Before the Thanksgiving break, I had a heart to heart with the scholars who I teach in my small group classes at 7 Pillars Career Academy . As I end my speech, one of my scholars said that he wanted to add one thing to conversation. He said that he was grateful to have me as a teacher because he never had a Black male teacher. This led to a class discussion.
In navigating the conversation, I asked probing questions like what it is that you like about school? What did some of your most memorable teachers do that made you like their class. The girls had good stories to share but mostly all of the Black boys had the opposite experience. So their reasons, for having a Black male teacher were a little longer.
I was able to get the boys ideas capture in a mini lesson on sequential order. I had the girls and boys to compare and contrast their reasons in small groups and then we narrowed down the list with the whole group. So, here are the results of my classroom conversation turned social experiment. These are the top three reasons why my students are thankful to have a Black male teacher.
Black students desire to be affirmed by Black males.
I learned how presenting affirmations in various ways helped decrease discipline write ups. As an Assistant Principal, it was a part of my work to decrease student infractions in order to increase student achievement.
Now as a Special Education teacher, I implement these same strategies and variations of empowering students through affirmations in what I call “The Success Zone”. It’s how I start the day with my scholars.
Affirmations aren’t just reading inspirational quotes to students. I am intentional about creating lessons that introduce how we will put learning into practice, mixed with the art of storytelling and goal setting that allows an atmosphere where failure isn’t feared and success isn’t unattainable.
Black male teachers bring swag to the classroom!
One of the most valuable resources of Black male teachers is our presence. Swag isn’t just about our physical appearance. It’s our character, how we show up in a space, what we do to shift any atmosphere we’re in.
It’s one of the reasons why we’re impacting classrooms positively! This begins with our students when we realize that we were distracted by and focused on the same things at that age.
The fact of the matter is, it really is all about swag for adolescents and teenagers. If you haven’t been checking out our EdLanta, Black male teachers are definitely bringing swag to the classroom through innovative academic practices.
Black male teachers engage students in classroom like the coolness of Obama.
We do bring a special coolness to the classroom. My students love the mytefact that they can’t predict how I’m going to teach a lesson. This keeps them interested. They like the coolness of my classroom and teaching methods. I can teach the same concept in 8 different ways and they will be just as engaged as the first time.
Also, my students love my classes because of how I teach. I teach to their disability to empower the abilities they don’t realize they have. This requires them to be engaged. They like the engagement because they want to be heard, seen, appreciated, empowered to take on challenges, learn something new and show that they’ve mastered something.
Black boys especially find a sense of acceptance and achievement within my classroom which makes my students want to achieve more. This is a common thread with many Black male teachers.
It may not work for all, but for my fellow Black male teachers who are breaking barriers in achievement especially in students that look like us, it’s working, and our students are thankful!
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.