In a recent article, an Australian researcher proposes that confronting racist teacher attitudes will eliminate racism in education. When people are confronted, they may feel like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Transforming teacher attitudes in the area of classroom disruptions is one effective process for eliminating racism in education.

According to the article, Racism Plays Major Role in Poor Outcomes of Aboriginal People: study, racism has an impact on academic achievement and school attendance. However, low academic achievement and school attendance are not only a product of racism in education, it is a product of the external environment that Aboriginal people continue to encounter. Black and Aboriginal children continue to face the same challenges associated with racism in education. In a study conducted by Dr. Campbell it was found that racism in education has an impact on academic achievement and school attendance for Black students too.

What is a classroom activity that is a major contributor to low academic achievement and low school attendance which results in racism in education?

The classroom activity that contributes to low academic achievement and low school attendance is classroom disruptions. One teacher described classroom disruptions as an act related to student behavior. This teacher stated:

Someone who gets up and walks around the room, and you have to tell them to sit            down. Somebody who is constantly talking about something other than what they are supposed to be doing and bothering another student. Or somebody who is just                  sitting there and just looking around the room, and they are not really doing   anything. They are disrupting themselves.

If this student was Black then this teacher may benefit from the research regarding Black student classroom behavior. Before Black students begin a task, they may look over the assignment in its entirety, rearrange their posture, and writing space, ask the teacher to repeat the directions, check the perception of other neighboring students, and check pencils and paper. For Black students, these are necessary classroom behaviors while teachers may perceive that the students are inattentive, disruptive, or not prepared, or attempting to avoid completing the task.

Most classroom disruptions result from talking. Black students have classroom talking behaviors that result from interest in the instructional process. Black students are inclined to talk back when motivated by what a teacher says. Black students may become so impressed with the speaker, such as a teacher, that the students want to hear what the teacher said again due to an interest not in what was said but how it was said. Many Black students want to create the appropriate mood and setting before beginning to work on a task by asking the teacher to repeat the directions. Black students want gratification for classroom efforts. Blacks will argue for recognition of unsuccessful efforts toward completing a task. Many teachers do not expect Black students to interrupt the class by talking to their neighbors and speak without raising their hands. Educators assume quiet students are successful and receive rewards for making teaching an easier task.

Teachers respond to students talking in the classroom without permission by ordering, reprimanding, involving students in work, and naming the student. Some teachers may exhibit unprofessional behavior when students talk in the classroom without permission. When a teacher yells, uses harsh words, shames, degrades, or embarrasses a student, such behavior influences all students. Hispanics students agreed educators such as teachers should be indirect rather than direct and frank as well as respectful rather than disrespectful when reprimanding or disciplining Hispanic students.

How do students respond to the consequences of classroom disruptions that can result in racism in education?

When teachers are unsuccessful in getting students to comply with classroom management strategies that avoid classroom disruptions, teachers submit a discipline referral. Normally, the referral is sent to the assistant principal. The assistant principal evaluates the discipline referral and assigns the student a consequence. In this particular school the normal assignment for classroom disruptions was in-school suspension. When the students in-school suspension assignments increased, student absences increased. Increased absences resulted in decreased grades and an increased number of incidents. When student grades decreased, student tardiness increased.

Confronting teachers regarding racist attitudes is counterproductive to the mission of education. It will cause teachers to become defensive and exhibit characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization. Eliminating racism in education should begin with reducing classroom disruptions by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships).

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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 and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology

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  1. Pingback: How should teachers fight to defend public education? | Learning Flourishes in an Environment Free of Racism

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