For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too by Christopher Emdin

3. Chuuuuch: Pentecostal Pedagogy

  • A big problem with teacher preparation programs is that they focus on how to create a lesson plan rather than how to connect with children. Chris draws on his experiences in black churches to help explain how to connect. He suggests that white teachers visit black churches as well as places like black barber shops and beauty salons where black cultures play out.

4. Cogenerative Dialogues (Cogens)

  • Here you will learn how to set up sessions with small groups of students during lunchtime or after school. There are strict rules for the sessions that are aimed at getting a diverse group of students to help you improve the classroom culture. Chris draws on the black rap culture to do this. The key here is to get access to student voices and show them that you are following the suggestions that come out of the sessions. The teacher gives up a lot of control and the students act as experts as they know what works for them in a classroom. There is a step by step process you can follow to give students a real voice in the classroom.

5. Co-Teaching

  • The key here is to let students be teachers too and to let them know that you expect them to teach. This will not only help the students learn more, it will share the teacher’s power and leadership. It will also privilege the students’ voice. The students will also show the teacher how they want to be taught. The first student teachers can come from the first students to participate in small group sessions (cogens) with the teacher during lunch or after school.

6. Cosmopolitanism

  • Cosmopolitanism is an approach to teaching that focuses on fostering socio-emotional connections in the classroom with the goal of building students’ sense of responsibility to each other. Students who are emotionally connected to the class will be more willing to learn. Chris suggests that you give each student a specific role or responsibility. They can be both academic and nonacademic. When students are absent their jobs should not be performed by others. He offers tools that include using student language when possible and having students work in pairs on learning tasks. The idea is to make the classroom seem like a family, which is essentially what gangs do. If you can pull this off, you are on your way to successful teaching. Don’t hesitate to come up with a class name for kids to identify with.

7. Context and Content

  • It’s possible for teachers and students to be living in their own cultures, which can prevent real connections. Rather than reaching the point of diminishing returns working on lesson plans, spend time exploring the students’ world. You need to visit the same social spaces as the students inhabit and engage in the context so you can connect. Visit the businesses students and their parents patronize. Take a tour of the neighborhoods along with churches and parks where they play. Look for opportunities to play with them like holding the rope for double dutch.
  • Bring artifacts from the neighborhood into the classroom and use them to anchor lessons. In some cases, you may have to rely on photographs. Rocks and plants from a local park can anchor science lessons. If you do get some excitement, be prepared to tolerate some level of chaos. If students are deeply engaged the are likely to ask questions the teacher can’t answer. You can challenge them to research the answers and report them to the class. Be sure to include such efforts in your grading plan.
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