Monday, April 30, 2012

50 Tips for Educating Boys of Color

Last week I attended the COSEBOC (The Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color, gathering at NC Central University.  It was an amazing conference and a great opportunity to hear some of the experts in this field speak on this topic.

I heard a variety of keynote speakers, and also attended a number of breakout sessions.  Some of the presenters were Ron Walker of COSEBOC, N.Y. U. Professor Pedro Noguera (@PedroANoguera), and Mr. Sean Vann (Principal) and Mr. Michael Carruthers, (Instructor), from Frederick Douglass College Preparatory Academy for Young Men.  I was unable to find all of the names on the conference website.

During the conference I took notes on the tips that I thought would be helpful to teachers and schools. These tips are based off of the professional experiences and/or research of the speakers. My list came out longer than expected! I hope that some of the ideas below will help you to support the boys of color at your school.

50 Tips for Teaching Boys of Color

1.  Build strong relationships with these students.
2. Provide them with some one-on-one learning time.
3. Incorporate technology into teaching and learning.
4. Use PBL, or Project-Based Learning.
5. Maintain high expectations.
6. Expose them to peers who are excelling, and to other positive role models.
7. Give students time to talk about their goals.
8. Celebrate successes, big or small!
9. Try using commitment contracts.
10. Make school relevant to them.
11. Good school leadership is important.
12. Your curriculum needs to be strong.
13. Engage them!
14. Give them ownership of their learning.
15. Don’t confuse low skills with being unintelligent.
16. Help them to form a positive identity, and have pride in who they are.
17. Be mastery and outcome focused.
18. Have a tight accountability structure.
19. Have clear expectations.
20. Teach study skills and organization.
21. Meet students where they are.
22. Use individualized learning plans and/or differentiation.
23. Show students what excellent work looks like. Provide them models of other students’ work so that they understand the expectation.
24. The school and teachers need to be responsive to student needs. Teachers need to be able to answer the question, “What does it take to educate the students we serve?”
25. Two key qualities of successful schools are the emotional and physical safety of students.
26. Teach standards for college and career readiness.
27. Schools need to build partnerships with local universities and businesses.
28. Incorporate career readiness opportunities into your classes (students shadow people in the work force for fields they are interested in, field trips, internships, summer jobs with local businesses, etc.)
29. Have mentorship programs (with teachers, local university or college students, volunteers, older students with younger students, etc.). Mentors help boys to make a plan for their future, and get on them when they get off track. (Connect boys with mentors BEFORE they get into academic or behavioral trouble, not after.)
30. Educate students about their history and culture. Teachers need to be knowledgeable about black and Latino history and teach it in their classes.
31. Put boys of color in classes with experienced, and highly effective teachers with extensive knowledge of culturally proficient teaching. Good intentions are not enough, teachers need to be trained and know what they are doing when teaching these young men. (Boys of color are are 2-3 times more likely to have first, or second year teachers).
32. Watch for early warning signs for dropping out (ABCs: A-Attendance, B-Behavior, and C-Course Performance.)
33. Success can require a total change in school culture where all faculty and staff are working to help these boys be successful. Requires genuine teacher buy-in.
34. Offer technology help and support to parents.
35. Give students a voice at school (student council, debate team, written evaluations of all teachers, etc.)
36.  Boys of color failing has become normalized. We need to change this norm!
37. Look at the underlying causes of why boys are not succeeding, not just at the symptoms. We need to go deeper.
38. Understand the world through their eyes, and put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes their motivation is survival. They may be looking for a way to support themselves and/or their families.
39. Give boys a choice in literature (they are not necessarily going to like reading about stereotypically “male” topics).
40. Use discipline to build character and personal responsibility.
41. Use preventative as opposed to punitive strategies.
42. Teach students code switching (code of the streets vs. code of school and jobs). This is not about denying them their culture, but about empowering them.
43. Deliberately challenge stereotypes by exposing students to activities outside their normal experiences (chess club, etc.)
44. Give students leadership opportunities.
45. Make schools welcoming to minority parents.
46.  Commit to hire black and Latino males in professional roles.
47. Provide students with opportunities for community service.
48. Channel energy in a positive way (don’t crush it).
49. Teach boys to understand their emotional side, and how to deal with anger.
50. Believe in them!

Here is a video from last year's gathering:

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