Everyday Equity in the Classroom: A Start
"For these are all our children, we will all profit by or pay for what they become." -James Baldwin
We need each other.
The future of the 20.6 million black and brown students and the teachers who serve them are inextricably woven together. We graduate or drop-out together. We learn or fail to learn together. We get suspended or stay in school together. As we move into decade three of the high stakes testing era and embrace the reality of a fast-approaching majority-minority public school system inside of a knowledge-based economy, every action we take to help these students achieve is mission critical. If they succeed, it is because the teacher leaders, administrators and superintendents of this great country have seen themselves in the eyes of each child and done the necessary work and preparation to motivate and launch them out into lives lived on their own terms.
To that end, this blog is meant to assist teachers and administrators with the tools, tips and strategies needed to eliminate barriers that prevent students of color from experiencing excellent instruction everyday. The title of this blog is 'Everyday Equity in the Classroom,' and the classroom will be our area of focus. It is my intention that the strategies can begin online, but filter throughout neighboring classrooms, into the larger school system and influence a society of stakeholders that depend on the success of all of our students.
I serve the students and staff of the historic Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. as an English Language Arts Instructional Coach. I also teach one section of journalism. Dunbar High School is the first public high school for African Americans in our country—our history is replete with history-makers such as Dr. Charles Drew and Senator Eleanor Holmes Norton. Everyday I arrive on this campus, I am reminded of our great history. When I work with students and teachers, I am reminded of how much work we still have to accomplish. Helping teachers and students perform at their highest level has been my life's work for each of the 13 years I have been in education.
In 2012, as a middle school English Department Chair in the Baltimore County Public School system, I was named the teacher of the year for the state of Maryland. This is an honor that will always mean so very much to me as it allowed me to see just how many great educators there are in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and the country. I have been able to speak to many different audiences about the power of teaching our minority children well and am excited to be sharing some insights on this blog.
The structure of each blog post is pretty simple. Using research and experience, I will highlight a specific principle of classroom instruction. Next, I will offer three specific actions or strategies that can be used right away. To further support learning, I will also give two resources and close with a quote, story or video that hopefully will touch the hearts of everyone who subscribes to this blog.
'These are all our children...'
It is my hope that the words and strategies from this blog will help every single black and brown student experience a daily education that fits, that is profitable and that is worthy of their engagement. If we make that happen for these children, we invariably make it happen for all of us too. Our students do not only need a champion in the home and in the community; they need champions in their classrooms, everyday. Let's get to work.