Recent events of calling Black students names has caused teachers to be suspended, reprimanded, and publicly humiliated by the news media. For many teachers the question has to be: How can I effectively communicate with Black students and not place my job in jeopardy.

I understand, and as a former math teacher it can get a little heated at times and we can say things that we will regret later. Let me provide you with several tips.

  1. Keep you cool at all times. The one way that Black students attempt to rise to be leader is to get the teacher to get upset in front of the other students. Since you are the teacher, you have to maintain classroom order and can not allow students to use this type of vehicle to gain “fame” at your expense.
  2. Never use sarcasm. May students will use sarcasm to anger a teacher. You should never respond with sarcasm because you are modeling for the other students the appropriate behavior for interacting with people who use sarcasm.
  3. Call them Mr. or Ms. Black students are accustomed to sharing knowledge with their parents on an equal level. When in the classroom, you are sharing knowledge. As a former teacher, I would take attendance and call them by first name. When I began instruction, and was required to ask them a question, or respond to them, I always called them Mr. or Ms. and whatever was their last name. This made the students feel respected and always kept a classroom atmosphere of professionalism.


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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships


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