The Benefits of Minority Teachers in the Classroom

The Benefits of Minority Teachers in the Classroom

By Anna Egalite & Brian Kisida

he shooting of an unarmed Black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014 sparked protests across the nation and prompted calls for greater minority representation in the police force, city governments, local school boards, the teacher labor force, and other positions of authority. Racial representation in the classroom is of particular interest to education practitioners, policymakers, and parents. Many believe that minority teachers are best situated to counter negative stereotypes and to serve as role-models, mentors, or cultural-translators for students of color. Moreover, teachers who can relate to their students’ cultural background should be less likely to hold biased subjective views of their academic abilities.

In 2014, ethnic minorities constituted a majority of America’s public school students for the first time, with projections showing that the proportion of minority students will continue to grow for years to come.


Classroom tips for teaching English to elementary students.

When students don’t understand instructions:

One of the biggest challenges of teaching elementary students lies in setting up activities. As students know barely any English, giving instructions becomes a difficult task! When planning it’s important to plan what you need to say and how you’ll say it. You’ll need to anticipate what vocabulary your students don’t know and what grammar structures they can use/understand – after all there’s no point in using the present perfect, if they don’t even understand the past simple! You may find you need to pre-teach some vocabulary before you begin. First lessons are a great opportunity to teach instructional language ‘turn to page ___’, ‘work in pairs’ ,‘spell_____’ etc.

It’s a good idea to demonstrate activities with one pair/group first(choose strong students to do this).Also getting the students to repeat directions back to you is a good way of checking students’ understanding

classroom instructionMonitoring:

One of the best ways to assess what your students need and what they understand is by walking around the classroom and listening to your students.

Teacher talk time:

Think of ways to reduce teacher  talk time and increase student talk time! Students  learn from doing.

How to stop students from speaking their own language:

At an elementary level, students will of course need to use some of their own language in the classroom in general. Students may need to discuss their comprehension of grammar,vocabulary and instructions together and this will be helpful to them as they process their understanding of English.However, in controlled practice activities and freer practice activities, students should be using only English. You will therefore need to make it clear to students that in these activities they must only use English. It is a good idea here to implement the points systemwhereby students can lose points for their team if they don’t use English (you could appoint some monitors to help you catch naughty students out!). (more…)

Dealing With Student Aggression

In dealing with a student who is acting aggressively toward his classmates, you want to send a strong message that aggressive behavior will not be tolerated in your classroom. In addition, you want to help him develop more appropriate ways of settling disputes with his peers. Be sure, however, to avoid harsh punishment or humiliation . Harshly disciplining an aggressive student might fuel his anger and make him more determined to continue the aggressive behavior.

What You Can  Do

Be assertive when breaking up fights. If two elementary school students are engaged in a fight, use a strong loud voice to stop it. If that doesn’t work, you might say something odd ( “Look up! The ceiling is falling!”) to divert their attention. If they still don’t stop and you can’t separate them, send a student to the office to get help. If a crowd of children is gathering, insist that they move away or sit down, perhaps clapping your hands to get their attention. After the incident is over, meet with the combatants together so they can give you their versions of what happened and you can help them resolve any lingering problems. Also notify the parents.

Respond calmly but firmly to an aggressive student. Speak in a firm, no-nonsense manner to stop a student’s aggressive behavior; use physical restraint as a last resort. When responding to the student, pay attention to your verbal as well as non-verbal language. Even if he is yelling at you, stay calm. Allow him to express what he is upset about without interrupting him and then acknowledge his feelings. Avoid crossing your arms, pointing a finger or making threats; any of those actions could intensity his anger and stiffen his resistance. (more…)