable black students to understand their equal opportunity among other races in school.
Above all black students need to feel like the teachers they see everyday care for them. Teachers can show this by building relevant relationships with their students and developing curriculum that embraces who they are, allows them to express themselves and enables them to feel proud of who they are. This will enable a positive education and a positive future for black youth.
Johnson, L. Jackson, J. Stovall, D. & Baszile, D (2017). Loving Blackness to Death”: (Re)Imagining ELA Classrooms in a Time of Racial Chaos. English Journal
Black Lives Matter at School (2020). 13 Guiding Principles, https://www.blacklivesmatteratschool.com/13-guiding-principles.html
Rethinking Schools (2020). Teaching for Black Lives During the Rebellion. [Video]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X58lqaojG34&feature=youtu.be
My name is Nathan Wilkerson. I am a junior History Education Major at Austin Peay State University.
Black Lives Matter is an organization that is committed to ensuring social justice in society and in the classroom for Black People. According to their website, BLM at school is committed to restorative justice for Black Students and in turn all students. They are committed to ensuring that the classroom is safe and affirming to all students regardless of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. I agree with many of the 13 principles espoused through BLM at school’s website, in that I believe that the classroom must be a safe environment free from micro-aggressions towards minority students of all backgrounds – racially, relgiously, sexually, etc. However, I disagree with them on what is the best way to get there. Point eleven, for instance, I agree that students need to feel affirmed whether they are from a two parent traditional nuclear family or not, but what exactly do they mean by “We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure?” Are they saying that they envision a day when the nuclear family is no more? Much research has been conducted that affirms the nuclear family in regards to the well-being of a child.
In addition, the article on “Loving Blackness to Death” implies that teaching tradition English language rules and insisting on their practice in the classroom is essentially racist. I agree that teachers and students alike, especially white students, need to learn a different vocabulary in order to provide a safer and more affirming environment for students of all races and backgrounds. For instance, I agree that we should avoid using the black and white analogies when describing something that is right or wrong. However, English has become the international language of business, therefore it will be to all students’ advantage to learn to properly speak English and articulate oneself in order to succeed and escape the endless cycle of poverty that has become many of our inner cities.
Overall, I see the need to ensure a safe and positive learning environment for all students, especially students of color. I believe though that there should be certain standards that are taught and enforced within the classroom especially if it will prepare the student for something that will be beneficial when they are no longer in the classroom.
In regards to the “Loving Blackness to Death” article, there are some norms in education that are beneficial to specific groups of people and some times it might be difficult for people to notice these differences. It is extremely important for teachers to be aware and try to make sure all students are able to be successful no matter how they identify. Yes it is important to teach English but not all students are going to learn the same way. Instead it is better to differentiate teaching to students. Read the room and find out what the students love and use that to promote education. The goal is to make education meaningful to all the students and not forcing one way of learning onto all students. Also to make sure we do not get rid of any identity the students come from. For instance if students speak a different language at home, they should be encouraged to continue using both languages.
Hi everyone! My name is Darla and I am a graduate student at Framingham State University in Massachusetts seeking a Masters in Secondary Education with a concentration in English.
I really loved the conversation surrounding the third question. Aside from what they explicitly discussed in the webinar, I found the language used to be really critical. For example, the use of the word rebellion is really important. The word demands attention and explicitly implies that there is something to rebel against, which there genuinely is. A few times they also used rhythm and resistance in the same breath. I think the use of rhythm is compelling. It has a more positive and melodic connotation, which I think brings a little positivity when paired with resistance. I think it also implies routine and repetition. This is a prolonged journey. Finally, Cierra discusses how she creates productive spaces and she does an ice breaker activity, but she uses the Zulu word Ubuntu instead. This inclusion of an African language really transforms the activity. By changing the language, she celebrates African culture and brings the customs into her classroom in a productive way. Additionally, the term speaks to the collective. I really appreciated the inclusion of another language and also how this other language’s word adds another layer of community to the classroom.
As far as re-imagining the classroom, I really enjoyed Wayne’s comments about assessment and testing. He describes these as points of entry to police our students, specifically our students of color. I have always struggled against assessment and homework and other measurements of understanding. Rethinking what learning really is and what we want to be learned will totally revolutionize our classrooms and allow us to bring content to the students in accessible and equitable ways. My class, and my teacher will see this, talks a lot about essential questions. I think these relate to Jesse’s call for difficult conversations and how to get there we need to first build a sense of community by getting to know our students and celebrating them as human beings. This reworking of how we measure understanding, related to Wayne’s and Jesse’s comments, seems useful for disrupting racism. How we have conversations and how we assess knowledge are accessible places for educators to start and continue anti-racist work. Finally, Dyan’s comments about how black history is taught and the problems with considering all black people as victims was really thought provoking. She is right! Black history begins with slavery in our textbooks, and teaching the history in that way is pretty destructive. There is so much more to black history and life, and centering that history around them needing to be saved really sets us up to view the history in a counterproductive way.
Hello, my name is Mackenzie McDonald and I am a Junior at APSU in Clarksville, TN. I am a K-8 Sped major and I hope to one day teach in an elementary school here in town.
Question: What is the Black Lives Matter Movement and what role do you see it playing in schools? How do you see these principles guiding your teaching practices, if at all?
The black lives matter movement is a response to the systematic racism in America and across the world. I expect to see this movement begin to play larger and larger roles within schools. The United States education system is struggling at best and completely failing its minority students at worst. I believe that the BLM movement will eventually hold enough societal power to completely change how our current education system works. Because the movement addresses more than just black lives, including things such as poverty, LGBTQ+ issues, and Women’s issues, these are all getting more attention than ever.
As far as using these principles to guide my teaching practices, I absolutely plan on using them. I am a white female that grew up in an upper middle class home. While I am a member of the LGBT+ community, I can easily pass as heterosexual as well. All of these things give me immense privilege. Part of acknowledging that privilege is being able to defend and protect those with less. I want my classroom to be a safe space for every student no matter their race, sexuality, nationality, etc. The guiding principles of the BLM movement are all put into place to be inclusive and protective and I will do everything in my power to adhere to those practices.
Question: What does it mean to teach for Black lives? Discuss the most important issues raised in this webinar; how, if at all, are they useful to your future/current classroom strategies or routines?
To teach for black lives means to teach in a way that not only values black lives, but also in a way that highlights all of the beautiful aspects of black lives. I would say one of the most important issues raised in the webinar was explained in the situation of the elementary school receiving bomb threats for hosting a BLM event. That kind of absurd, horrid response highlights just how much racism still lies within American society. The highlighting of this issue is something that I will definitely carry with me into the classroom. To teach a child, you have to understand them, and to understand them you have to acknowledge not only what they go through, but what they see people like them go through. That fear, the fear of a bomb threat on an elementary school is not just scary for that one school, it’s scary to everyone who could see that happening to themselves. Sticking up for yourself, demanding equality, being encouraging… none of these things should lead to someone’s life being threatened. Being aware of all of those things will help me as a teacher in that I will be more sensitive to microaggressions and I will make an effort when there is a traumatic event in the news to help my students process that trauma and have sold discussions on what they can do to positively impact others.
Question: How can we reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth?
The classroom is where change happens. If all people are taught the same thing the same way in every generation, people become complacent. That is exactly what is happening in the United States today. Many public schools follow the same, basic, whitewashed reading lists and are throwing away any possibility to encourage cultural education. As the article said, we need to change how ELA classrooms run in order to encourage and motivate more black students. We need to introduce more diverse literature and stop falling into the idea that Shakespeare is the only notable historical writer. We need to find the literature that is written by and for people of color and incorporate discussions that humanize and normalize that type of literature. Additionally, things need to change in history classrooms. There are SO many notable black historical figures that never even get mentioned in history class. With both of these changes I think it is really important to mention that this will not only benefit the black kids. The white kids that hold biases, or have parents who hold biases will also be exposed to these things. This will force the normalization of blackness across multiple subjects of their lives and hopefully encourage them to become anti-racist.
Classroom spaces can be reimagined to disrupt racial injustice by emphasizing culturally responsive pedagogy. As discussed in the article “Loving Blackness to Death,” there are metaphorical bullets that are used by teachers to undermine African American students in their classrooms. Leading our classrooms using culturally responsive pedagogy will address these metaphorical bullets and will embrace all students of color. Culturally responsive pedagogy can also help with African American student language. As stated in the article, African American students are forced to “adopt the language of the oppressor.” Instead of forcing students to assimilate to white culture and white language, teachers should embrace diversity in their classrooms. Another aspect of culturally responsive pedagogy involves bringing in African American literature in our classrooms instead of focusing on Eurocentric literature. Sadly the literature that current schools focus on is the slavery perspective. Although slavery is an important part of our history that all students should learn about, there are more positive perspectives that can be taught regarding African Americans in US History.
Hello, my name is Kylee.
Teaching for Black lives means creating a safe and comfortable space for Black students to learn and grow. Understanding the injustice, the Black community have faced, and are still facing to this day, and supporting these students. While also listening to students and acting on their concerns. In the webinar Jesse (a panelist) mentions how a lot of Black youth have voiced that they want police removed from their schools. And now some schools are taking the steps to remove police presence on school grounds. He also goes on to say how “[he] thinks for too long, too many educators have been scared to bring in these difficult discussions about police violence and about institutional racism [in the classroom].” Teachers have the power to scaffold the discussion for students and help them make sense of what is going on in the world and provide a learning opportunity where its needed. But as teachers we also need to introduce Black stories and Black voices into the classroom to provide a balance.
We can reimagine our classrooms by humanizing Black lives and providing a safe and comfortable space for Black students. A space where we can celebrate everyone’s differences. And by making a promise to myself to continue educating myself on racial issues and never stop working towards justice for my Black students. In the future I will be teaching in a math classroom and I want to make sure my Black students feel included in the class, curriculum, and within the STEM field. Every so often I want to highlight either a past or present Black professional in my classroom. Where we can talk about what this person does/did in the STEM field and the education to get there. Helping to make sure Black students feel represented within the math classroom and within the STEM field.
Hello Kylee! I totally agree with you that teaching for Black Lives means that our classrooms should be a space in which our Black students feel safe and comfortable. Not only that, but a space in which their voices matter and they are encouraged to grow, learn, and express their thoughts. In addition, I agree that teaching for Black Lives means understanding the struggles of our Black students and providing the support and resources that they need. It also means teaching ALL of our students about the injustices that the Black Community has been facing so that they understand what it is to be an African American in the U.S. I believe, as you mentioned, that teachers have the power to scaffold the discussions for students, so we should be using this power to help our students understand what is happening in our society and to help them learn the importance of respecting each other.
I like your approach to create a classroom space where Black students feel comfortable and empowered. I will be teaching mathematics as well and I feel it is very important that our Black students feel represented within the math classroom, but also in the STEM field. Often, we give credit for the mathematics only to those male mathematicians from Europe, forgetting about the contributions of African American or other minority mathematicians. I like your idea of highlighting the contributions of the Black community to the STEM field so that our students feel empowered to pursue a career within those fields of education.
Thank you for sharing and good luck on your future career!
As an aspiring teacher looking to student teach in the next couple of months, it is absolutely saddening to hear about racial injustice for black youths in the classroom. The awful stories Jesse mentioned from the YouTube vlog Teaching for Black Lives During the Rebellion really helped me think and reflect in the lens of our black youths facing discriminatory actions in today’s society. The obnoxious school policies mentioned in the video where reopening schools are not mandating masks but policing black student’s dress code and the new Zoom rule where students must maintain eye contact with the camera all times, are small examples that contrasts to the teaching values I was taught in the past year in teaching credential courses. Every student brings in different cultural values, and we educators must not assume or have biased opinions against students just by their physical attributes. Jesse from the vlog articulates a powerful statement in which he said, “We must hummanize our lessons.We do that by building relationships with the students, and having the students know that we care for them.” To add onto his statement, we should steer away from punishing and policing our students, but look to understand where they are coming from culturally and emotionally, and focus on making student-teacher relationships, which will help build culturally relevant connections.
In the article ‘Loving Blackness to Death” (Re)Imagining ELA Classrooms in a Time of Racial Chaos’, it talks about Symbolic violence, where black youths are depicted as a negative force in the society and in classrooms. Just because a student has a black ethnicity, they are being treated unfairly and destructively. This goes completely against Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Social Emotional Learning theories learned from my courses. Educators should be free of biased opinions of a certain ethnic group of students, and must look to find the asset and the positives student brings into the classroom. The article further elaborates about Symbolic violence,“Symbolic violence is the cornerstone of the physical violence that plagues US society. Within the context of P-20 classrooms, symbolic violence is an attack on the humanity of Black students. We, the authors, know all too well the stereotypical language and ideologies that lead to the unjust murders of Black youth. At the same time that we believe Black youths’ physical deaths are preceded by depictions of them as thugs, criminals, uneducable, and subhuman, we also believe this symbolic form of violence transpires in classrooms where educators hold dehumanizing assumptions about the history, culture, and language of Black youth.” (Johnson, Jackson, Stovall, and Baszile, p.60-61). My heart sank when I heard stories from the vlog that a 15 year old student went to the juvenile center for not doing her homework, and another black student being arrested for having a temper tantrum. What is going on with the education system? Punishment is not the key to success for our students, it is sincere care and proper scaffolding by the educator to see the positives in students, and it is our job as an only adult figure in the classroom to guide our students to the proper direction, not destroy their paths.
What does it mean to teach for Black lives? Discuss the most important issues raised in this webinar; how, if at all, are they useful to your future/current classroom strategies or routines?
According to the webinar, teaching for Black lives means many things. First, as one of the speakers expressed, “Teaching for Black lives means that all Black people face institutional racism in this country, but there is no singular experience.” That means that as a teacher, I must acknowledge the institutional racism that Black folks face but also recognize that I must get to know my Black students as individuals. Another important concept from the webinar was this question: “How do we teach for Black lives in a way that doesn’t demoralize and retraumatize but instead empowers?” I agree that oftentimes the United States educational curriculum portrays Black people as victims; a key point that one of the speaker made is that we need to talk more about Black resistance – from revolts against slavery and contributions to resistance and liberatory movements throughout history. Finally, the speakers in the webinar stated that we educators often view Black students through a deficit model, considering them to be “behind” their white peers. Instead, we need to understand and leverage Black students’ strengths, center Blackness in the classroom, and affirm the brilliance of Blackness.
This webinar was an important reminder for me that there is no singular Black experience. Thus, I will need to get to know my Black student’s on the individual level. Regarding the question, “How do we teach for Black lives in a way that doesn’t demoralize and retraumatize but instead empowers?”, I will make sure that I include the writings of Black authors in my English Language Arts curriculum in an empowering way. I will make it a point to include videos and writings that show Black individuals as agents of change, not victims. I will make sure not to view Black students through a deficit model and instead get to know their strengths and uplift them. Additionally, the speakers talked about contemporary Black artists Janelle Monáe, Erykah Badu, and India Arie; I think that I will try to incorporate these artists into my classroom – whether by playing their music during downtime in class and / or incorporating their lyrics into a unit about songwriting.
How can we reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth?
In the article “ ‘Loving Blackness to Death’: (Re) Imagining ELA Classrooms in a time of Racial Chaos’”, Johnson et al. describe the violence imposed on Black youth. The authors connect deficit-oriented and pathologizing ideologies that society has about Black youth to the classroom, stating, “We, the authors, know all too well the stereotypical language and ideologies that lead to unjust murders of Black youth… we also believe this symbolic form of violence transpires in classrooms where educators hold dehumanization assumptions about the history, culture, and language of Black youth” (61). They assert that this form of violence in the classroom includes centering Western texts and ideologies at the expense of Black youth, incorporating texts about Black youth that paints Blackness about monolithic, and marginalizing Black students’ culture, literacies, and lived experiences (62).
Johnson et al. assert that to disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth, English Language Arts classrooms “must become revolutionary sites for racial justice by shedding light on Black lives and creating classrooms where Black youth are empowered through Black literacies and tools that uplift and support the humanity of Black people “ (62). Additionally, the authors advocate for the use of critical race English education, which “explicitly addresses issues of race, racism, whiteness, white supremacy, and anti-blackness within school and out-of-school spaces. It also seeks to dismantle dominant texts… while also highlighting how language and literacy can be used as tools to uplifted and transform the lives of people who are often on the margins in society and P-20 spaces (Johnson)” (63).
Thus, in my own English Language Arts classroom, I will make sure I center Black lives, incorporate Black literacies, and teaching utilizing the critical race English education framework.
I loved reading your response, and your gains from the webinar that was just so powerful. I especially thought an important quote from your post was when you stated, “This webinar was an important reminder for me that there is no singular Black experience.” Especially for me, as a white male, the last thing I would want to do is make assumptions about my students. No matter what, we want to make sure that our students feel comfortable, feel heard, and feel like they matter. In English class, this can be a much more direct relationship than with that of the STEM classroom. In some instances, we have the power to either pick the books we are teaching, or at least have powerful supplementary and bridging texts to make sure that there is a multicultural perspective. It is so important for students to be able to relate to the material in some respect. As a white male, I took this for granted my whole time as a student before college. I didn’t even think about the race of an author, and that privilege alone should be telling. You addressed this very eloquently, in my opinion, with your talk of making sure that Black authors have a place in the curriculum. Their words are just as powerful, if not more so than some texts, and we, as educators, should welcome a world view that supports our students, and their ability to think critically about the world around them. Again, thanks for the awesome post!
My name is Haley Dahlgaard and I’m currently a senior at University of Nebraska – Lincoln and I am seeking to be an ELA or ELL teacher in the future. This semester I am doing a practicum in an ELL classroom at the middle school level.
I found the webinar regarding the novel “Teaching for Black Lives” was a very timely and intriguing discussion. If a teacher’s goal is to have full inclusion of all of their students, then that teacher needs to teach FOR black lives. The editors discussed how this is very much a unifying, community-building pedagogical approach from the teacher’s role. Not all of our black students have the same story/experience, so why do we teach about race only when it’s necessary or timely? That means teaching systemic racism not only when another horrific murder happens, but for the people who have ongoing experiences of systemic racism day to day. To have a completely humanizing approach in our curriculum, we need to include more stories and more history about black people and the importance that they have had in our world. We do not solely teach ways that they were victimized or how they need help…but rather stories about empowerment. How does your classroom canon look? Mine could certainly use some improvement. (Being that all of my current students are minority groups and have very little representation in standard ELL curriculum – needs a heavy update!)
Some people may see bringing up the BLM movement in a classroom as political, but I liked how Jesse, one of the editors of the book, argued that barring these discussions of race/racism in class is also a form of politicizing the classroom. As my professor says, every choice we make as teachers is political. The way we choose to have these discussions in class could be of utmost importance to many of our students. Students and young people are the ones leading these current movements, and therefore are the ones teaching us. We should learn to include their voices more in our classrooms.
Thank you Haley for your comments. I agree with you that the classroom needs to become a place where we can discuss difficult topics pertaining to race in a civilized manner. I believe that healthy interaction and discussions are sadly missing from the political discourse today. People would rather take stand on opposite sides of the room yelling at one another than to meet in the middle and try and find common ground and really understand what others who are not like them are thinking and going through.
I believe that we often inadvertently do harm to students of color with our language and pedagogical approaches. I also liked what you pointed out that not all black students are the same or have the same experiences. This is why it is so necessary to take a relational approach to teaching and take the necessary time to get to know all of our students. Then we will become better educators if educating students is truly our goal and not just spoon feeding them answers to another standardized test.
Hello, I am Jose from Cal State Long Beach,
After watching the webinar I really enjoyed and took in what Dyan Watson said about students learning about Black lives. They did not start with slavery, they were people before that. This first time students start learning about African-Americans is during slavery. They are seen as people to be helped and it shows they cannot be human. Students should see themselves as equals and members of society first and not a community of victims. I have been watching videos about how the education we get growing up portrayed Black people as victims and how we saw them as slaves first. I do think this is an important topic everyone must learn, but I do think we can start off with empowerment of Black lives as we do with others. I also like how she said this is for all classes, not just classes with Black Students. Everyone should start learning about Black lives as equals and use literature that helps promote everyone.
As a future Physical Educator, my teaching of Black Lives will be different but similar to history. My job as a physical educator is to get students physically literate. I also have the opportunity to give knowledge to my students about nutrition, history of sports, and facilities in the area that are available to them. If my philosophy is sports education, I do not have to start with the beginning of sports, but can talk about the current athletes today and how powerful they are in sports and the nation (Lebron James). They have influences that started from Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (plus many more). Having the knowledge of what you are doing and knowing the history of the sports will allow students to see that athletes never stopped fighting for Black rights and have the influence to help educate others.
I also believe the Black Lives Matter movement does belong in school. It is important for teachers to understand the movement and embrace it. Black culture is global and across the nation. We cannot hide behind something and pretend we don’t see it. Black Lives Matter is fighting for equality and justice. The principles align with what I believe in. I am a Latinx man, a person of color who can understand what the Black Lives Matter is fighting for. The principles are something I can learn more about and teach my students.
I definitely agree with your post and truly believe that the Black Lives Matter movement should be taught in all classes not just classes with Black Students. If we only teach and focus our attention on classes with Black students than we are missing the point, our goal as teachers should be to teach students to be accepting and supportive of others. I think as humans we often forget that it is okay for other people to not be like us or to think like us, as humans we often forget to be accepting of others. As teachers we have a responsibility to teach our content, but we also have a responsibility of teaching young students to be “decent” human beings and to help them to be better than when they first came into our classroom. I really enjoyed reading about how you will incorporate the Black Lives Matter movement in your classroom. As future educators, I think that it is important to “understand the movement and embrace it” like you said, because these are events that our students are experiencing. As sad as this sounds I think that it may take a few years for things to change and for the African American community to see the equality and justice that they are fighting for, but I think that both you and I as educators can help by supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and teaching our students to be accepting of others. One thing that I plan to do in my classroom is to have team building activities that highlight people of all backgrounds because yes the Black Lives Matter movement focuses on African Americans, but we all know that they are not the only minority in this country that are fighting for equality and justice. As teachers we can’t choose the students that we teach and where they come from, but we can be accepting and empathetic towards them and teach them to be accepting and empathetic towards others.
I like the fact that you are wanting to talk about past black sports figures, but Jim Brown (football), Muhammad Ali (boxing), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (basketball) are figures that push the stereotype of blacks going to school for physical sports (think of the William Sisters or Tiger woods). Secondly, I think someone like James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens who, at the risk of his own life, won gold in the 1936 Olympics. There are countless other black people, (don’t limit it to African-Americans) have push peacefully for the world to take notice. As an educator, why not talk about the STEM side of nutrition and history of sports; or pick sports such as gold, tennis, or shooting where blacks have gained notable success.
Thanks for the reply. I agree with other options I can choose from from all sports. I do feel depending on the area and what sports or activities are available will be the discussion topics I will choose. There is not a lot of shooting where I am from, but do feel I should learn about that sport as well. I also do think talking about great leaders in the nutrition and sports science field is a good way to show students there are different ways to affect this subject.
My name is Christina Riches, and I am a graduate student at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee. The Black Lives Matter movement is a commitment to “collectively, lovingly, and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people” (www.blacklivesmatteratschool.com).
The question I chose was, “How can we reimagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of Black youth?”
The classroom needs to be a space that does not promote white supremacy or anti-blackness. This can happen by bringing in curriculum that stems from knowledge, ideas, and experiences from Black authors and members of the community. During the webinar, someone spoke about the importance of seeing Blacks as more than victims in American history. The first time Blacks are introduced is in slavery and there isn’t a focus on the power of Blacks as they fought against being enslaved.
Teachers should make the effort to not look at students and stereotype them or make assumptions about them. It is important to remember each person is different and has unique life experiences that drive them. I truly believe the most important thing a teacher can do for a student is get to know them. This allows teachers to understand the “why” behind students’ actions. I also think it is important to encourage Black students to embrace who they are. Classrooms should be safe places for Black students to be themselves and have respectful conversations and interactions amongst their peers.
Hi Christina! My name is Hattie Roberts, and I am an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. What are you studying? I am studying English Secondary Education. I loved reading your post because it is all about teachers making an effort. When teachers make an effort to abolish stereotypes, students will begin to follow. Your final paragraph reminds me of the idea of dominant cultural narratives. We shouldn’t assume anything about anyone because we are all different based on our experiences, opinions, and backgrounds. This mistake is often made, and people do not even realize that they are stereotyping. This was a really interesting and beneficial point! To conclude, your statement about classrooms being a safe place for black students to be who they are is absolutely right. In my opinion, a classroom without safety isn’t a classroom at all. It was great reading your comments!
Christina, I completely agree that our classrooms need to be a place of uplift for our Black students, and personally, I believe that a lot of this falls on us as individual teachers. It isn’t our black students’ job to educate us on their history or their experiences; we should be doing this research ourselves in order to make these students feel as if they have a voice in the classroom. This is also where the concept of unconscious bias comes into play; we must evaluate how we run our classrooms and make sure that we are treating every student with fairness and the same level of compassion. It made me sad to think about the fact the first depiction of Black people in our classrooms is through slavery. Like I mentioned before, there is SO much more history before corrupt colonizers took over, and I think we should be celebrating their achievements beforehand, so I completely agree with you. I believe that facilitating thoughtful conversations about race with our students and allowing our Black students to voice their opinions/concerns is vital for making our classrooms a safe place. By taking away those assumptions we might make, we are able to get to really know them beyond superficial facts of a person’s being. I think that allowing our students to embrace themselves in every capacity will get them much farther in life than trying to put them in any sort of mold.
The Black Lives Matter Movement is a way for people to come together and live their lives with equality. The movement is supported by people of all races and ethnicities in pursuit of finding not only equal rights, but equal treatment for everyone, regardless of race. BLM’s mission is for black people to be treated the same way that white people are. I think that understanding which elements of the Black Lives Matter Movement are more susceptible to hate is an important practice to incorporate into teaching. This is important because, as a future educator, I can look for signs of oppression in the classroom and around the school instead of being ignorant about it. The Queer Affirming and Trans Affirming principles addressed these areas as being heavily affected by societal viewpoints in a very negative way. By having this knowledge and awareness, I can seek to protect my students who are being oppressed because of their minority identities, as well as educate my students who are actively carrying out the oppression. It is important for students to be aware of the heteronormative perspective that society forces upon us, and this is why oppression for black queer and black trans lives is so heavy.
The fourth principle states, “We are committed to acknowledging, respecting, and celebrating difference(s) and commonalities.” This statement currently guides my teaching practices and always will. Difference is what allows us to learn from each other, and commonality is what brings us together, building community. When diversity and similarity are seen as positives, the classroom and the world will become a more educated and accepting place.
Hello, my name is Emily Chandler. I’m addressing two key questions. First, “What is the Black Lives Matter movement, and what roles do you see it playing in schools?” Also, “How can we re-imagine our classrooms as spaces that disrupt racial injustice, transforms the world, and humanize the lives of black youth?”
Black Lives Matter is an American-based organization that seeks to establish racial equality and thereby improve the day-to-day lives of blacks. Although BLM as a group is polarizing, the simple message that black lives do matter is one that needs to be heard and embraced. Let’s be honest. This message is so important because it feels as though the system doesn’t value black lives. While the federal government spends ridiculous amounts of money funding foreign wars and military bases, inner-city students and teachers are left to suffer in underfunded crumbling school districts. It’s high time these students and teachers raise a demanding voice. Underprivileged black students are bound to feel empowered by the national conversation surrounding them. As teachers, I believe we can contribute to this conversation. We need to internalize the reality that black students and school districts are often treated very differently than those with a white-majority.
When it comes to our ELA classrooms, we can adjust to be more welcoming to black students. We can incorporate more reading materials that celebrate the contributions of blacks. Some suggest that teachers view the native language AAL as an acceptable form of speech. I do believe AAL should be embraced as a cultural marker rather than viewed as a lack of education. However, I do not feel that AAL should replace ELA for black students. That would ultimately disadvantage black students. Changing attitudes that stigmatize black students is a crucial step towards creating a more equitable classroom.
I believe in my ability as a teacher to move a classroom closer to racial equity while acknowledging my own limited experience. I never attend school, public or private. I was homeschooled until attending a community college. My experience with homeschooling may be unique, but my feeling of being inferior to those around me isn’t. If we embrace the beauty and uniqueness of black students, they are better equipped to stand up for themselves as well as others. That is how the Black Lives Matter movement began; by empowered voices speaking truth to power.
HI Emily! My name is Fabi. I am in the single subject teaching credential program and my content area is art.
I couldn’t agree more! Black lives do matter, and they just want their voices to be heard. As educators, we have to use our power to acknowledge that black lives are treated differently and we must create ways to empower them. We are the gatekeepers of the school and we need to help all students in the classroom understand these differences. As you mentioned, the system does not value diversity the way they should. It is important to recognize that it is up to us to form an action plan so that we, as teachers, can create a safe and comfortable space for all students. These conversations could be brought to a classroom by incorporating the Black Lives Movement through a lesson, activity, or within other strategies that help all students understand how these basic human rights aren’t being met in society today.
Hi guys! My name is Sara Koski and I am an English student at Austin Peay State University. Black Lives Matter is a human rights movement that is fighting for the end of violence, police brutality, and injustices on black lives. First, we must acknowledge what is all around us. As a white woman, I have not faced racial discrimination; therefore, I, or anyone who is not African-American, can tell someone of color how they should feel or what is real to them. We have to acknowledge the ugly truth that racism is alive and never died. As teachers, this is vital. We have to hear black voices and lift them. We have the power as educators to provide our students with the tools to rise above the broken system, to instill change, and to believe in their own greatness. I advise any future or current teacher to instill BLM principles in school because we are growing the next generation. We have to give them the resources, the courage, and the support to show that Black Lives really do matter.
I appreciate that you acknowledge the position that we hold as teachers and where we stand in the face of racial injustice. I would like to hear more about how you will lift black voices, provide your students the power to fight for and instill change, and how you will use BLM principles in your classroom. While acknowledgement and knowing the direction to take is great, as educators, we must also have a plan. Without ever working on these values, how can we expect ourselves to empower our students and end racial injustice? It is because we are educators that we cannot be one of the people who post a one-time #BLM post on Instagram and call it a day. We cannot just attend a protest then end it there. We have more responsibilities than the average voter in this movement. It’s our way of teaching and what we teach that will make the difference. So, I challenge you to think of ways in which your classroom will follow your position on BLM.
As a future music educator, I think it is imperative that we learn why the Black Lives Movement is so important and how to teach in a classroom where these important movements can be incorporated to educate our students on what they are learning and also on what is happening in the world around them. In watching the webinar “Teaching For Black Lives During the Rebellion,” reading the article “Loving Blackness to Death,” and exploring the BLM at school webpage, I have personally learned so much more about the BLM movement and how to teach about it in schools.
We should all strive to teach culturally responsive pedagogy in our classrooms and incorporating BLM into our curriculum is just the same. No teacher should only cover the white perspective of black history because there is so much to the story than slavery. We as teachers should focus on ways to teach for black lives without demoralizing students but empowering them. We have a duty to stand with and beside our students and by teaching about the BLM movement in schools and how it is currently affecting our day to day lives, we have the power to support and educate all of our students. In reading the “13 Guiding Principles” on the BLM at school website, I felt empowered to cover more aspects of the BLM movement without missing some of the bigger concepts. The BLM movement gives us the ability to discuss what has been happing education for too long and through open discussions and using these principles to guide our curriculum, we can educate future generations about the importance of different culture and knowing the why of people’s stories before making false assumptions. We cannot look at black students with a deficit model, rather we should consider what makes them unique and use their skills as assets to better their education and not let these old stereotypes guide our beliefs. We should never police the bodies of our students and by empowering them to learn though an asset mindset, every student will get a better and a more rounded education. In general, we should use the principles of the BLM movement to guide our teaching practices to ensure that every student is getting the best education.
As a future music teacher these principles are all very important to me because I know that my music education very much focused on the white perspective and when other cultures tried to get incorporated, it was often the white perspective of other cultures. In reading the article “Loving Blackness to Death,” I was very inspired to do better than I have been given and one quote that was very powerful to me was, “As a piece of protest literature, Assata’s autobiography needs to be taught alongside the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, and slave narratives to help students and teachers learn the difference and similarities of how European and people of African descent conceptualize freedom, democracy, and rights.” (Johnson, Jackson, & Baszile, 64). Even though this quote is applicable to an ELA classroom, it inspired me to think about this in a context of a music classroom. The majority of “jazz” music I played in school was white renditions of black music and often there was only one concert a year that included this attempt at diversity. As I progress in my music education journey, I strive to incorporate accurate representations and culturally responsive representations of music, especially when it comes to discussing the BLM movement and how it affects music. So much of music was changed and shaped by black culture so I strive to incorporate the black perspective in my music curriculum and not just the white perspective of black music.
Hi Maria! I believe you have a very interesting perspective as a music teacher. I am no music expert, but there is so much depth and passion that goes into making music. We can learn a lot from black artists and music is a fantastic way of sharing stories, emotions, and experiences. I believe you will be really successful in incorporating more culturally diverse music into your lessons.
Regarding your remark on jazz music, I have had similar questions during my own schooling experience. We were taught in our history classes that the 20’s was the start of jazz from black people in cities such as New Orleans, and that this revolutionized music. However, we never particularly discussed the history or impact of it in my music or band classes, though my director did have a fond liking of Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong. I also remember some beginner jazz books having a “Latin Groove” section that we would rarely play from (to be fair, they were harder songs though). I think that though most of music history is focussed on old church music, it does little to show how modern jazz evolved from musical styles sung by Africans and that most of our popular music today stems from jazz roots.
While watching the Webinar, one thing that struck me was the deliberate usage of the words ‘rebellion’ and ‘resistance,’ and the repeated theme of ‘being in community with one another,’ language that I feel speaks to the severity and interconnectedness of the Black Lives Matter Movement – the movement is at its core, one centered on dismantling problematic notions of white supremacy. “Being in community with one another” is key here, as these notions are damaging not only to Black Lives, who have been dealt the greatest amounts of damage of the last 500 or so years of history, but also to other peoples. Other peoples of color find themselves also having to rise through the adversity of a white supremacist society, finding themselves in contention with minority groups that they should feel allyship to. I feel that white individuals themselves, find themselves in a non-enviable position of having to now, in this moment, confront their own privilege and worldview in ways that are at the very least uncomfortable, if not mentally draining. And so to me, with all that said, I think that the Black Lives Matter Movement is in simplest terms, a call for humanity to take a next step in its evolution, a step towards actually using our compassion and empathy to dismantle systemic oppression in a way that we haven’t yet seen before.
When it comes to pedagogy, I guess the question here is to ask, what even is the purpose of school? Is it to simply give ‘facts’ and academic skills? Or is it something greater? To me, the education system is our single greatest transformative tool for raising good, empathetic young people. With that said, I think the Black Lives Matter Movement is all about equity and empathy, and so it naturally becomes a guiding principle in raising good young people. We cannot shy away from the Movement, or the problematic Western history that ‘inspired’ it, if we are to raise young adults who are empathetic and able to question problematic things.
When discussing what it means to teach for Black Lives, I think a quote that struck me most from the webinar was around the 10:30 mark, as one of the speakers was reading to the group a letter that she wrote to her son, about what kinds of teachers she wanted. She said, “I hope that they’ll strive to know you, even if they think they already know you.” I think to me, the key element that this quote speaks to is one of constant reflection on our part as teachers. We need to bring with us into the classroom, a mindset of always being active in growing ourselves. There will always be more we can know about our students, there will always be more interesting lessons that we can show that lets them know we care and that they’re valued, and there will always be ways in which we can be more sensitive and empathetic ourselves. And so I think that if we as teachers bring with us this mindset, all the other actual strategies will fall into place. The webinar went through many important actual strategies that I resonated with such as teaching about Black agency (mentioned around 41:35) and teaching about intersectionality (mentioned around 48:30), things that I hope to bring into my future classroom.
On the third prompt – discussing how to reimagine our classrooms as a space to disrupt racial injustice, I think one key thing we as a society need to do is to value teachers. At around the 56:45 point in the webinar, they spoke on how teachers need a space where they can be the intellectuals that they can be – I think this speaks directly to the defunding of schools that have taken place in our country over the last 40 or 50 years, that have left our teachers with way too many students and additional duties and not enough time to prepare for them. And so teachers get stuck doing basic lessons that aren’t transformative, and don’t feel like they have time to show interest in their students or their community. Basically everyone I’ve met in the education sphere so far – no one wants to be a ‘bad’ teacher, but sometimes it’s just too much to not resort to the easy way out. I think that if we simply reimagined teachers as academics and and actually important figures in our society supported them as such, everything would fall into place just a bit easier.
Privilege was not something I often considered growing up since I was lucky enough to be born into a middle-class household with little exposure to social issues such as diversity and racial injustice, but when the Black Lives Matter protests began, I was also in the middle of starting my transition from male to female. I started to understand the multiple perspectives associated with the protests and why they weren’t “riots” or “unlawful” whereas before transitioning, I may have simply chosen a route of ambivalence. I was fairly involved with the protests early on, so I was exposed to the more “controversial” parts of what the media and politicians were advertising regarding the protests and saw firsthand that these were not protests of anger or hatred, but protests of justice and peace. I especially was sure to consider how important this unrest was for educators – diversity had always somewhat gone over my head before this summer, and while I always valued diversity and equal opportunities in the classroom, I was now able to see why this had such major implications for teaching students of different backgrounds. In short, the Black Lives Matter protests are aimed at shedding a light on the injustices that people of color have faced at the hands of police simply because of their socio-economic status and the color of their skin, but in my opinion, it became much more than that. Instead, these protests became a beacon that showed just how flawed our justice system is from all angles and exposed the true colors of many so-called leaders in our society. On a surface level, these protests show educators their implicit biases that they might not even be aware of. It is true that students of color face more disciplinary action than white students, and as an educator, this made me re-evaluate the ways in which I viewed my students, specifically my students of color. Privileged educators have a high level of cultural disconnect with their students because of the backgrounds that they come from compared to these students, and while it is easy to say that you prefer to remain unbiased, putting those words into actions is a very different process that requires reflection and kindness instead of discipline and tough love. Overall, the principles of the Black Lives Matter protests has shaped my view on what it means to be an educator who teachers for justice and equity. Rather than remaining quiet and separate from these political issues, it is now more of a goal for me to note how I can teach my students how to be compassionate, understanding, and kind members of society by considering how the events of the world directly influence the lives of their classmates.
My goal going forward as a teacher is to create a classroom that operates as a safe space for opinions and discussion of political viewpoints without the juxtoposition of a teacher in the role of someone in power. By being a guide to discussion on these current events, I as a teacher will be better able to not shape my students’ views of the world, but to help them come to their own conclusions on what it truly means to be an advocate, ally, and politically active person in a tense climate.
I am finishing my undergrad degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, right at the time the Black Lives Matter movement has gained notoriety across the nation. Being a pre-service teacher participating in marches & protests that could potentially change my future students’ lives is something I will hold on to.
To me, teachers should take the route of total neutrality. It’s stated that when first talked about in history, we reference Blacks through slavery. There is so much more rich history thousands of years before white colonizers stole their rights, and we should be celebrating it. In my classroom, I want to engage in writers that stray away from the norm of literature and introduce points of view that I have otherwise not experienced. I want my students to feel as if their voices are heard, and that they are allowed to share their opinions. Any opinions for white supremacy/anti-blackness will not be tolerated in any form. As teachers, this is where we should look to first as far as breaking through the veil of racism we have grown so accustomed to. I think it’s important we also bring up conversations that might be difficult in order to allow students voices to be heard.
Hey Jasmine, my name is Nathan. I recently went back to school after many years in order to get certified to teach history. I appreciate your comments and agree with much of what you said. I believe that there is a lot of rich history for black students that we should incorporate into our curriculum than just slavery. I believe that Black History Month should not be the only time we discuss Black History. I believe that this generation has an advantage over my generation (I’m 44) in that they are more open to new points of view and discussing sensitive topics of race. Having said that, racism and prejudice is something that everyone struggles with at some point in their lives, but as educators we can and should set the example of openness and fairness and inclusiveness. Keep up the good work.
Hello, my name is Andrea. I’ll be covering “What is the Black Lives Matter Movement, and what role do you see it playing in schools? How do you see these principles guiding your teaching practices, if at all?”
Black Lives Matter Movement began in the US and has become an international movement. The purpose is to establish racial equity to all people of color. Systemic racism has put obstacles in front of people of color for centuries. However, the movement began in 2013 due to the murder of Trayvon Martin. The center of BLM is to educate and demand change to unjust systems that have continued to target people of color. BLM should have a role in schools because it affects the livelihood of many of the students and parents that schools serve as well as open conversations for students that do not have those opportunities in their own home. Often times students are having these conversations with people that might not have the correct information they need to fully understand these complicated, oppression.
As a future social studies teacher, I think it is extremely important to implement BLM into the curriculum and teach Black history not just during Black History Month but throughout the year. In the webinar, a few things made me more eager to become a teacher. It was mentioned that the pandemic has heightened policing in schools because they’re bringing it home. One girl was sent to juvenile detention because she was not completing her homework or students are getting in trouble for not asking for permission to use the restroom in their own home. As a aunt that is seeing a lot of this policing in her nieces/nephews education make me want to go out there faster. Another part from the webinar that was important was the need to build communities in support to the school BLM stance as well as developing allyship and resistance in our students.
BLM is a human rights issue. It should not be controversial, so much so that it discourages people from talking about it. It’s important to have the difficult conversations because that is the only true way we can work together to change our society.
My name is Kayanna Pickett and i am a freshman at Austin Peay State University majoring in education K-5.
Black lives matter is the movement of people of all races/ethnicity coming together to make their voices heard against the continuous violence by law enforcement against black women and men. Many schools around the nation either voiced their opinion on the matter brief and there’s other schools who acted in unity with black lives matter to bring awareness to the police brutality and violence against black people. However, those very schools were meet with discouragement and violence as well. For example, John Muir elementary school was going to host an event where 100 black men would give high fives to students to change the narrative around education and black children. In addition to that, they were going to wear black lives matter shirts for the event. But that information got leaked to the media and they were faced with backlash and threats. I feel as if that serves as a reason for many schools not acting in solidarity with black lives matter. They are scared/nervous for the reaction from the public and because of that they chose to avoid the movement.
To teach black lives is to uplift and educate the black youth of the history of African Americans that is overlooked in the history books. One of the many issues raised in the online seminar includes how the first-time children learn about African Americans roots at slavery. Going through grade school and secondary school every history lesson of African Americans always revolved around slavery or the famous leaders/activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. It was just mostly limited to that, and during black history month was just a repeat of the famous leaders/activist. In my future classroom, I will and always incorporate the success of African Americans before and after slavery and civil rights movement. I will educate them on the importance and worthiness that African Americans hold in society.
To re imagine our classrooms to disrupt racial injustice, transform the world, and humanize the lives of black youth can start with changing the perspective of black people and the word black. According to Joyce King, “the Western world has intentionally made everything black to symbolize all that is evil and bad” (Joyce King). While the term white Is representing with purity and cleanliness. That for example represents how black bodies are mis read and mis interpreted.
I see the Black Lives Matter Movement as a push to recognize racial inequalities and abolish institutional racism.Meanwhile, schools are representations of the community. Because the Movement seeks to abolish institutional racism and if there are oppressive practices in the community, then the Movement also has a role in schools. The role that the Movement has in schools is still the same as outside of school but addresses issues specific to schooling. Some examples are classroom behavior, student and teacher expectations, texts, literature, and lesson planning. The 13 principles guide the culture that I must nurture in my classroom. It’s more than how we treat each other or how I treat my students. I must also be mindful in whether my teaching allows for equitable learning for all of my students. Not one student should achieve more than the other student based on how I teach my class. To do this, it’s consequential that my teaching practices will implement the 13 principles. Without any of them, how can I create an equitable learning environment?
One of the issues from the webinar caught my attention. Some teachers or parents find it uncomfortable or unacceptable to talk about BLM as it politicizes the classroom; however, to deny the discussion of BLM also politicizes the classroom. The classroom should be a space that allows students to have open discussion. I seek a heavily discussion-based math classroom where my students have the freedom and are encouraged to share with their solutions, findings, and reasoning while letting them critique each other and themselves. I find this to empower my students and allow them to take charge of their education. If a student of mine feels important to discuss BLM, I, as their teacher who made this specific environment, cannot deny them that right.
Hey Ryan! My name is Fabi. I am in the single subject credential program at CSULB and my content area is art.I agree with and what you acknowledge regarding the Black Lives Movements. You state key points that need to be addressed in a school setting. Like you said, if this is an issue outside of class, it’s important we discuss it in class. Although we have to prepare to have parents that won’t support these conversations, we have to remind everyone that this is not political. These discussions are regarding the basic human rights black lives seek. They seek the same rights as everyone else. Unfortunately the system does not value it the same. Recognizing the inequalities Black lives face in today’s society is important and it’s our job to help all students understand. Lets help empower the black lives in our classroom so that they can achieve their academic goals in school at the highest level. Lets use multiple methods and strategies so that we can decrease the achievement gap and help these students feel welcomed, confident, safe and comfortable.
My name is K. Sickel, and I am a graduate student within an embedded teaching program and high school sports coach.
My initial thought in response to the the Black Lives Matter Movement was in favor of the majority I believe of most white Americans, which is a generalization of the proximity of those within which I have interacted along side during recent discussions on like topics. “What can I do to positively affect and influence those within my circle to help this movement? Where possibly have I turned the blind eye to these issues where I have more influence to change?”
I believe this movement is one of political and social encouragement of equality.
My mindset has been all over the place during the time frame for which the movement has begun to grow, particularly over the past 12-18 months. This discussion board with attached discussion articles and material has been extremely insightful and helpful in my thought process.
Without much time relative overall to the situation to think and process the events or actions having taken place, we began to see people take to social media to post of how we now stand with black people during this difficult time. And as I began to read hundreds of thousands of tweets, “I stand with You” I thought, “did you not before now?” and there within this lies the largest problem for me. Do my black friends, family members, and/or students, believe at any point prior to a tweet being sent out that I did not stand for them and with them against injustice?
The largest aspect of this here I hope to impact my classroom with in the future is that of which is unspoken. From here on out am I required as a white teacher to voice to all of my minority students that I stand with them? And I do not question required as a negative, but rather as an honest question, by me vocalizing that statement, am I making my classroom more open and comforting? Because if that is the case of what needs to happen to influence positively then that is what will happen from the jump.
When students enter my class they ALL have my trust and my respect until proven other wise. I enter the building each and everyday with an attitude of gratitude that says by my actions not by my words, “I stand with you.” Being that I am apart of the ‘next generation’ of teachers, (mid 20s age), I grew up idolizing and romanticizing my black brothers and sisters. To have to exile black students to explain to them I support them now would then support the idea that at some point I did not support them before. To teach for Black Lives to me means teaching what is true. Teaching how to do good for goodness’ sake. I have posters of Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant on my classroom wall, not for that they are great black basketball players, but for that they are my favorite basketball players, period. Not blind to color, but I want to teach that individuals are good at things for the work they put into them, and their race is never an effecting factor of that. The articles and webinar discuss humanizing, and I humanize by identifying strengths and weaknesses, and helping students utilize those to improve and restore. As the webinar said they should teach about the good of the past, celebrating black culture instead of just narrowing the teaching to the negatives.
I hope to learn from and along side those on this discussion board.