Practicing Awareness of Microaggressions

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While this instance of microaggression did not occur this week, it did take place this school year. I have a child in my kindergarten class who has a plethora of behavior issues. There are many interventions I have established for him in my classroom on a daily basis; the most significant of these is patience and love (and on my good days, an abundance of both of these). A few months ago, another teacher had a run-in with this particular student in which the student was very defiant. After recalling this incident to me, the teacher said, “you know what [this student] really needs is a tough, non-nonsense man in his life.” After taking a moment to recover and not come unglued, I responded that I thought love was truly what this child needed and that’s what I was (and am) working on providing him with every day that he is in school. To be the target of microaggression was infuriating and extremely frustrating. For a colleague who has never been in my classroom to witness the strong relationships I establish with each of my students (especially the ones that are hard to love), this comment was hurtful and I found myself feeling defensive because of it. My being a woman has nothing to do with the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of my teaching.

My observation experiences this week affected my perception of stereotypes and prejudice in that I realized that a major root cause of this is often ignorance. People can be so unaware of how their words or actions can affect others and therefore speak and act in such under thought, careless ways. It has also broadened my own frame of reference in making me more aware, sensitive, and intentional with the way I speak and act around diversity.

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4 thoughts on “Practicing Awareness of Microaggressions

  1. Renee,
    As an early childhood special education teacher, I commend you for your continued efforts to work with this student. I worry about my students with behavior goals that I send on to Kindergarten and hope they will have a teacher who believes as you do that they need love and patience. I am sorry to hear that the other teacher believes all it take is a male figure in the child’s life. Though they may not have thought through what they said the fact that these words came to mind indicates the teacher does believe that is all it would take. I find that most often when a child has behavioral challenges there is most likely a lot more going on than can be seen through the behavior they are exhibiting in the moment. I am glad to hear that you understand the great importance of building a relationship with this child.

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  2. You did the right thing, and this was truly a microaggression. People can say things at times and not really think before they open their mouths. Keep up the good work and don’t let what that person said get you down.

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  3. Renee,
    I can truly relate to the incident with your co-worker. I do feel that we are these children second parents and rather we are a man or a woman makes no difference as long as the child is shown love and affection and that child know and see that and is able to perceive the affection from me. With some children it doesn’t matter one show them the love and affection. Very good post.

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  4. Renee,

    I definitely agree. We can not base opinion off of assumptions. I have had students in my class that does not do well with other teachers when I was not around so I definitely understand your love and affection approach. We have to show our students everyday that we care. She should not have made an opinion just by having a run in. I am so glad that you explained to her what you thought worked best for your students. Great Post.

    Deshadiya

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