In a recent article, a local Baltimore resident has concluded that discipline inequality is a symptom of racism in schools. The author, like many others, provides a glimpse of the problem without a viable solution. Schools can eliminate racism in schools by providing teachers with a tool to monitor classroom discipline which avoids the characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization. According to the article, Suspensions are the Symptom, racism is the cause, Maryland’s statewide suspension data reveals that the suspension rate for Black males is twice that of White males. Even more alarming, Black females are suspended four times more than White females. Many of the suspensions are for minor infractions such as truancy, dress code violations, disrespect, insubordination, and defiance.
What organizational characteristics make it difficult to confront teachers regarding racism in schools?
The organizational characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization make it difficult to confront teacher regarding racism in schools. There are five different levels that contribute to a dysfunctional organization. The foundation for the dysfunctional organization begins with each person’s use of defense mechanisms for coping. Defense mechanisms are the unwritten rules an individual learns and utilizes to effectively deal with circumstances that are upsetting, embarrassing, or threatening.
The second level is skilled incompetence, which is the outcome of the defense mechanisms we have internalized. When the defensive behaviors we’ve learned are transformed into a learned behavior, that behavior becomes a skill – albeit an incompetent skill – that we consider necessary in order to deal with issues that are embarrassing, threatening, or upsetting. A skill that is learned from the regular application of a defense mechanism has a high degree of incompetence embedded within it, because we are unaware of how this skill will impact our future.
Skilled incompetence transforms into a defensive routine. Defensive routines are the third level. When the skilled incompetence is automatically exhibited at all times, the behavior is now a defensive routine.
Defensive routines lead to fancy footwork. Fancy footwork is the fourth level. Fancy footwork happens when individuals try to deny the behavioral inconsistencies they exhibit, or else they place blame on other people, which results in distancing themselves from taking responsibility for their behavioral inconsistencies.
Fancy footwork leads to organizational malaise. Organizational malaise is the final level. During this phase the individuals in the organization will seek to find fault within the organization rather than accept responsibility for their actions and correct their behavior accordingly. The individual continues the process by accentuating the negative and deemphasizing the positive in an effort to cover up their actions. The organizational malaise is further exacerbated by a refusal of one or all the members to discuss their area of responsibility.
How can teachers avoid the stigma associated with racism in schools?
Teachers can avoid the stigma associated with racism in schools by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships. Positive relationships at schools and in the classroom are in many ways the prerequisites for effective learning and behavior. Students and teachers who are warm, compassionate, and friendly toward one another in the classroom have the potential to improve instruction and learning.
Developing positive relationships with students provides benefits for schools, teachers, and students. Having positive and caring relationships in schools increases resilience and protects children from academic failure, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and destructive behavior and violence. Long-term teacher-student relationships result in increased teacher job satisfaction. Teachers who have positive feelings toward their students are more likely to have students reciprocate those positive feelings. Teachers who develop positive and personal relationships with students may prevent psychological development problems in their students. Students are more willing to develop positive relationships with teachers who tend to form close friendships with their students.
Quality teacher-student interactions are one of the most important variables that influence student achievement in the classroom. Teacher-student interactions are at the very heart of the educational process in schools. It is expected that teacher-student interactions has a significant impact on student achievement.
Minority students have beliefs regarding student achievement and teacher-student relationships. Many Black students believe their academic achievement increases when they have positive relationships with teachers. Black students also believe that increases in positive feelings affect academic achievement when teachers become responsive to the students’ personal lives. Conversely, Black students believe that their poor academic performance results from teachers who lack concern for them and engage in negative gossip regarding students.
The interpersonal relationship between students and teachers has a profound impact on instructional activities and outcomes. Teachers respond to their favorite students by creating a warmer and more positive classroom atmosphere, providing superior feedback on how they are performing, teach challenging material, and increase opportunities to respond to questions.
Positive racial teacher student classroom relationships can reduce school discipline. Warm relationships between teachers and students motivate students to meet teachers’ requests for compliance. Expressing warmth toward minority students without accompanying the friendliness with challenging academic standards is just as debilitating to students as expressing overt hostility. Student noncompliance with teacher requests can produce a negative teacher-student classroom relationship.
In conclusion, teachers can use the Raccelerate Racism Formula to monitor classroom discipline to ensure that they are not accused as a facilitator of racism in schools.
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