In the recent Charleston shooting, lone shooter Dylann Roof is responsible for murdering nine Black people which may have repercussions in schools that open next fall. The tone for the entire school year is set in September when school begins. Schools will need to respond to the Charleston shooting by ensuring that all students feel safe.
In the minds of many historically underserved students, the Charleston shooting could validate the perceptions that students have regarding their teachers. Without a weapon, Dylann Roof would have never had the power to alter the lives of nine Blacks.
Teachers also have the power to alter the lives of the children that they serve. In some cases, this legitimized power has resulted in the downfall of many minority students. Over time, minority families have developed perceptions of White teachers which influences the behavior of the students.
What are some of the causes of student perceptions that could impact the upcoming school year due to the Charleston shooting?
Black and Hispanic Student Beliefs and Perceptions
When incorporating students into a marginalized society by slavery, conquest, and colonization, students believe school is detrimental to their identity. Indians, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Blacks share the same experience of having been brought into the United States unwillingly and then demoted to subordinate status. Many Blacks who have had this experience as part of their historical past are not willing to perform well in school due to difficulty with crossing cultural lines. Blacks have learned since slavery that the way to get ahead is not through merit and talent but through White benefaction. Americans of color are forced to adapt to a society that does not value their ethnicity, history, heritage, or language by establishing societal survival strategies.
Black parents prepare their children to live in a dual cultural world that involves helping them to develop skills for adult roles such as wage earners and parenthood in addition to negotiating a dominant society that has different cultural values and judges’ people by their skin color or ethnic background. Blacks who live in an urban society and a society that dislikes them for the color of their skin ensure they do not become victims by approaching people with caution, wariness, and a sense of distrust. Since Blacks were victimized in the Charleston shooting, as well as others, students may find it necessary to approach teachers in the same manner.
Many Black and Latino urban high school students believe their underachievement results when they perceive racism and discrimination toward them and become limited by American society. High school Latino students believe school is confusing and punishing, which results in their failure at school. Black adolescents believe school is a hostile place and teachers are oppression agents. White teachers symbolize the racism Black students have endured throughout their entire lives.
Student perceptions and feelings regarding teachers and themselves influence student achievement. Students do better in school when they believe getting a good education will increase their chances for success. Students who perceive that teachers have favorable feelings toward them have higher achievement levels when teachers have positive views toward them. Children who have positive feelings regarding teachers have higher achievement levels.
What are some of the strategies that White teachers can utilize to ensure that there are minimal repercussions as a result of the Charleston shooting?
- Begin the school year by having students define expectations and developing rules and consequences for both positive and negative behavior.
- Teachers will need to use the Raccelerate Racism Formula to ensure that they remain within the disciplinary guidelines outlined by the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights
- Teachers and the school should create a student positive image campaign with the input and involvement of students of color.
Finally, as a result of the Charleston shooting, teachers should promote positive racial teacher student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships).
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 and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President