Teachers, Our Black Students Need to Hear From Us Right Now


Teachers, We Need to Reach Out to Our Black Students

Teachers, we need to reach out to our Black students. Yes, I know it’s summer and we don’t technically have any students right now. However, the school year just ended and we’re still fresh in their minds. Our words still have power. We were a safe place for many students. That security first got turned upside down by Covid-19. Now they’re seeing violence on the news. Our Black students are likely feeling particularly confused and scared hearing about and seeing videos of police brutality. So let’s take a few minutes to send out some encouraging words. 

Why reach out to Black students?

The murder of George Floyd put a spotlight not only on police brutality but on the racism and discrimination Black people deal with daily in the United States. As people of all races join together to protest injustice and rally for Black Lives Matter, it’s clear there’s much work to do. Our Black students are watching, hearing, and feeling this conflict. Here’s why they need to hear from their teachers.

1. They need to hear their lives matter!

Black students face discrimination because of the color of their skin every day. People are holding signs saying, “Black lives matter!” now, but the injustices Black people face in the United States say something different. We need to let our students know they matter, they are important, and we’re in their corner. 

2. They trust us.

Hopefully, we’ve built trust with our students. Our voices mean something to them. When we tell them they’re smart, funny, talented, kind, and capable of doing great things it will ring true inside them.

3. We have a connection.

Supportive adults who aren’t their parents are so important for kids. Parents are supposed to say they’re great. It means more from a teacher, especially, now that the school year is over and we’re “former” teachers. Keeping that connection going with a little text, note, or email might make a huge difference. In twenty years, you might be the one getting a note that says, “You reached out to me during the Black Lives Matter movement. It meant the world to me and helped me through a really hard time.”

4. Racism is trauma.

If we knew a recent student was dealing with a traumatic situation, most of us would reach out to let them know we’re thinking of them and we care. The American Academy of Pediatrics has declared racism trauma with a significant impact on child and adolescent health.

5. It’s the right thing to do.

We’re good people. Kids we know are hurting. Why wouldn’t we reach out?

What do we say?

It doesn’t have to be long or complicated. It could be as simple as:

Dear Connor,

I really miss seeing your face at school. You always kept me on my toes with your interesting questions. I hope you’re making time to practice your violin this summer.


I know the world might seem scary and confusing. I want you to know you matter. You’re important. I am so glad I got to know you. You’re smart, funny, thoughtful, and talented. I believe in you and know you have what it takes to go far in life.


I’m in your corner cheering you on.

Love,

Mrs. Moshman

Why should teachers speak out against racism?

Reaching out to our Black students isn’t enough. We must also stand up against racism. 

Merchon Green is the Chairperson of the Equity Committee for School District of Indian River County, Florida. She is also the Founder of Pioneering Change, Inc., a nonprofit aimed to unify the community and give citizens a voice. She says, “Teachers can’t stay silent about racism because they are to educate children of ALL races in an environment that is conducive to learning. That environment should be a positive environment that promotes diversity and inclusion. By speaking out against racism, they acknowledge that it is WRONG, as well as, show their black and minority students, that they are valued. This subconsciously makes them feel like they are protected and have a rightful place in this world.”

There’s more to being a teacher than teaching reading and math. We have a responsibility to help all our students feel safe, supported, and valued. Children can’t learn without that security. We play an important role in our students’ lives, even if they don’t show it. Reaching out to recent and former Black students won’t take much effort from us but could give them a sense of being seen and provide comfort and support.

ALSO CHECK OUT:

Teachers, We Need to Reach Out to Our Black Students

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Rachael Moshman
Rachael Moshman, M.Ed. is a mom, educator, writer, and advocate for self-confidence. She’s been a teacher in classrooms of infants through adult college students. She loves pizza, Netflix and yoga.
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