The importance of Black male educators cannot be understated. Black males are the least represented in education and it is important to have a diverse group of teachers to relate to all students—especially young Black students and young Black males.
Often Black male teachers find themselves being the only Black male teacher (or only one a handful) in the schools and colleges they work in. So—what do you do if you’re the only one?
#1 Get Good At The Job You’ve Been Given
As a Black male educator, your number one job is to get good. If you’re a classroom teacher, focus on being the most outstanding classroom teacher you can be. Be the kind of teacher you wish you had as a kid.
Because at the end of the day, your word doesn’t mean anything if you’re not stepping up to the plate. If you’re the only Black male educator, all of your work will constantly be under scrutiny. So it’s up to you to become so good that no one can find anything bad to say.
You have to work hard at building your reputation as a great educator—but it pays off in dividends in the long run.
#2 Be On A Consistent Path Of Growth
There’s no getting around it; you’ve got to constantly be growing as a person and getting to know yourself.
If you don’t know yourself, somebody else is going to determine what you are. So there’s got to be constant internal work to figure out who you are and find your voice in the classroom.
#3 Build Your Team
Do everything you can to build a team of supportive people you can rely on. If you’re the only Black male educator in the building, you’re going to want to do everything you can to reach out and build a connection with every child of color you can.
As beautiful as that intention is, you have to remember that you’re just one person—and you can’t do it all alone.
Go back to the first point and focus on being excellent at your job. Put all your energy and effort into being the best where you are right now, and then you can migrate out into other areas of the school or institution.
When I first started out, I loved coaching basketball alongside teaching. But it came to a point where I realized I had to say no to coaching so I could get really, really good at teaching. And that was so hard because coaching sports gave me so much life. But doing that helped forward my career and push me to become exceptional in the classroom.
So start building your team within your school of people you can trust to turn to for help if you notice a black child is struggling or could use some guidance. It helps to have more hands while you focus on becoming an incredible educator.
There are many challenges that Black male educators face, but it is important to remember the importance of their work in society. By taking these three steps—becoming excellent at your current job, constantly growing as a person, and building a support team—you can create an environment where you excel.