When you teach in a predominantly White community, conversations about race can be uncomfortable, even in professional settings. While we may feel we are being polite or even respectful, the truth is that we White teachers often lack the courage to include race in critical conversations about student performance.
I had to situate this seemingly small act of bias in a larger socio-political context. It was my responsibility to acknowledge the impact of my action and make intentional efforts to provide a counter narrative not only for Mohamed, but to every child in my classroom.
That is why I am in love with teaching. Working with young people means that I get to witness these small acts of brilliant humanity all the time. I get to continually be inspired and challenged and amazed. I get to watch as students transform themselves into people who will change the world.
Every teacher gets a moment when they face one kid or a hundred kids just like Damion. It's in these moments your core beliefs are challenged and revealed.
Carissa told me that she had not been completely honest about why she was calling me. She did not have a paper to write and did not need to ask me any questions. Instead, she wanted to see my honest reaction as she read a letter aloud that she had written to me.
Equity in education today is more than just the availability of an education; it's recognizing the fact that some students require more support than others to reach their academic potential.
Often teachers will give and give to a point where it becomes unhealthy, taking us away from our own families or our personal lives. As lifelong learners, we make a second career of attending conferences and workshops, or reading and participating in professional learning outside of our work day. This tendency to overcommit ourselves can be exploited by schools and districts under pressure to perform and reach ever higher achievement with fewer resources.
Even now, when I think about my journey to leadership my eyes tear up because it was not an easy road. I had to face my fears, take rejection, and push myself to do and learn more. I learned to go for my dreams, accept failure and refuse to accept "No."
We live in interesting times. As our global society struggles to navigate problems brought about by fear and misunderstanding of those who are different, we have unprecedented access to tools that make connecting and learning with others easier than ever before.
Around the nation students of color and low-income students are underrepresented in accelerated courses; this is a long-term driver and consequence of societal inequality.