Addressing Race, Racism and Current Events

View this material in a Google Doc: Addressing Race, Racism and Current Events

Objective: To explore strategies that address race and racism to foster high expectations through rigorous instruction of current events. 

The estimated time for this activity is 30–45 minutes.

Stop and Think

In the NYSED’s Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework, the second principle is high expectations and rigorous instruction. The bullet below is part of the teacher expectations for this principle:

  • Be responsive to students’ experiences by providing them with a space to process current events 

In the article “Crucial Conversations: It’s Never Too Early to Talk About Race,” clinical psychologist Dr. Ann Hazzard shares that while educators often avoid talking about race, the “silence can communicate that race is a taboo topic or signal a lack of concern about the racial status quo.” Dr. Monnica T. Williams adds, “if you can’t talk about [race], you can’t understand it, much less fix the racial problems that plague our society.”

(Key: T — Teachers SL — School Leaders, DL — District Leaders)

  • If you were to ask your students about race, and what it means to them, what would they say? (T, SL)
  • How will open conversations about race, racism, and current events challenge implicit biases and increase academic rigor? (T, SL, DL)
  • The article discusses the response from Nickelodeon, the children’s media network, following the murder of George Floyd. What is your platform as an educator? How can you ensure that all learners are heard in your role? (T, SL, DL)
  • In what ways do you currently address current events as they arise? (T, SL)

Brainstorm & Design

According to the article above, “children can be conscious of social stereotypes as early as age six.” We must prioritize conversations about race, racism, and relevant current events to support Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Learning Environments for learners of all ages.

Some educators avoid conversations that address race, racism, and relevant current events for fear of saying the “wrong” thing. Additionally, some educators are cautious to have these conversations over a digital platform. However, avoiding these conversations will be counterproductive to fostering high expectations and challenging unconscious biases in any learning environment. For discussions in a remote setting, smaller groups are preferred to ensure that all students have a voice. In the examples below, you will see opportunities for asynchronous engagement in shared digital documents as well as discussion questions to be used in a session with a half or third of your class at a time.

Use the lesson plan examples linked below as a tool to support a learning environment that embraces opportunities to address race and racism and foster high expectations through rigorous instruction in remote and hybrid environments. Then, use the blank template provided or create your own lesson plan for addressing race and racism.