As first period gets underway at Cambridge Street Upper School, veteran math teacher Stephen Abreu leads a small-group discussion. But the conversation isn’t about middle school algebra, and Abreu isn’t talking to students. Seven of his fellow teachers, nearly all of them white women, are sitting across from each other talking about race, white privilege and how their own biases affect their relationships with students.
“Am I just always going to be wrong?” one teacher wonders about her interactions with students of color.
“Black kids need to know they’re not being singled out,” says another, during a conversation about making sure that her students see she isn’t playing favorites when it comes to classroom discipline.
Another colleague confesses her surprise at how often teachers of color have reported experiencing racial bias in their own interactions in the building.