What better time than on the 60th anniversary of Brown v Board of Education for us to reflect on the importance of providing equal educational opportunities for all children and to pose the question: “Are our schools succeeding at offering equal education?”
Well, to answer that question we would need information on the racial discrepancies in our schools, showing both the discipline gaps and the achievement gaps among our students.
If our school systems were more forthcoming in making public the disaggregated data and statistics pertaining to these racial disparities, then we would know if our schools were succeeding with their mission of providing equal, high-quality educational opportunities for all our students.
As our county and city school teachers head back to the classrooms in just a few days now, let’s challenge them to contemplate the enormous influence they can have in improving educational outcomes for all students. With 34 years of educational practice in the classroom, I can say with the highest confidence that those persons who will have the most direct impact on student outcomes will be our classroom teachers, standing on the front line each day, taking on the tremendous challenge, that of assisting all children to succeed in school.
Knowing that it’s a matter of being fair and respectful, good teachers must be consistent in applying equal treatment for the same offense, giving all students a fair deal in the discipline arena. Along with being fair and respectful, a good teacher knows it’s important to reach out, working to bridge the culture gap while showing value and respect toward all cultures.
Good teachers know that those who have high expectations often have a good deal of success with their students, helping them discover the fun in achievement. Thus, students who are motivated to learn generally behave better in school, which allows the teacher to spend more time on classroom instruction and less on dealing with disruptive behaviors.
Good teachers make the effort to reach all their students, letting them know early on that you really want them to be in the class. It is important for teachers to get over and beyond the myths about having certain students in class, being prepared to teach all students, anywhere. Working at succeeding with every student is quite a challenge, and if students “sense” that you care about them and will “go to bat” for them, they will embrace you.
Good teachers, it’s time to walk the talk. We have to do more to help our children experience educational success early and often, believing that if every child receives a good education, the whole society is much better off. In addition, it is so important for all students to develop a positive awareness of self that will empower them “to go where their skills, desires and opportunities will take them.”
According to “Black Child Care” author Alvin F. Poussaint, “success improves the self-concept and makes it easier to take on the next challenge.” Increasing the reach of caring and effective classroom teachers will do more than anything else in positively impacting student achievement.
With the start of the new school year just days away, contemplate on being that teacher who will create that memorable first day impression, awakening new ambitions that will motivate your students for a lifetime.