My good friends got married in Orange County last month. A. and I went to college together. Her husband S. begins his first year teaching HS Spanish at Green Dot Public Schools this fall. A few months ago, I was thrilled to receive a call that S. had an interview with the L.A. based charter management organization. Together we brainstormed questions to ask Green Dot. I love how S. is committed to increasing opportunities for low-income Spanish speaking students.
The question about other people’s perception of our work caught me off-guard. S. made me wonder how my community outside of (family, church, friend, etc.) views the students with whom I work. I assume we share the same outlook, but that's only because it hasn't really come up. It’s a conversation that needs to be had.
I’ve experienced prejudice first hand, but I’ve never dealt with it in relation to teaching. How should teachers respond when confronted with unjust attitudes about the intelligence and motivation of students whom we teach?
I don’t know the right answer. I’m no social evangelist, and I think misconceptions are best corrected through personal experience rather than arguments. However, a starting point for this conversation would be my own beliefs about my students’ ability vs. opportunity: equitable and unequitable with kids in an affluent district respectively.
How would you respond?