2015-2016 was a very eventful year for me. I learned a lot about myself. I was embarrassed by what I’d allowed and yet made proud of who I’d become. That year also helped me find my true purpose in life and my place in education.
The school year began quite overwhelmingly. A day after returning from China with my wife, who competed in the World Championships in Beijing China, I dove in headfirst into the second week of the new school year. It was a chaotic situation to say the least for. The district had hired their 4th principal in 4 years. Lack of administrative retention is common in urban schools. All this was followed by the longest teacher strike in 20 years.
There lies the embarrassment. Upon beginning my professional teaching career, I reported to the Board of Education building only to be rushed to my new class no questions asked. That wasn’t a huge deal for me because it was probably implied that I understood the expectation; both of my parents had been educators all my life. Because I had graduated and taught as a substitute in the district, I trusted that my school district would treat me right. But the Good Book is right when it says, “Put not your faith in rulers, or in the son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Psalms 146:3) At the year’s end it became clear that my time had expired there. Although I probably faced the most stress that year, I was distracted by my desire to “give back.”
Education is a thankless job, I understood that, but what I didn’t understand was, like in several situations in education, “Why is it made so hard for us to teach? Then I had to ask myself, ” why am I using what’s familiar to handcuff myself to an uncomfortable place?” Kids are kids. Over time you grow attached to them as they grow attached to you. But they move on, they graduate. They are supposed to! So now it’s time for me too as well.
I hear it all the time,”The black students in urban schools need to see and be around a strong black man because there are so few positive male role models.” Truth is All kids need to see black men in a positive light.
In 2012 the National Center for Education Statistics reported that roughly 7% of all elementary and secondary school teachers are black and within that less than half were male.
Oftentimes we allow our comfort zones to take advantage of us, thus causing us to miss out on amazing opportunities. Experiences give us insight and a unique perspective. That perspective needs to be realized everywhere and should not be reserved for one situation. Children everywhere need to have opportunities to have a teaching staff just as diverse as their student population, just as diverse as the world they live in. Sadly, the majority of the schools in America lack a diverse teacher staff.
Because lack of diversity in schools, (the springboard to society) majority of our population is left with only stereotypes to gain understanding of people different from themselves. Stereotypes are the absolute worst representation of any person, place, or thing. The only thing they do is perpetuate fear and hate.
Teachers, for a long time, have been teaching much more than their subject matter. Teachers are change agents. They are just as responsible as parents for helping young people develop their own ideologies about society which helps them identify who they are. So as teacher’s career progresses, they must always stay conscious of what they do and say because they, in essence, shape the future.