There are 2% of Black men in the education field; imagine the number of Black male counselors there are in schools. Ken Kemp, Black Male counselor in Atlanta, Georgia, is featured in this post to share the importance of his work as a Black male counselor and the positive impact it has on Black boys. We hope this will encourage other Black men to become educators.
As a Black male counselor, I see firsthand how impactful the work that we do is. It leaves a positive, lasting impact on Black boys.
Taking the time to be a part of their lives makes a huge impact. They want their fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, coaches to do this with them.
Building trust with our Black boys provides a powerful foundation for life-changing instruction. Black Male Counselors create a safe space for our Black boys where they are empowered and mentored. This allows our Black boys to have unlimited access.
Suspending or removing Black boys from school only pushes them further behind academically. They are left behind once they are suspended.
Implementing a positive reinforcement system (PBIS) has positive effects on school climate. The negative behaviors in my scholars have declined because we focus even more on acknowledging and rewarding positive behaviors. This makes positive behavior the new norm of the school environment.
A Black male counselor is less likely to interpret the student’s behavior negatively, presumably resulting in fewer suspensions that put Black males at risk of dropping out.
If educators continue to focus solely on the poor behavior of Black boys, after a while they will simply give up. SEL works for Black boys if it’s done right.
Being able to identify with a student’s background can have positive effects on not just their test scores, behavior, attendance but their social development. As Black men, we sometimes can identify a little better with the behaviors of Black boys exhibit because we’ve lived their story.
There are a lot of schools that don’t work to identify with Black boys which can create a culture where school suspensions are used to punish poor behavior. They do not see suspension as punishment. Instead, they view it as a vacation from a place where their best efforts are never recognized; only the negative stereotypes schools have of Black boys.
Researchers have examined the issue of school suspensions and learned that a simple expression of empathy by teachers can go a long way toward improving behavior. Black boys respond to being recognized as an individual and not a stereotype. This encourages positive behaviors which in time becomes the norm rather than the exception.
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.