Year: 1998-1999
Month: April
Leader: Group G

Situation/Case Study:

African American student is new to district. The family only includes mom. He lived behind a sports center and went to the local elementary school. Mom did attend the conference. She said she would like to move back. He has a younger sister that is a straight "A" student. Teacher is not sure of his reading and writing ability. When Black History was studied this student seemed totally uninterested. He completed an assignment but seemed totally unmotivated. This student steals, lies, goes into other student's lockers and backpacks. He has taken other students' lab sheets, erased their names and written his name on the paper. He never has school supplies but has very expensive clothes and toys. He is repeatedly speaking in ebonics and the students are laughing at him and labeling him. At the conference the student read a letter to his mom about his academic problems. The teacher, principal, mom and student were all crying by the end of the letter. His self-esteem is extremely low. He said that the low ability group he is in for math would be the highest group in his past school. Teacher feels as though if she pressures him or disciplines this student that she will be racist.

A teacher in this situation would feel at a loss as to what should be done. It is a new situation and they can often be frustrating when you haven't had been through it before. The teacher feels for the student and at the same time feels helpless in controlling the other students remarks that the student picks up and internalizes by thinking he is different or dumb. It is a cultural issue and unfortunately it is an issue in a European-American culture predominately. A teacher would feel frustrated because the issue included cultural differences and this can be a touchy subject. You're trying to be positive and foster an environment that is safe for everyone. A teacher may feel sad, confused and lacking knowledge in regard to how to help this child be perceived positively by peers - she's going to have to dig deep to find a positive note on which to begin. A teacher in this situation would feel intimidated and over sensitive to the issue at hand. A teacher in this situation would feel uncertain - how can the student be helped so that he achieves and has increased self-esteem? A teacher in this situation may feel uncomfortable because you may not know how to approach the situation in an "appropriate" manner.

Theories behind practice:
If you feel comfortable with saying this language is his culture do so.

Impact on others:

Treat him like everyone else. Bring in speaker with African American background. Talk to social worker. Read The Watsons Go to Burmingham. This book has ebonics in it and may help with understanding.

Is he pushing the teacher to be treated differently? We need to reinforce his positive behaviors.