The student news site of Brookline High School

Inconsistency in teacher facilitators

June 1, 2022

Teachers play a vital role in cultivating a supporting and trusting relationship with students, and holding space for conversations on upsetting events that happen at the highschool and beyond. When it comes to race, every teacher takes on this role differently.

Uttaro said teachers who are ignorant to the nuances of race will often avoid these conversations entirely.

“I have seen educators who felt very uncomfortable and unsure about speaking up. However, this is part of your hire. The understanding is that we gave you questions around equity in your interview, and that you’re going to have to speak up, no matter how uncomfortable you feel.” said Uttaro. “It’s complicated though. I worry about that message because I do feel like sometimes people, when forced to speak, will say something that might cause more harm than their silence.”

Cawthorne said he has seen similar situations play out. An AP science teacher once told him they were very aware of the gender disparity in their classes, and remarked that out of their 16 students, only four were women.

“I asked, ‘So how many kids of color are in the classroom?’ they responded, ‘Oh, three.’ And, and I think it’s pretty clear that this teacher had a series of experiences where he felt comfortable talking about gender, in that context, and so he was willing to do it, but not about race. I am a cisgendered heterosexual male. How bad would it be for me to say, you know, I don’t feel comfortable teaching you about women in history? That’d be horrible.” Cawthrone said.

Interim associate dean Karim Azeb said a good number of teachers acknowledge the events that weigh on specific demographics of students. However, according to Azeb, enough teachers are unequipped for such discussions, that it’s a problem.

“If we’re a school that’s committed to social justice, and equity, it should be a place where every single adult in this building feels comfortable, confident and supported to throw away a day’s lesson plan and acknowledge the emotional needs of their kids,” said Azeb.

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