The last several years, living in a near-constant state of flux has thrown the whole world into an increased sense of instability, confusion, and uncertainty. It has taken its toll on every area of life.
No element of our society was as affected as our education system, which saw the rise in virtual learning and the need to pivot how the classroom is run. The whole ordeal brought the need for social-emotional learning (SEL) for Black students into renewed focus.
As minority children, they already experience an element of isolation, both from their peers and due to a lack of representation in educators. The move to virtual or hybrid classrooms served to drive the isolation even further and added fuel to the civil unrest and rampant dehumanization of Black people.
Community For Black Students In Education
The academic community needs to be ready to amplify the voices of young Black children and allow them affinity. Provide a safe and caring environment where they can share what they’re feeling and know with certainty that they have value and significance and that their voice is worth hearing.
Intentional planning is required to ensure that how we implement SEL strategies in the classroom is focused on social justice and racial equity. Learning social and emotional competencies such as assertiveness, cooperation, responsibility, and empathy should be tied into their educational competencies like perseverance, learning styles, and learning mindset.
With this intention as the core focus, a foundation of activated support and encouraging community is created for students. They will begin to feel a sense of belonging and greater significance.
Understand Who Your Students Are
Allow what you know about each individual to inform your expectations and attitudes towards them. Who they are as a singular person, as part of their culture, and where they’re at developmentally. See the whole being they are.
This is a powerful position to take! Every teacher should desire to become familiar with the experiences of BIPOC students so they’re more aware of the unique challenges they face. As an educator, this knowledge can be shared, and racial equity can be advanced.
Give BIPOC students safe and brave spaces to share difficult topics such as racial inequality, bias, and social injustice. You are being invited into a world that is not your own. You can learn so much from your students to further a racially equitable future for them and the students around them.
As their current significant influence in their lives, educators should reinforce and redirect the language and conversation to model support for a student sharing their Black or BIPOC experience. When difficult topics arise during class time, you or your students may feel uncomfortable. Lean into the discomfort. Beyond the discomfort lies the opportunity to learn and educate more on these crucial issues.
Advancing Social-Emotional Learning for Black Students
With strong SEL strategies, we will affirm and amplify the identities of our marginalized students. We will empower the next generation of BIPOC youth to know with confidence that they matter and that they have the right to a seat at the table.