Christmas vacation has just finished and many of your Black students will return to school. Many Blacks students will not want to return to school for several reasons. They have been sleeping late everyday and most of them have been enjoying their gifts and the time off. Many of them will dredged returning to school from their Christmas vacation because of the harsh discipline that is delved out to Black children.

The United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights reports that disciplinary disparities between Blacks and Whites begin in preschool. Even though Black children represent 18% of the preschool population, they represent 48% of the out of school suspensions. Comparatively, White students represent 43% of the preschool population, while only representing 26% of the out of school suspensions.

This imbalance of discipline continues through high school. Black students are three times more likely to be suspended from school when compared to White students. The average suspension rate for White students is 5%, while the average suspension rate for Black students is 16%. Additionally, Black girls are suspended at a rate 12% higher when compare to other girls of different ethnicities.

The racial bias has an impact on what students are referred to law enforcement. Black students represent 16% of the student population while representing 27% of the students referred to law enforcement and 31% are arrested. Comparatively, White student represent 51% of the student population while representing 54% of the students referred to law enforcement and 39% are arrested.

Because of these alarming statistics, many Black children will not desires to return to school from their Christmas vacation. Teachers can use this reintroduction as an opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the year through teacher nonverbal behavior.

Teacher nonverbal behavior has an impact on student achievement and classroom behaviors. When teachers look or feel anxious, students will pick up that and worry. This can prompt psychosomatic reactions that contribute to discipline problems such as avoiding school and resisting classroom instruction. It can also cause depression which often leads to anger and disruptive 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. 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 teacher and school.

As teachers prepare for their Black students returning from Christmas vacation they can begin developing positive relationships with their students by smiling.

black students have a superior ability to determine a person’s mood by evaluating their facial expression. Even when a teacher is delving out discipline in front of other students it should be done with a smile because other students are watching too. It 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 frowning teacher is perceived as mean or grumpy. Smiling has benefits for students that will lead to higher levels of achievement in the classrooms and schools.

Smiling also has benefits for teachers who decide to use this strategy as their Black students return from their Christmas vacation. According to abouthealth, smiling has 10 benefits:

  1. Smiling Makes Us Attractive – We are drawn to people who smile. There is an attraction factor. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away — but a smile draws them in (avoid these smile aging habits to keep your smile looking great).
  2. Smiling Changes Our Mood – Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There’s a good chance you mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.
  3. Smiling Is Contagious – When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.
  4. Smiling Relieves Stress – Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you’ll be better able to take action.
  5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System – Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling.
  6. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure – When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?
  7. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin – Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.
  8. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger – The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making a person appear younger. Don’t go for a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day — you’ll look younger and feel better.
  9. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful – Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at meetings and appointments and people will react to you differently.
  10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive – Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It’s hard. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that “Life is Good!” Stay away from depression, stress and worry by smiling.

Use your smile to set the tone for the rest of the school year with your Black students who are returning from their Christmas vacation.

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


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2 thoughts on “How should a White teacher respond to Black children returning to school from Christmas vacation?”

  1. So much for discrimination! As a teacher, you should treat your students equal, regardless of their gender, color, age or ethnicity. Everyone has the right to equal education and being deprived of it just because you’re black is absolute nonsense.

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