Ways to be a Teacher Against Racism

What can you do as a teacher to welcome diversity into your classroom? How can you help stop the fight against racism in your classroom and your home?

I used to think we needed to be "color blind" in order to accept all races, but over the past few years I've been learning, by listening to Black voices and POC (people of color), that isn't the case and is actually hurtful instead. Let's embrace race together and learn how to talk to our students about race, racism, and how we can be the change together.

Here's some resources by Black educators and leaders to help you get started.

Talk About Race

Call racism by name. Don't be afraid to teach kids about it. This video from Vera at The Tutu Teacher was created for her Kindergarten students and is great for younger students as well as many lower functioning students.


Social Story for Police Interactions

While we work toward change, we can't ignore that racial bias is something we have to consider and prepare our Black students for. Especially on how to interact with police so that they stay safe. This social story by Spectrum Support is a great starting point.

Download on TpT here and get the toolkit here with additional stories like why are they protesting.

Also, check out her instagram post for suggestions on how to personalize social stories for your specific students.

Revised Post : Nearly one in three #actuallyautistic people has #intellectualdisability. If your child has intellectual disabilities this may make it much more difficult to explain how to interact with law enforcement. This is just an example of how you can compose a simple social story for children that may have difficulty understanding the complex and unjust preparedness we must have when you are #blackandautistic and the police stop you. You can download the social story on teacherpayteachers for free . https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/If-The-Police-Stop-Me-A-Social-Story-5649346 *Teach preparedness NOT fear. *make it personal, mention how to cope with specific triggers ( I don’t like being touched but I must remain calm if the police need to go in my pockets ),the name of the family member/ advocate, specific interests or behaviors they are prone to and may not perceive as problematic ( i.e. I love dogs but I must not touch police dogs ; I love to hug people but I must not hug police officers ). *Buy a strap for outdoor use of AAC devices so in situations such encounters with law enforcement this their hands remain free. *Use real pictures !Take picture of their actual card, wallet, their advocate /family member , them using their coping strategies to use visuals for the story. *Practice scenarios. *Read the story as reminder before they go anywhere where this may become a reality.#actuallyautistic #blacklivesmatter #blackandautistic #autismsupport#autismadvocate#autismscceptance #autismom#autismdad#autismparent#nonverbal #nonvocal #intellectualdisabilities #stimmingxlambert
A post shared by Joy F. Johnson, M.Ed, M.S. (@joyfjohnson) on

Start the Discussion at Home

It's summer now for many teachers and you might not be teaching. But now is the perfect time to be learning and growing with your family. LaNesha from Teaching with an Apron and Naomi from Read Like a Rock Star have put out an Anti-racist guide.

They say "Remember this: Your kids are exposed to racism all of the time, whether or not you’ve ever labeled it for them. They see unfair things happening and they hear racist comments. Giving them the tools and vocabulary they need to recognize it and speak up about it will help them feel empowered to be a part of the solution and show a Black friend, stranger, or classmate that they can depend on your child to be an *ally." 

Read more and purchase the guide for your family (not your classroom) here. A kind reminder, if you have any questions, read the blog post and listen to their video on IGTV. They have likely already answered, so don't message them during this busy time. Do the research yourself :)

Looking for more ways to learn?

I highly recommend following and listening to @ohhappydani on Instagram. Her 3 part video series was so helpful for me to listen and learn from.

She is a Christian, and I appreciate her faith based background and encouragement, but even if that's not your thing, her message is for everyone who is trying to know better and do better.

Add to your Classroom Library

Check out this page at Diverse Books for book recommendations and a list of Black-owned bookstores to support. You will find tons of resources to organizations and books lists on their page as well!

Specifically looking for children's books? Check out these 31 recommendations from Embrace Race here.

Need symbol supported books? I have symbols for these two books featuring POC written by POC that you can find here: I Like Myself and B is the Breathe - check out those links to get the books and the symbols to add to your classroom library. I'm also open to requests! If there is a book that you would like to adapt for your classroom let me know and I'll help if I can :)

What are you doing?

What I am doing here at Breezy Special Ed is to make sure all races are included in my resources. This includes continuing to change skin colors to represent all shades when using Widgit programs (see how here), using diverse clipart in my resources, and continuing to adapt books from POC.

I am also going back to revisit my all about me resources to make sure I include skin color because our skin is an important part about us!

What I am doing personally is following Black voices on social media so that I can continue to learn from their experiences and tackle my own biases.

I'm talking to my own children about race and how God made us all unique and that is something to be celebrated. I purchased the book ColorFull and I can't wait for it to arrive! I'm planning on being intentional about purchasing and checking out library books that feature black kids written by black authors. I'm also purchased cultural crayons and will encourage to use all skin colors when coloring people.

I mention those things I am specifically doing in order to encourage you. Maybe you can also do some of those same things and maybe you are already doing more. You don't have to be perfect, you just need to start. Racism sadly is much more of an issue that I liked to think (as I mentioned before about being "color blind") and this week of focusing on #blacklivesmatter and listening to POC has been really eye opening to me and I pray for change in this country. 

Teachers are essential in the fight against racism

As a teacher, you have a big impact on your students and the future of our country. Thank you for being brave and being a part of the change.

Please leave more suggestions and accounts to follow in the comments!

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