Today, I took part in a student panel for new teachers in the school district. Me and another girl that goes to my school participated in the panel. We arrived at around 4:50 and the panel started at 5:00. There were several new teachers that took part in it, who were shown statistics of grades based off of race, gender, and more. Next, we (the 2 students) were asked to respond to the following questions:
- What helps you feel connected to teachers and school? Please give examples.
- What makes it hard to feel connected to teachers and school? Please give examples.
- What kind of expectations do your teachers have for you? How do you know?
- How can teachers best support you and be an ally to you in relation to issues of oppression and equity, especially when they don’t share the same identities , i.e a white teacher supporting a student of color?
- How would you like teachers to respond when someone says something offensive in class or makes a joke that reinforces negative stereotypes ( for example, makes a joke about immigration, someone’s accent, or refers to Read 180 as “Mexican English”?) What are the best responses you’ve seen from teachers?
- What other advice would you give to teachers who want to create equitable learning environments?
The purpose of us answering these questions was to give the teacher’s a student’s prospective on these kind of issues. Some things I talked about in my responses were:
- Some teachers expect us to have no life outside of school, and they don’t understand when we are having a rough time emotionally, and its hard to be “present” in class.
- When teachers laugh along with offensive jokes, it makes the classroom feel like an unsafe space.
- Teachers tend to have higher expectations for white students. Which is pretty much flat out racist.
- When someone says something offensive, I would prefer the teacher to stop the class and directly talk about why the comment was rude or disrespectful.
- I have had teachers call a friend of mine, who is transgender, an “it” when she identifies as female. So ignorant, rude, and unprofessional.
- It helps when teachers are educated and informed about issues of oppression.
- I wish teachers understood that everyone learns differently.
The panel was a really powerful expirience! I’m glad I got to get my voice heard! I will be attending another one in about 2 weeks! I’ll keep ya’ll updated! What would you respond with if you were asked these questions? Comment below and let me know (: