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Posted on August 14, 2020 8:06 pm
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Case Study: The teacher treats me differently
As a 7th grade middle school teacher, Ms. Huff has clearly set boundaries with her students and is often viewed as strict but fair. One afternoon, a student she had the prior year approaches her and tells her she is unhappy in the eighth grade, especially in her language arts class, which the student had excelled in the prior year. "The teacher treats me differently than she does the rest of the students." When asked to expand on the comment, the student responded that she was the only African American student in the class, and she didn't feel like she was being called on with the same frequency as her classmates. She further commented that her submission of the lyrics of one of her songs as an independent poetry assignment had been graded harshly because of the "slang" that had been included in the verses. Ms. Huff knows the teacher in question, but is unsure if she should speak to her or exactly what she should say to the student. She is keenly aware of her own bias and is working on recognizing it in her interactions with her students and her colleagues. She mentions the interaction to the teacher in question who responds that the student "always wants to play the race card" and that the teacher is "tired of having to kowtow to African American students who don't do as well as the white kids." Ms. Huff is quite taken aback at the blatant racism, but is unsure what she should do next. What is her responsibility to the student and to her colleague?
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Posted September 18, 2020 3:14 pm

Keri C
Keri C
Reps: 27
Wow, that's a really tough situation to be put in, but in my opinion, since the student came to you with a problem, you now have to deal with it. I would love to know more. How long has Ms. Huff worked with this colleague? How long has she been teaching? Has she taught African American students before? Since your first conversation with the teacher in question did not go well, perhaps you can approach her again and explain that you have to go back to the student with some kind of response so maybe you can observe a class to be able to form your own opinion. You might also suggest a sit-down between the 3 of you to air out the grievances (or just the two of them and see how that goes). Otherwise, as uncomfortable as it might be, I think you have to take it to a superior. The student can not be made to feel like an outcast.
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