Examine Your Preconceptions
Do you find that you have preconceived notions about African American students? Gail L. Thompson, the author of The Power of One: How You Can Help or Harm African American Students (Corwin Press. ISBN# 978-1-4129-7676-3), wrote a guide on how to address and rid yourself of any underlying racial baggage or prejudices.
The Power of One contains stories from teachers, parents and former students about their educational experiences, as well as actual classroom scenarios. Each chapter ends with exercises and personal assessments to help you uncover and examine your personal beliefs and become a better educator as a result of what you learn about yourself.
Of course, I can't peer over your shoulder and read your answers, writes Thompson. But I do know that if you sincerely want to increase your efficacy with African American students, you can. In other words, if you choose to, you can become a better educator of African American students. The choice is yours.
So how do you go about becoming a more effective teacher of African American students? On pages 103-107 of her book, Thompson provides some classroom management basics:
1. Deal with your fears.
Teachers' fears of students, especially African American males, is one of the main reasons why so many African American males are viewed as discipline problems and are suspended, expelled and tracked for prison. There is a great deal of research that shows that the widespread fear that Americans have about black males continues to cause a great deal of physical, emotional and psychological pain for black male students.
2. Make Sure the Students Know and Understand Your Class Rules and Expectations
In order to set the right tone about learning and to decrease the likelihood that students will misbehave in class, it's important for you to make sure that students know and understand the rules.
TIP: When the author taught high school, she handed out a sheet on the first day of school that explained her classroom rules and grading policies. …