January 6, 2020 will mark the history books as an uncompromised display of treason, anarchy, and, simply stated, a Trump temper tantrum. The most absurd, but accurate, piece of it all is that white privilege was front and center as it stole the show and showed the world that THIS. IS. AMERICA.
And as shameful as some may feel, while others, particularly BIPOC, encompass a "y'all need to get ya folks man" MOOD, the reality is that none of this is new to black and brown folks and it is the type of privilege we, advocates of the Black Lives Matter movement, have been PEACEFULLY protesting against. This is the type of privilege that allows white people to avoid mass death, violence, and police enforcement that coincidently is always ready to aim and fire on black folks and our allies. Remember those protests??? The moments when police promptly arrived, sometimes before the protest began, adorned in full riot gear with absolutely no hesitation to use tear gas, rubber bullets, and brute force to disrupt and disturb those who were outraged by the clear murder of a black man by the hands of police. How dare we be upset about countless murders of black men and women by the hands of those who take an oath to protect and serve? But sadly...
I am not shocked, yet stunned.
When you understand the origins of police in America during slavery, you are not shocked by the Trump supporter's behavior and the lackluster response of authority, but it still stings. So what do we do as educators during times as these?
I have seen an enormous amount of social media posts from educators expressing their concerns, thoughts, and opinions on whether or not they should discuss this in their classroom. Some teachers were expressly directed by their administration to NOT even mention or allow mention of January 6th attempt at a coup in their classroom. Which lends the question...
What are they afraid of?
These sort of directives lead me to think the following:
Admin does not believe their teachers are capable of having an unbiased and objective conversations with their students on such matters.
Admin has not deliberately invested in the development of their teaching staff's culturally responsive mindset and skillset.
Admin is aware that white privilege is the embodiment of their academic structure and thus avoids further exposure in order to adhere to the trope of western/white hegemony, i.e. white privilege.
Whatever the issue may be, a solution must be on the horizon. Many teachers were eager to host this type of conversation, but the first thing must be clearly established.
You must have a meaningful relationship with your students in order for this to even be a possibility.
If students cannot trust your room to be a safe space where all are valued, heard, and encouraged to think critically, you should first focus on building relationships. This could be a moment where you, the educator, express sincere vulnerability, start afresh with your students, state and model your intentions to know and love them better, and then possibly, with grace and a tender "push", it works. But keep in mind, if the brain of your students perceive your classroom to be a threat to their pride, cultural value, and individual identity, they will NOT engage in productive and healthy dialogue because the brain has went into protection mode and canNOT create, problem-solve, and think analytically.
But for those of us who have been creating and sustaining a healthy relationship with our students...I dare you to take these dares!!!
Dare to challenge the harmful norms that are parading the halls and classrooms of your school!
Dare to speak up on truth!
Dare to check your own biases and work to remain objective with your students!
Dare to model emotional processing of your frustrations, lack of knowledge, disappointments, anger, etc. to your students!
Dare to actually FEEL and PROCESS your own emotions first!
Dare to dive deeper into history and current events to provide accurate facts and resources to facilitate social criticality and find moments of hope and joy within the day!
So to help with the dare, I've provided a few tips that will help to get those creative teacher-mind wheels to turning. Let me know in the comments if you find anything of use or have ideas of your own to share. I'm all for community and would love to engage with you all here.
You can also check out some more content-related ideas for how to integrate math, Pre-K literacy, science, and more on my Instagram feed! This is an opportunity to really make your mark with culturally responsive teaching tools. If you need more assistance, do not hesitate to reach out via email at email@example.com. I personally respond to ALL of my Soul Scholar friends within 24-48 hours.
Another valuable resources is an article from Common Sense Media with age-appropriate questions to help facilitate a meaningful discussion with your students.
My E-book is still for sale. Head over to the Shop and make your purchase today. This E-book offers an overview on culturally responsive teaching. This text provides an easy starting point to help teachers understand this arduous, but necessary work. In addition, the resources (checklists, templates, self-reflective assessments) provided in the back of the book offer teachers a great starting point to begin their practice.
Here's a sneak peek into our chapters and the resources at the end:
CRT...What's the Buzz? Defining CRT.
It All Starts with the Mind: Identifying, Challenging, and Overcoming Implicit Bias.
Let's Break it Down: Understanding the Terminology and Theoretical Framework of CRT.
The Role of Social-Emotional Learning
The Need for Rigor
Restorative Justice in a Nutshell.
Make an investment into your professional growth that will not only benefit your skill set, but automatically bless the students and families you serve.
SOUL SCHOLAR PODCAST LAUNCH MLK DAY, JANUARY 18TH.
Stay tuned to my Instagram and be sure you have joined the tribe to hear more about this exciting venture. Let's talk that Soul Scholar talk.
Melanie Desmuke-Battles, PhD is a 12 year educator who has worked the majority of her career in the inner-city loving on BICOC. For the last few years, since she has attained her doctoral degree in Reading Education, she is now an instructional coach and the founding consultant for Scholars for the Soul. She is passionate about helping teachers to become culturally responsive through an ongoing commitment to self-reflection, self-evaluation, mentorship, and growing their teaching practice towards equity and high student achievement both academically and socially. Dr. Battles is a woman of God, wife, and mother of two daughters. In addition to instructional coaching, she teaches as an adjunct professor at a local community college and serves her community through mentorship, volunteer work, and by building familial relationships with the teachers, students, and families she serves. Stay connected to Scholars for the Soul: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/scholars4thesoul/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scholars4thesoul/ Website: scholarsforthesoul.com