With the events of 2017, the needs and indeed safety of minority students have come into sharp focus.
Many teachers are uncomfortable addressing the subject or do not feel they have the cultural competency to speak to the issues. We are all going to say or do something wrong occasionally ... and that needs to be OK. Making the occasional mistake is a part of learning.
They key issue is either all students have a seat at the table, or they don't.
A Conversation With My Black Son
Ask almost any minority parent and they'll tell you the hardest thing was giving their children "The Talk", not about the birds and the bees, but about what to do when, not if, they are stopped by the police.
In this short documentary from Op-Docs at the New York Times, parents reveal their struggles with telling their black sons that they may be targets of racial profiling by the police, referred to within the communities as DWB (driving while black/brown).
- YouTube URL
National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15. Established under President Johnson and expanded under President Regan, it recognizes the contributions made by Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture.
Learn more about National Hispanic Heritage Month at sites like this one sponsored by the Library of Congress and other governmental agencies.
This article from The Guardian newspaper in London looks at the joys and challenges of teaching multi-cultural classes in schools throughout England. It offers tips and looks at the challenges and opportunities when a majority of the students may not even be primary English speakers.
From the article: "I think you need to be open about how little you know; be curious; learn some words and customs, and most importantly show an interest in them."
A Conversation With White People On Race
Another film from Op-Docs at the New York Times, this documentary features interviews with white people on the challenges of talking about race, and even realizing that they are part of a race too.
- YouTube URL
The New York Times editorial department created Op-Docs to showcase short documentaries, produced by independent filmmakers and artists, covering a wide range of subjects.
Op-Docs has assembled a wide range of conversations on race, spanning more than 30 videos. Check out their other offerings here.
Racism comes in many forms. Even well meaning people can perpetuate stereotypes and put people in boxes they don't deserve.
This is a resource that we've linked to for many years, that we now realize may not be appropriate.
While there is a disclaimer – "the techniques that successfully meet the unique needs of American Indian students are also effective with any non-typical learner" – the article then goes on to list the failings of American Indians – not even using their preferred term, Native Americans.
- They drop out of school a lot.
- They don't learn and process information like other people.
- They have a lot of visual learning disorders.
- They don't speak clearly and effectively.
- Their community is not actively engaged (or allowed to engage) in their instruction.
While there are many ideas in the article that would help if implemented, most of the issues described here are common across all races and communities, not just Native Americans.
By understanding and accommodating the preferred learning methods of each student, we can make the classroom a much more enjoyable place for both students and teachers. They key is treating each students as an individual, not as members of this box or that.
Dr. Lourdes created this seminar to deal with some of the challenges that African-American and Hispanic students face. Minority students, and Hispanic and African American as particular, often lag behind in academic achievement.
Dr. Lourdes looks at commonly held beliefs/assumptions and then at strategies that schools can implement to improve the situation.
Her strategies include ideas to ...
- build trust, empathy and mutual respect,
- strengthen your cognitive abilities to anticipate and navigate thru student problem manifestations, and
- advocacy, proactive planning, building up community contacts, and documenting best practices.
The American Indian Library Association has compiled a list of resources for the native American communities. Everything from American Indians in Children's Literature and FCC Internet Tribal Initiatives to Native Health Database and Oyate (an excellent source for children's books).
This post from the Brookings Institution looks at the fact that the 2020 Census will show that more than half of Americans under age 18 are non-white, and proposes that the issues of segregated schools, income inequality, access to college education, etc. need to be addressed now.
From the article, "... older working class whites think that, compared with the 1950s, America's culture and way of life have changed for the worse and that immigrants today are a burden. Younger whites and racial minorities believe the opposite."
Compare the Brookings post on It's America's minority youth that deserve ... with this article from the Washington Examiner.
Both talk about the same subject, but compare the images used and how the subject is discussed. One is hopeful with ideas for how to make the U.S. better. The other vaguely menacing and unsettling, never coming out and saying it, but implying that "whites" are about to loose their political influence.
A short essay by Brandon Burns looking at the fact that we're all minorities. "For every person on my news feed grieving, there's another in a different social circle, rejoicing."
PREL is an independent, nonprofit organization with staff in Hawai'i, American Sāmoa, the Mariana Islands, Guam, and much of the rest of the Pacific. PREL works throughout school systems, from classroom to administration, and collaborate routinely with governments, communities, and businesses to transform schooling and promote dynamic reciprocal learning communities built on strong social and cultural capital. They provide programs, services, and products to promote educational excellence.
Rather than assuming one-size-fits-all, acknowledging and accepting our students' cultural diversity can make for a more comfortable classroom environment and lead to learning opportunities as we explore different cultures.