Closing the Attitude
Gap – Chapter 6
This week we are going to dive into the final chapter of “Closing
the Attitude Gap” titled, Relevance in Instruction, Do I Realize Who
My Students Are?
beginning Chapter 6, look into a mirror and ask yourself the following questions
about your students:
I realize who my students are?
my students realize who they are?
I think it’s important for my students to learn “their story”?
my students think it’s important to learn “their story”?
I have responsibility to teach my students “their story”?
my students have a responsibility to learn “their story”?
my lessons take “their story” into consideration?
my students identify with and relate to what I teach them?
knowing “their story” affect the way my students see themselves?
knowing “their story” affect the way I see my students?
of the many things I have learned from listening to and speaking with Principal
Kafele is that I am personally disconnected from the history many of our
students have been raised in. Specifically, he shares experiences travelling
from city to city and stopping at historical sites such as the Edmund PettusBridge
in Selma, Alabama and Little Rock Central High School
in Little Rock,
Arkansas. Do you know what historical events happened at each location?
learning about both of these events, you are developing a deeper understanding
of some of our students’ story. With these two specific examples, and sharing
other examples relevant to our students, they begin to view themselves differently
and see themselves as a descendant of greatness, which compels them to see
themselves in a positive light.
of our students, majority or minority do not know themselves fully because they
do not know their history. Couple this with the fact that a large percentage of
educators do not know their students’ history (myself included) and you have a
recipe for disaster in the classroom (Howard, 2006).
of the number of professional development hours a teacher accumulates, students
will not begin to truly soar until they can answer the question, “Who Am I?”
Principal Kafele shares his belief that, “the academic problems associated with
minority students have little to do with their ability to read, write or do
math. It is my contention that these children are brilliant and most highly
capable, just like anyone else. I am convinced that when give the opportunity to
learn in learning environments that are conducive to them having the will to
strive for excellence, they will do just that.”
Principal Kafele’s book, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in
Life, in 2009 he focuses on black males and their struggle to answer the
question “Who Am I?” relative to their
history and culture. Knowing who they are in history increases the probability
that students will develop a deeper sense of purpose for their lives; it gives
their existence in the world greater meaning whey they know about those who
struggled so that they could have the opportunities that they have now.
difficult for students to answer the question “Who Am I?” if his teacher is not
in a position to answer the related question “Do I realize who my students are?”
Tens of thousands of educators across the country do not realize who black and Latino children are
historically , because we, just like the students were not adequately educated
about their history. (Singleton & Linton 2006)
Realizing Who Your Students Are
student at Sigler has a story. Do you know the stories that exist in your
classroom? Their stories define who they are as individuals. By learning their
story you are learning about them. Their stories are those life experiences
that have shaped them into who they are today.
addition to their unique story, they are part of a bigger story. Each of them
belongs to a racial or ethnic group, the history of which also serves to define
each student. It is imperative that we familiarize ourselves with who our
students are historically. It is a must that you learn their collective
stories, which can clarify the reasons for the life challenges that so many of
our students face on a daily basis at Sigler. When students are disconnected
from who they are historically, they risk gravitating to anyone who looks like them,
regardless of how destructive their behaviors may be, simply because they are
offered no alternative role models who share their race or ethnicity. In order
to alleviate this challenge, you must learn your students’ stories and teach
the stories to them.
that said, this week’s Twitter Task, for those who choose to participate is, “Tweet
one thing that can be used to teach our students about their history”. Do not
forget to include the hashtag #siglerlearns.