“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways!” – Michael Jackson
We all know that true change comes from looking at the man or woman in the mirror. Which is why it’s important for children of color to see more Black males involved in the educational process.
In celebrating Black Male Educators, I must start with home. Latin College Prep in East Point, Georgia, brought on a new Executive Director, Davion Lewis, earlier this year to change the direction of the school. The school named a new Principal, Christian Harden, as well as a larger number of Black male educators added to the instructional team.
For each grade level there are at least two Black male educators; two in grades six and seven, three in grade eight and three in our electives department. In celebrating Black male educators, please see the successes, best practices and a message to other Black male educators below from our featured educator.
Meet Michael Jackson, Educator
Michael Jackson is the seventh-grade ELA teacher at Latin College Prep. Born in a small town of less than a 1000 people in South Carolina, Michael grew up knowing that he was a Black boy who wanted to grow up to be a successful Black man.
“Within school, I was that student who was talkative, had an attitude and even got into fights but it was special teachers who took the time to believe in me and show me things about the world!”
He has a bachelor’s degree in English from Morris College, a master’s in Secondary English Education from South Carolina State University and an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership and Policies from Walden University. He also has a certification in School Leadership from Liberty University.
As a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., he leads our Spartan Step Team at the school. His philosophy of education is, “My students aren’t the only ones learning in my class. I too am learning from my students!”
Let’s hear more from this inspiring Black male educator:
Successes in Education
I have found success in the classroom by building a rapport with students.
Building rapport for me is not just getting to know scholars names and hobbies but having conversations with them as well that they wouldn’t necessarily have with their parents. I am that teacher who goes to their sports games, churches, recitals while also listening to their music, watching their favorite TV shows and even asking how their parents are doing.
Other successes I have found in the class through making the material relatable. Not only as a teacher but as a student, if I cannot relate to the material being taught then it is difficult for me to understand it. I work to relate the material being taught to all my students such as creating acronyms for writing traits, pulling popular articles in to help relate to current events, utilizing music as poetry.
Best Practices Used
Some best practices that I use are daily classroom discussions. Having classroom discussions helps build an inclusive and welcoming environment.
Other best practices that I use are having goals for my students that are reachable. These goals are set every nine weeks and once the nine weeks are over, then we revisit those goals and set new ones. The goals are similar to their strengths and weaknesses.
Another best practice that I use is by having a quote wall that builds affirmation. I use the quote wall to help students not only believe in themselves but believe in society when sometimes society doesn’t sometimes believe in us.
A Message to Black Male Educators
To Black male educators everywhere, never give up on your students because each one is unique in their own way—but also, never give up on yourself. Never give up on yourself because thinking outside of the box for your students to learn is okay, having to ask why in education is okay, and even having to create your own way to have students learn and for you to learn from your students is definitely okay.
There has been much dialogue about the need for Black male educators on every level starting at pre-K and through college. Although there are not as many as we desire, there are a great number of Black male educators who are making change in classrooms, board rooms and schools across America.
KUDOS to Latin College Prep for changing the game and empowering Black male educators.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.