Teachers across the country are constantly on the lookout for strategies that will help them motivate, inspire, engage, and empower their African American and Latino male population. This blog is dedicated to helping teachers understand some of the cultural dynamics inherent in working with young men of color. This initial blog-post will provide you 5 strategies for re-engaging the disengaged young man. Feel free to peruse the rest of the web site for additional information pertaining to our work.
#1 Grab their attention immediately!
A significant number of young men of color bring negative expectations into the classroom. They've heard it and seen it all before (or so they believe). Allowing for that mindset and belief system, you want to have something planned that will grab their attention "Immediately!" Your planned event should be in keeping with the subject-matter you ultimately want to teach. Once you have their attention "Don't Let Go!" Have a game plan on where and how you want to start and finish.
#2. Control your energy and you’ll control the outcome
If you are breathing, you are communicating. The question is, are you communicating on purpose that which you are communicating without saying a word? Do you get frustrated in class and appear out of control, when things don't go the way you want them to? Any sign of frustration, anxiety, or anger sends an immediate sign of "Weakness" to your male students. Controlling your energy is mandatory if you desire to control your outcomes, with young men of color.
#3. Operate in a state of “Certainty,” not “Aggression”
Certainty is a state of mind. In this blog I will not describe the elements of certainty, however, I will share that confidence is synonymous with certainty. The energy of certainty is calming to individuals who grow up in environments where uncertainty can mean danger. Another critical and negative aspect of uncertainty is what it can trigger in your dominant male students. Your most dominant male students can interpret your uncertainty as an opportunity for them to move in and dominate your classroom. Learning how to operate in a state of certainty - not aggression, is critical to your success, with young men of color.
#4. Create an “End-Game” for your young men
How can we expect our young men to vigorously participate in their educational process if they do not know the reason for doing so? And, how can they put forth the necessary energy and focus toward an end they have not created. Have each of your young men create their own personal "End-Game." Have them make it as clear and concise as possible. Their end-game may consist of completing high school, selecting a college, choosing a major, and working in their major upon completion of college. Once they have created their end-game, have them sign it and provide you a copy. You now have a document created by them that you can use to get them back on track, if/when they deviate.
#5. Create an academic competition for your boys
Competition is a natural aspect of the makeup of young men. Competition is an indigenous human trait that once triggered and directed can shift the attention from the mundane to the dynamic. When young men view academics within the classroom as a means to gain positive attention, they will participate at a greater rate of involvement than otherwise. Creating positive classroom academic competitions among your young men can go a long way in creating a positive learning environment for all your students.
Those are a few of the strategies you can use to motivate, inspire, engage, and empower your young men of color. Join me next time as we discuss innovative programming that appeals to young men of color and how you can incorporate that programming into your classroom for amazing results.
Until next time
"A child is a seed that was sent to this planet to grow into the answer for a problem facing the world."