Last week Chalkbeat asked educators to tell us how they talk about race and cultural differences in their classrooms. David McGuire, principal at Tindley Accelerated Schools and previously a teacher in Pike Township, reached out. McGuire is also a co-founder of a group called Educate ME, which aims to encourage more black men to go into teaching.

Photo courtesy of David McGuire's LinkedIn profile.
David McGuire. Courtesy of LinkedIn

When talking about race in the classroom, you must first understand your audience and your students. Certain conversations about race should happen the age level of the students. The conversations about race in elementary classroom are going to look different than they would look in a middle school. Middle school conversations will look different than they do in a high school classroom.

As a teacher you must have this unapologetic transparency with your students about your feelings on race. These crucial conversations that must happen in classrooms and schools must be authentic and honest. As a black male teacher, I cannot apologize for my beliefs, and I have an obligation to teach my students from my perspective and let them know that it is OK to not understand or disagree, but it is not OK to judge and develop hatred for someone because you do not agree with them. Students only get lessons like that when they are made uncomfortable and they are forced to step outside of their comfort zone.

It is important to have conversations about race because there are studies that show people who feel good about their race do better academically. As a teacher thinking about having a race conversation in your classroom, you have to understand that this conversation is important for the development of your students. These are conversations that must be had whether you are uncomfortable or you disagree they are important.

Interested in sharing your thoughts on this topic? Email us at in.tips@chalkbeat.org.