After a recent staff development for educators, I was emailed by a teacher, who, while driving home from the conference, struggled with something I said. Although she was moved by my presentation, the question I raised, “What are you going to do for me?’’ continued to resonate in her thoughts. She could not help but want clarity thus she emailed me asking, ”What do you want me to do for you?”
The question I raised was meant to provoke the audience into thinking about how sometimes personal biases interfere with ones ability to provide service. I conduct my presentation completely dressed in my gang attire, the same attire I wore as a student. In doing so, it creates an uncomfortable feeling that in many cases is not acknowledged. There begins this underlined desire to remove what ever is creating this uncomfortable situation. In this case, me. Even during my keynote, I see the look of discomfort drawn on the faces of the audience. Hence, the question.
The answer is simple. As a child, I wanted to know if you were going to be down for me. In other words, I wanted to know if I had a teacher who truly cared about my potential and me or not. In most cases, that was apparent within the first few moments. I was either treat as a deviant or pitied as a displace child. Both disarmed me from any aspirations of achieving an education. The most effective teachers in my life were those who respected and accepted me. They had compassion and desired a greater understanding of my social conditions. Most importantly, they believed that I, or any child, could learn. They simply did their best to teach.