In a recent incident, two Ferguson police officers were shoot by an unknown assailant which will have a direct impact on the Ferguson Public Schools. The officers were seriously injured but the injuries are not life threatening. Ferguson Public School teachers should use this opportunity to enhance the relationships with their students.
According to the Washington Post, the officers were shot at the end of a day that, hours earlier, had appeared to herald progress in Ferguson. Police Chief Thomas Jackson, whose force had been castigated by Justice Department investigators for unfairly targeting black residents, had agreed to step down. His departure had been a key demand of the protest movement that sprang up last summer, after a white Ferguson officer shot and killed an unarmed black 18-year-old, Michael Brown.
But after midnight, somebody opened fire from a hilltop, shooting out of the darkness over a small crowd of demonstrators and into a line of officers outside the Ferguson Police Department. Then the shooter disappeared.
This incident will have an impact on Ferguson Public Schools for a number of reasons. First, the incident will impact student relationships. Some students will side with the police and other students will side with the unknown assailant. As students voice their opinion it will cause friction between the students. This will cause fights in the Ferguson Public School which may begin in the classroom.
Secondly, there could be an increase in the number of bullying incidents. The result could be coined as racist bullying. Racist Bullying is treating someone differently, or an offensive action against a person simply because of their skin color, culture, religion, nationality or ethnic origin. Since the majority Ferguson Public School student population is Black, there is a high probability that Black students will bully the White students. It is the job of educators to eliminate bullying in schools which may make Black students resent White teachers.
Studies on bullying indicate that 15 to 25% of U.S. students are bullied frequently. What’s shocking is that both bullies and their targets suffer from the practice. Students who bully have a higher chance of dropping out of school, abusing substances and committing crimes than others. On the flipside, up to 160,000 targets of bullies skip school annually to avoid abuse.
Thirdly, it may impact the interactions between White teachers and Black students. Because the relationship between a teacher is power over in favor on the teacher, students may correlate the same power that the police have with the same power that the teacher possesses. This will cause confrontations between White teachers and Black students.
The parents of many of the Black students may agree with their children and deem the White Ferguson Public School teachers as racist just as the deem the Ferguson Police as racist. This will hamper the efforts of classroom management for the teacher. The opportunity that the Ferguson Public School teacher is that of a hero.
Ferguson Public School teachers should develop and implement the following lesson plan.
Develop an open-ended rubric that has a focus on writing, grammar, and presentation skills. The focus on the lesson is for students to recommend strategies for avoiding the consequences associate with the police shooting.
- Introduce the lesson plan in the following fashion: “I know that many of you have heard about the police shooting. As your teacher, I am here to protect your future.” School work that is relevant to present time or future time motivates Blacks while they prefer to focus on present time rather than future time and value people focus over time focus.
- Divide the students in groups of four. Divide the students into groups because Black and Hispanic students work better in a group. Blacks prefer to work in groups and socially interactive environments. Black students do well when the teacher incorporates a socialization learning model and will work together to benefit the entire group.
- Make the culminating activity a PowerPoint presentation. Black students excel at PowerPoint presentations. Blacks do well on tasks that require auditory sensory involvement but have challenges when tasks require visual perception.
Most important for the Ferguson Public School teacher is not to voice your opinion of their thoughts on the police shooting. Positive teacher-student relationships include the absence of negative interactions. Negative criticism, embarrassment, and humiliation are the most frequent acts that damage teacher-student relationships. The barriers to developing positive relationships with students also include (a) assuming how a student responds, thinks, and feels, (b) not allowing students to discover their own explanations and solutions, (c) bossing or telling a student what needs to be done and how it should be done, (d) criticizing students by pointing out what the students did not do right, and (e) pointing out to students that they should behave, think, and feel as adults. Effective teaching techniques may lose some of their impact when positive teacher-student relationships are lacking.
Using the above described lesson format will enable Ferguson Public School teachers to continue to develop positive relationships with all students.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
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~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President