Read what some of our educators have to say about the influence of having someone who looks like you reflected in front of the classroom and the impact of learning from someone who doesn’t.
Representation matters in the classroom and this February we asked educators across the KIPP network to share with us their thoughts on the “power of the mirror.” Read what some of our educators have to say about the influence of having someone who looks like you reflected in front of the classroom and the impact of learning from someone who doesn’t.
Candice Allen – Founding Special Education Teacher, KIPP Soul Academy – KIPP Metro Atlanta
Growing up as a person of color, my teachers promoted the conversation of Black Excellence. I viewed every teacher that has crossed my path as a leader, a pillar in the community, and a force to be reckoned with. These educators boasted with pride, integrity, and motivation. It was admirable to be an educator of color, taking care of the youth within our community. As a child, I never thought of becoming a teacher, although I grew up in a home with a teacher “who did NOT play about education!”
Reflecting on my educational journey, I was privileged to have encountered all Black educators and professors up until I graduated from my lovely HBCU in Savannah, Georgia. I saw me inside of each educator I encountered.
Self-reflection presented the opportunity for me to ask myself, “What is the power of the mirror?” Are educators of color readily available? Are male educators of color depicted? What is Georgia’s representation for educators? As an educator in Georgia, it does not surprise me that Black educators only make up 25% of the educational workforce. I pose a question, “How can the mirror have power with a different reflection?”
As a mirror for my students, my daughter, my family, and society, I say to the masses we need more representation of color in education! Our children need to see that we love them and care about their educational welfare. We need to set norms for our leaders of tomorrow to follow! Representation shapes our youth for society and all it has to offer.
Ask yourself, “Am I a mirror?” If so, what am I reflecting?
Shaquila Horne – 2nd Grade Lead Teacher, KIPP Columbus Elementary – KIPP Columbus
The biggest impact having an educator that looks like you in the classroom is seeing a direct reflection of self. For me personally, being a black woman teaching 2nd grade gives my students a mother figure and someone that they can trust. I found over the years that my students build trust quickly and understand that I love them which often changes their behavior.
In my 4 years of teaching, I have been blessed to have continued relationships with my students and families outside of the classroom. Helping families find housing, jobs and resources has been a big impact on my contribution to my local community. Learning from someone that becomes the reflection of who you are and who you will be. Students begin to understand that the opportunities are limitless.
Monica Reed – 6th Grade Lead Teacher African American Culture, KIPP Inspire Academy – KIPP St. Louis
I think I find myself in a very unique position, as a teacher, a teacher of color with very little melanin in my skin tone. If I could be honest, I often thought I would not have the same impact with our students of color, almost fearful that I would have an adverse effect, because I didn’t really look like them. I found just the contrary. I learned, from my kids it was because of my teaching style, that I was a great way to bridge the gap and blur the color line for all students.
Christina Khoon – 5th Grade Humanities Teacher, KIPP Sol Academy – KIPP SoCal
This was a slide I created at the beginning of our Filipinx American History Month celebration at school. I wanted to remind my students of the power of learning about the history and culture of others, especially because we can find similarities that make us feel connected to one another.
As someone who does not share the same cultural background as my students, it is meaningful that I practice culturally responsive teaching practices for an equitable education for all learners of different cultures. As much as students learn from me, I can also learn from them. We have open discussions about family, history, language, and so much more. We incorporate these essential aspects of our identities into our daily learning activities so that we may broaden our perspectives.
I encourage my students to learn about themselves and their history, but also challenge them to look through the window and be critically conscious of the diverse world we live in.