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In the classroom, Black children can often be treated like second class citizens.

I learned the hard way that often times when our children are reporting to us with conflict or having “issues” with their teachers, we as parents ought to believe them. Here’s why, many teachers simply do not have the wherewithal to effectively deal with the cultural differences that naturally exists between themselves and their students. After all, teachers are only people;  Mere mortals and life can condition them to have prejudices and preconceived notions about Black people just like anyone else. However, when this spills over into the classroom, teacher-student conflict can easily contaminate the learning environment.

This is why I believe that discipline is of the utmost importance. A well behaved student can make the difference in how the teacher relates to him, her and their peers. When our children are not busy living up to the negative stereotypes, it’s a lot harder for the facilitator to justify his or her prejudiced attitudes and behaviors. Classroom management can be organized and structured around pathways for successful learning which is inclusive of all students.

Parents, please encourage your learner to use their manners and the “home training” that we work so hard to instill within them. Remind them that is our onus as parents to advocate on their behalf when conflict arises. If the child is in a position where they feel they must self-advocate, teach them to do so assertively yet politely until the adult care-giver can intervene. Not only does this show the teacher that the child is valued and supported, it reinforces to the child that they are safe and protected. It also helps to preserve balance in the classroom as no teacher will take being undermined or disrespected lightly which can lead to burned bridges even if the conflict was encouraged by the teacher to begin with. This can lead to a myriad of BS which ultimately distracts from learning.

With September fast approaching, set aside some time to sit down with your child and talk about the expectations that you have for them in terms of their performance, attitude, citizenship and behavior within the school environment. Having an open dialogue and establishing parameters for their conduct and deportment can help to better prepare them mentally as well as alleviate any uncertainty they might have toward their role in the classroom and that of the figures of authority they will have to deal with every day.

Back to school preparation is about us as much as it’s about them. Help them to establish goals, milestones and objectives for the new school year. Nurture their ambition, I promise you, it will help you to not only support their educational needs, it may save you some really nasty headaches down the road. It’s ok, you can trust me because I’m speaking from my own experience as an educator and as a parent.

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.

~Rachelle

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