Validating Students of Color: 22 Days of Anti-Racist Resources for Teachers
Welcome to day one of “It’s Time to Talk Racism: 22 Days of Anti-Racist Resources for Teachers“.
A free download at the bottom of this post will help you get to know your students, too!
Today, guest blogger Stephanie Reyna, an elementary school counselor, will share her reflections and next steps for getting to know students in order to show that they are valued.
A challenge to do better: A school counselor’s reflections on how to validate students of color
Who am I?
My name is Stephanie Reyna, pronouns she/her/hers. I am a school counselor in Texas, and I have my own family of four.
I have lived in Texas most of my life and consider El Paso, TX to be my home.
Most importantly, that is where my famous sister-in-law lives, also one of my closest friends. Chrissy, of course! Or, as you know her, Buzzing with Ms. B. I am grateful for her invitation to share my experience. Please, in remembrance of the lives lost on August 3rd, share Chrissy’s 22 days anti-racist education to others. El Paso Strong.
So, this happened…
Elementary school counselors can have 200 to 800 students. That is the reality of Texas. I am one of the lucky ones; my student population is on the lower end. Even so, connecting with them on any substantive level is challenging.
Just when I think, “I got this. Yeah, I am anti-racist. I feel proud to stand up for something bigger than myself; for those who need their voices lifted.” Then, like a slap in the face, I realized something.
Here’s what happened: I got a child’s name wrong.
Why is this significant?
Children of color may internalize that they are not valued, or that they should not speak up in the school system. Potentially, this can lead to appeasement and silence. We must empower our students of color and believe in them. I challenge myself to make a better effort to learn my students’ stories, so I don’t forget their name, and I send the message that I hear them. They are valued.
First comes connection, which leads to empathy and compassion. And of course, getting a student’s name right!
If you really get to know someone, you are not going to forget their name.
- What is your name? How did you get your name? Did you parents or family choose it? Why?
- Where do you call home? What makes this home?
- What’s an adjective you would use to describe yourself? Why did you choose that adjective?
- Describe a part of your identity you are proud of.
- Tell me something others would find interesting or unexpected.
- How has a specific aspect of your identity that has affected your life? (age, gender, race, ethnicity) *You can use framework linked below.
- What is a value or belief that you grew up with in your household?
- Draw yourself. What do you like about yourself?
- Draw your home. Draw your family. (Have students share with each other and the class).
- Draw what meal-time looks like at your home. Who is there? What is there? What do you do?
- Draw what your weekend looks like. What do you do?
- Draw the people who are the most important in your life.
- Put students into small groups. Give students an opportunity to pretend they are in their favorite place. (Props optional).
- Give students a varied amount of toys and have them pretend they are with their friends and family. Invite them to share what they pretended to do.
*Details of personal stories have been altered for confidentiality purposes.