Why Your Crayons Are Fighting In The Box–How To Navigate Race Relations

Here is a general rule in America: whatever is in your community will become the compliment or conflict of your schools. From gang conflict to fatherlessness to free and reduced lunch, it may begin as a debate outside of the school but it trickles down into the local classroom pretty quick.
Right now there is great national tension over race relations, and each time an attempt is made for forward movement we appear to take an explosive move backwards. If you would like to be one of the brave souls to engage in this topic and actually make a difference, make sure to implement these five steps:

Step 1–Listen: Newsflash…you can’t listen with your mouth open, just like you can’t sneeze while swallowing. Management is often encouraged to fix problems while listening to people, so listening is a learned art for some. Also, listening is intentional. Listening makes you the receiver and not the dominant person within the conversation. Be quiet, make eye contact, ask to take notes, and engage with your body language.

Step 2–Learn…if you are intentionally listening then you will be able to learn. Learning is an active sport, and you do this with your mind while engaging with your body gestures and facial expressions. What are the words that the person is repeating? Is there a pattern to what they’ve said and what others have said? How many times have you heard this complaint? Why do they feel so passionate about what they are saying? Pay close attention to terms that are being used differently due to cultural differences.

Step 3–Communicatenow you can talk, but start with questions, acknowledgement of the topic, and end what you have to say with empathy and concern. WARNING: this is where people attempt to fix the issues rather than completing steps 4 and 5. This is a bad place for ‘soling-the-problem’, because this should be the stage for exchanging information, ideas and dialogue. Some of the most ignorant things are said by leaders because they speak from what they know (or think that they know) mixed with what they heard in order to remain the “leader with all of the answers and no problems”. For example, this is when someone says “I’m not racist! I have plenty of black friends! There are black people who live in my neighborhood!” These facts could have worked in your favor after Step 5 but now they are discredited due to the bad timing.

Step 4–Understand…this is what happens after you learn that what you heard and what you know are not the full picture. You have had time and conversation to lead you to a better opinion. You have gained respect from those on the other side of the argument, as they now trust you to listen. They may even release you to speak to others about what was said. You can tell when someone skipped this step because they speak on behalf of an issue and race, offend an entire race that they typically associate with everyday, and find themselves attacked by those same people. Had they engaged in step 4, they would have been in a much better position for the last step.

Step 5–Change…this is where most leaders want to be in the first place, but arriving too soon can lead to your doom. Some want to be here to gain the reputation of fixing difficult problems. Others want to be here in order to avoid the conflict all together by arguing that the solution is more important than the offense. After successfully completing the first 4 steps your reasons for being at this stage may have changed, and that might be better for everyone involved. By this stage you should have a much more broader and inclusive view. You should be convinced that this is only the beginning of the healing process.

Following these steps will not make you popular, but they will make you prepared. These steps will not make you terrific, but they will make you trustworthy. These steps create character and integrity for your school, classroom, church or company. If you have any questions on how to further implement these steps, feel free to contact me at www.makeitplainforme.com

6 Reasons That You’re About To Die and You Don’t Even Know It Yet (pt.3)

Reason #3: No One Signs Up For Their Class

One day a teacher noticed that even though she was teaching the same course as another teacher, that his sections were full and hers were not. This is viewed as a pretty bad thing at times because (1) some colleges pay you per course and (2) if your class doesn’t have enough students in it you won’t teach it and you won’t get paid. So if her own courses didn’t increase soon, she could be out of a paycheck. run-for-your-life-517Students didn’t like her class because that teacher had a series of bad habits that offended people. It didn’t take long for new students to notice that the sections would not gain any students until the teacher’s names were posted. And if the names were switched later, the students would switch sections to follow the other teacher. A classroom environment should have basic standards: respectability, learning, teaching, encouragement, challenge, equity, and safety. When the classroom lacks these, folks run like The Purge…and so should you…

NEXT WEEK: Reason #4 Great Person, Bad Teacher

6 Reasons That You’re About To Die and You Don’t Even Know It Yet (pt.2)

Reason #2. Rate Your Professor
Some teachers cannot stand the RateMyProfessor.com website, and they hate it when I promote it. Maybe they view me as being Tony Stark and the Superhuman Registration Act during Marvel’s Civil War. I don’t agree with fake testimonials given by poor performing students, but I do believe in student feedback. If you are mean and insensitive, then you need to know it. Dude, it’s a Speech Class! You’re supposed to build my confidence to speak in front of people, not destroy it! But when reading the ratings make sure to avoid ratings that lack details (i.e., “she’s really hard”, or “he makes you read”), and be very careful of angry posts that were made just after they received their final grades. rate my prof oakI once had a student who arrived halfway through class and slept through the other half of my class. She then asked to make up all of the work that she had missed during the entire class with just three weeks left in the semester. Without a documented excuse, all I could tell her was ‘no’. That didn’t go too well. After the final grade was posted she proceeded to post the most negative review about me that I had ever seen. So I contacted RateMyProfessor.com because a teacher can contest a bad review. Oh, you didn’t know that, did you? Yep, I provided proof that her accusations were false and they removed the negative comment. So don’t read one comment and make your final decision. Also, if the ratings are low over a consistent period of time (like two years) there might be a reason why. Anyone can have a bad semester or two but when you never do anything that raises your street cred then that might be another sign altogether.

NEXT WEEK: Reason #3 No One Is Signing Up For Their Class

6 Reasons That You’re About To Die and You Don’t Even Know It Yet

I couldn’t believe how I died. The battle had been intense on an insane level and I had used every special item that I had. Surely I saved before walking into the last cave…right?
WRONG. Like a cocky little idiot I had not saved my game before walking blindly into the last cave, nor had I buffed the status and healed the characters in my team. I had not saved my game for the last three hours and I passed up the opportunity to save just before walking into one of the worst boss battles that I had ever experienced in a video game. I was a fool.
Unfortunately, thousands of students returned to school this Fall and walked into a class that was just like my “cave experience”. If they ignored the signs that said that this class is more than some simple grade booster, then they will be in for a rude awakening. Just as I overlooked the trademark signs in any RPG video game that clues you in that a major boss battle is about to take place, here are a few simple signs that says that maybe you should be a bit more prepared for what lies ahead in this class:

Reason #1. Pay attention to the reaction that you get when others hear the name of your teacher
I took a guy for biochemistry several years ago, and when I say his name babies cry while dogs howl. If you get a horror movie reaction from people when you say the name of the teacher, you already know what to expect. Trust me, no teacher really wants to spill the beans on a co-worker. I work with alot of good teachers within my department, so I rarely run into this issue. However, the folks that I work with are uncharacteristically honest about peer feedback. If you are at a school that doesn’t have this kind of atmosphere then they will lie about the demon spawn that is waiting by the chalkboard down the hall just to save face. Beware

NEXT WEEK: Reason #2, Rate My Professor Please