Many Ferguson students are not in school because of the Michael Brown shooting grand jury verdict. The grand jury choose not to bring criminal charges against Darren Wilson which has resulted in looting, burning of businesses, and a number of police arrest. The Ferguson children are at home either because their parents do not wish for them to attend school or the Black students feel that the grand jury decision was incorrect or at this time it is to dangerous for the children to be outside.

Once all of the smoke clears, the looting has stopped, and the children return to school, White teachers must be prepared to transition the Black children back into the learning process. Without the appropriate transition, it will make most White teachers appear that they do not have the expertise to teach Black children which will result in continued racist allegations because of lower test scores for Black children.

The inability of White teachers to teach minority students has lead to many of the challenges between parents and the teachers union. These teachers have been termed as bad teachers who union officials continue to protect while they continue to create a permanent underclass. Ferguson teachers must avoid this same racism claims associated with the Michael Brown shooting grand jury verdict.

  1. Greet All Students with a Smile

As many students return to school they will be looking for nonverbal cues from their teachers. Teacher nonverbal behavior has an impact on student achievement and classroom behaviors. When teachers look and feel anxious, some students pick up that and worry too. This can prompt psychosomatic reactions that contribute to discipline problems such as avoiding school and resisting classroom instruction.

Student achievement improves when teachers exhibit positive nonverbal behavior. The primary function of teachers’ nonverbal behavior in the classroom is to improve affect or liking for the subject matter, teacher, and class and to increase the desire to learn more about the subject matter.

One step toward this is the development of a positive affective relationship between the student and the teacher. When the teacher improves affect through effective nonverbal behavior, then the students are more likely to listen more, learn more, and have a more positive attitude about the school.

Minority students have a superior ability to determine a person’s mood by evaluating their facial expression. Even when a teacher or administrator is delving out discipline in front of other students it should be done with a smile because other students are watching too. Smiling sends the message that you care but you must also do your job. Students who perceive that teachers feel favorable toward them demonstrate desired classroom behaviors and students are more likely to complete assignments in classes that they feel accepted by the teacher. Teachers who smile are perceived as friendly while a frowning teacher is perceived as mean or grumpy.

Smiling has benefits for students that will lead to higher levels of achievement in the Ferguson classrooms and Ferguson Public Schools regardless of the Michael Brown shooting grand jury verdict.

2. Refrain from Publicly Rejecting their Culture

School have been guilty of rejecting the Black student culture for decades. In the 1960’s and the early 1970’s the Black power movement became prominent. It became the first symbol where a Black students could express themselves. As time continued Black students began to move towards how they dress as symbols of freedom to only be crushed by the requirement of wearing school uniforms, rejection of sagging pants, and a rejection of hairstyles.

Instead of rejecting the students cultural desires in the classroom try the following:

  1. Wait for your students at the door with a smile.
  2. Students who are violating the uniform/clothing code ask them to wait at the door.
  3. Get your lesson started and then go back to the students who you asked to wait for you. Quietly remind them of the uniform/clothing code. Once they have made the adjustment allow them to enter the class. Note: Make sure you flag all violators including the girls. This process does not invite a showdown between the teacher and the student. Black children will attempt to make the teacher lose their cool as a way of rising to prominence and leaderships amongst their peers.

 3. Refrain from Using Sarcasm

Sarcasm can damage teacher student classroom relationships. Children believe that sarcastic messages are negative while some teachers may use it as a way of expressing humor. Even though sarcasm and ridicule may serve to correct children, the long term result is diminished self-esteem in the eyes of the students. High school students believe that sarcasm is humiliating and it serves no purpose to enhance the education of the students.

4. Develop an Informative Lesson Regarding Current Michael Brown Shooting Grand Jury Verdict

This is the time to become a hero in the eyes of your children. Many Black children are going to associate the same legitimize power that you possess as the same power associated with Darren Wilson. They are going to make a negative connection between you and Darren Wilson. You can change that connection by teaching the students how to protect themselves from becoming a victim such as Michael Brown. Therefore, none of your students will have to become the center of a process that resulted in the Michael Brown shooting grand jury verdict

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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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