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Reflect on One’s Cultural Lens

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Lesson 2, Topic 62
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Competency #3 Episode Copy


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Dr. Robert Simmons: 

When I think about what actually can be done…

Go into the community where young people live. Find a space that intersects with their lived experience and their journey and just sit and be a learner. Not a university. I’m talking about a community center, a church, a community organizing event. Any event that’s in their community. Because then you learn about the reality that they’re facing but you also learn about the beauty and the gifts the community has to offer.

Second, when you’re handed the curriculum, take time to sit with a core group of teachers to unpack it and ask yourselves as a collective,

  1. “Does this speak to the students that we serve?”. For example, if they’re saying to young people, we’re going to spend February looking at predominantly African-American text because it’s Black History month…ask yourself,
  2. “Is that the only time that Black history is important to Black students?”
  3. “Should we do this throughout the year?

The last piece, it’s important to reach out to parents on days when it’s going well. This will give you social capital with parents. It will also allow the parents to understand that when you do call and it is not good news, that you are calling out of love. If you call only at moments when it’s going bad, they will only see you as a teacher through a lens of being a disciplinarian, not someone who loves their children.

All of those things are important because the life of those young people are in your hands.