After getting off the adjustment table at the chiropractor’s office, I began completing my exercises before leaving. As I prepared to leave, I noticed one chiropractor adjusting the other. The first doctor lay on his stomach as the second doctor began to “crack his back,” or provide spinal manipulative therapy, which is designed to relieve pressure on joints, reduce inflammation, and improve nerve function.
While I watched, I thought about the trust it takes for one doctor to allow another doctor to perform the work on them. I immediately thought about the trust it takes for parents of color to send their children to school with educators that they may or may not trust.
Students, parents, and communities of color want schools and educators to provide spaces that:
- Relieve pressures of negative and toxic stereotypes and expectations that the world thrusts upon marginalized students;
- Reduces fears of being judged and stereotyped; and
- Improves and cultivates confidence in students and the collective body of students—socially, emotionally, physically, culturally, and academically.
While this may seem like a tall order, the truth is that this is the school environment we all want our own children to attend. We want our children to be celebrated for all of who they are, so they can be their best, and reach their highest potential.
The questions parents of color really want to ask educators who teach their children and other marginalized students:
- Do you trust your colleagues to teach your children? Explain.
- Would your colleagues of color trust you to teach their children? Why or why not?
- Why should I, as a parent, trust you with my children?
- Discuss how you make your class/school a safe space for my children?
- Do you believe that my children are geniuses and have gifts and talents to offer the world? How will you nurture their genius?
- Do you care about the social, emotional, physical, cultural, and academic needs of my children? What does that look like in the classroom/school?
- How will you use your subject area as a tool to help children reach their highest potential?
- Can we, as parents and as a family, trust that you can and will manipulate the subject matter to fit the needs of my children? What does this look like in your classroom/school?
- Do you understand the culture of the children, and not just stereotypes and generalizations, well enough to use it as a bridge for learning? Give me examples of what this looks like in your class/school.
- Do you understand that engagement is the key to classroom management? Discuss what this looks like in your class/school.
- Have you learned about our communities and concerns? Discuss how you will use this knowledge in your class/school.
- Have you learned how to use the classroom and school as spaces to help my children be problem solvers and better our communities? Discuss what this looks like in your class/school.
- Do you help my children think beyond the text and apply information to life outside of the classroom? Discuss what this looks like in your class/school.
- Do you help my children think critically and be reflective of the world around them, so that they can be creators, inventors, and world change agents? Discuss what this looks like in your class/school.
- Do you continue to learn how oppression influences the school experiences of my children? Discuss what this looks like in your class/school.
- Do you love my children? Discuss what this looks like in your class/school.
- Do you love my children so much that you teach them like they are yours? Discuss what this looks like in your class/school.
- Please provide contact information for 3 or more students, parents, and educators of color who can give you a glowing recommendation for your work with communities of color and other marginalized groups.
Educators, can we trust you?