This past week I got to hear from several classmates speeches ways that we as teachers handle diversity in our classrooms. It really stuck with me on the topic of microaggressions. That was something i never noticed or took into account before I heard it discussed in class. I went to my local school for setting up field hours later that day, and after i had set that up i was talking to another teacher i knew. With that topic still sitting with me, I noticed how she dismissed the first student who was a minority student and was answering a question saying it was not right and moving on to the next even though i clearly heard the second student repeat the first answer. The teacher gave credit to the second answer and I mentioned to her that her first student actually did give the right answer. That bothered me and is now one thing I am trying to keep in mind going forward. I need to push for my students to voice their thoughts and make sure to TRULY listen to what they say and not dismiss it.
Poverty was another thing that came up because it plays a key factor; and it is one we as teachers can have an impact on in our classrooms! My book which is Subtractive Schooling: U.S.-Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring has a part in it where a teacher talks about where he would spend every 2 hours a night making taquitos for children who would otherwise go through the day with just a single meal at lunch as a way to start to gain his students’ respect and trust. He recognized to help his students that our first step is in the way we form professional caring relationships with our students is checking on their basic needs first which in this case was lack of nutrition. He did this for TWO YEARS where they could come to his room during the morning hours and get some food and it created the opportunity where the students could talk with Mr Sosa until finally he could reach his students and help them succeed not only in class but in everyday life. They even came to him for advice about certain situations. I remember Gainer talking with us about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and this is exactly what they reminded me of as i read it. I also had a teacher like this in my own life and is one i still go to about life and just keeping in touch.
That seems to be the most amazing thing about our position as educators; we can help reach out to our students as advocates on their behalf and show them what it means to have respect for everyone and how to embrace being yourself in pride because everyone is unique and deserves to be valued! I remember helping in a classroom this past Tuesday and working with a group of students on a worksheet and the first young man I checked on was not working even on the first problem because he did not have faith in himself to do the math so I encouraged him and we talked through the problem and the terminology used and saw how he just needed a different method of approaching and learning it. I did not even have to try to encourage him to keep going as he just kept going with each problem that followed. The same was true for some other young women and men in my group. Once that mindset is changed to believing they can do it, then the students can flourish every way possible.That change can be contagious but it needs to start with the way we approach each day and opportunity to reach our students.