As times has elapsed, the grand jury in Ferguson will make a decision regarding whether Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old White police officer, should stand trail for the death of Black teenager Michael Brown which will ultimately have an impact on the Ferguson Public Schools.
Tensions between the local police department and the community continue to rise and there is an expected reaction from the community. The Missouri Governor has stated that his state is ready to step up its law enforcement presence in the St. Louis suburb. The Ferguson community has responded by purchasing additional guns. Owners are increasing security by fortifying their stores in case the grand jury verdict is not accepted by the community.
The grand jury verdict regarding the Michael Brown shooting will also have and impact on the Ferguson Public Schools. If the grand jury decides to indict Darren Wilson, teachers can anticipate anguish from the White community. This anguish will find its way into your classroom. You will find that White students who have parents who disagree with the Darren Wilson indictment will express that same position in your classroom. This will cause students fights and possible bullying with students who agree with a Darren Wilson indictment.
Recommendation #1: For student fights that result from the grand jury decision of the Michael Brown shooting, report both the instigator and the perpetrator. It takes two people to fight. One is the instigator and one is the perpetrator. Establish with all of your students that this is a very difficult time for the Ferguson Public Schools and it’s community and any student that starts a fight will receive the same consequence for the person that they fought. This way no parent, whether White or Black can say that you as a teacher or the school district are racist.
If the grand jury verdict frees Darren Wilson for the Michael Brown shooting there is an anticipated response from the community and civil rights leaders. Many people believe that their will be looting and violence throughout the community. Many Black parents will express their discontent with the verdict and Black students will also express this discontent. If there are any students fights follow Recommendation #1.
Additionally, many Black students may associate their White teachers with the Ferguson Police and the other challenges associated with the Michael Brown shooting. It may seem that the Black students are acting out and making it a challenge for you in the classroom. Here are a few tips about Black student verbal and nonverbal behaviors.
- Do not be offended. Out of respect, Black students are taught not to make direct eye contact with an adult. Don’t be offended if the Black student does not give you direct eye contact.
- Evaluate Black student listening techniques. When a Black student is excited about what they have heard, they ask you to repeat it to determine if you are sincere or telling the truth. They are now listening for tone.
- Evaluate Black student debating techniques. When Black students debate, not only do they debate the idea, they also debate the person. So don’t take their debating techniques personally as most White teachers have done in the past.
- Keep your cool. One way that Black students will attempt to rise to leadership in front of their peers is to make the teacher lose their cool. Actually, when you do not lose your cool in front of Black students you maintain your established leadership and authority in the class. Otherwise, all of the students will know how to push your buttons.
Now that you know how to deal with the students, you will have to prepare for the worst which is the closing of the Ferguson Public Schools as a result of the Michael Brown shooting.
Recommendation #2: Prepare homework and classroom assignments for three weeks in advance. Apprise the parents of your students that you are setting up an email account and any students who are looking for classwork and homework can contact you through this email. For extended, time out of school, you can do mini-lessons, post them on YouTube, and if there are any student questions you can answer them via email. Parents and students will appreciate your efforts that will help them continue to achieve in your classroom in their absence due to the grad jury verdict of the Michael Brown shooting.
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
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President