Racial disparities can create frustrating roadblocks for students who don’t come from privileged backgrounds. And bridging racial disparities can seem like an uphill battle. That’s why educators in all roles need to shift their approaches to teaching and mentoring to foster more inclusive spaces.
Students need to feel seen, heard, and appreciated to succeed. Continue reading to find three strategies for bridging racial disparities!
Create a Healthy Climate for Students
For students to reach their potential, they need a comfortable environment where respect is the top priority. In diverse classrooms, that means ensuring that all students feel recognized. Teachers and mentors must celebrate the diversity within their classroom and lift up marginalized voices.
Teachers can swap out some readings from white or male authors in favor of ones from underrepresented populations. They can meet individually with students to form stronger connections. And they can confront difficult truths about racial disparities during classroom discussions rather than ignore them.
Educational leaders must prioritize finding ways to reduce bullying, violence, and other negative behaviors, as well. Intervening with a compassionate approach can help troubled young people reroute more effectively.
Make Sure All Voices Are Represented
Do students see themselves in the materials that are read, viewed, and discussed in the classroom? If materials don’t reflect the diversity of a student population, it’s difficult to make positive strides on a higher level. Representation matters, and all students benefit from exposure to perspectives and work from a variety of voices.
Representation extends to those leading the educational experiences, too. Schools and non-profits focused on educational opportunities should aim to recruit leaders from all walks of life.
When students of color see themselves reflected in the individuals teaching, they may find more relevance in what they are learning. As another positive outcome, these students may find role models that help them set the bar higher.
Use Support Structures When Bridging Racial Disparities
A single teacher or mentor cannot enact significant changes alone. To help bridge racial disparities, there must be ample supports in place.
Educational leaders should commit resources to supporting mental health needs. Counselors can help in this capacity. And all educators should demonstrate a sense of understanding and willingness to provide a listening ear for students in need.
Some students may enter educational settings with significant baggage. For instance, they might lack supportive guardians at home. Or they might struggle with depression or anxiety. Educational leaders can remove the stigma from mental health challenges and instead promote a culture of caring.
Parents and guardians can play a role, too. Particularly in schools with underrepresented populations, turning to parents for suggestions and questions is critical. They can help shape choices for guest speakers, events, and more.At OhanaHC, we work with students from all backgrounds to give them access to opportunities. If you want to support this effort, we can help you find the right role at our organization. Please fill out the contact form on our website or email us at email@example.com to learn more!