This week thousands of educators from across the country have gathered in Dallas for the Teacher Leadership Development (TLD) Summit. Among the many lively discussions include sessions dedicated to Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) and how it impacts our students. Please join @OneDayAllKids for a Twitter chat on Wednesday, January 28, from 8:00 to 9:00 pm ET to learn more about CRT. Follow #CRTchat to join the conversation.
21 years old. I was scared to death. I had no idea what I was doing.
And when I received my school placement I was terrified: 6th grade. Henderson Elementary School.
I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. But not in Englewood.
At the time, what I knew about Englewood was limited to the negative media coverage I’d seen. Someone always seemed to be getting shot, robbed or arrested for drugs.
Dirty broken desks, engraved with expletives were piled in the center of my room. Raggedy textbooks stacked along the wall. An American flag hung in the corner.
I couldn't breathe.
I stepped back into the hall and looked at my roster. 33 kids. All subjects.
My heart ached. I had to be better and do better.
But my room was a disaster and I didn't have any books.
I went to my principal and he calmly replied, "I don't care what you do with them, just don't send them down here."
It turns out having no curricular resources coupled with full autonomy from my principal was the best thing that could have ever happen to us. After meeting my students, I began to see that what they needed could not be found in a textbook or curriculum. At the time, I didn't know anything about culturally responsive teaching (CRT).
I was simply learning from and about my kids, and trying to give them experiences that would lift them up (validate, affirm), enlighten them (empower, transform) and expose them to the possibilities that existed outside of Englewood. I believe that education is the great equalizer and key to social mobility. I quickly recognized my kids didn't know who they truly were or from where they came, so they didn't understand how great they could be.