Mr Warren was trying to help the new student adjust, yet Aliyah would not even show him basic respect. The teacher stared at her, stating firmly, “You look at me while I’m talking to you!”
What Mr Warren didn’t realise is that Aliyah was being respectful. While he had been taught to look people in the eye during a conversation, Aliyah had been taught to be deferential to an authority figure by looking down. This wasn’t about who was right or wrong at that moment, this was about the assumption of what is right by each person.
Respect is not only important to the teacher, but it is also a vital part of a student’s self-concept — and the success that flows from feeling valued. Teachers need to take the time to think deeply about their own background and experiences and how these impact their interactions with students, especially those of races, ethnicities and backgrounds different from their own. With the intense attention to curriculum and testing, educators rarely focus on this critical introspection. Yet this self-awareness is at the heart of building authentic relationships with students and their families, an essential factor in student success.
@embracediversiT – Global speaker, trainer, consultant, Washington, DC