In the earliest part of my teaching career, I worked in the inner city in New York. Only four miles from where I grew up in an affluent suburban town on Long Island, I was the only white person in the room. During those early careers, I learned more about myself as a person than I ever thought I could. Foolishly, I thought, no I believed I wasn’t racist and/or biased in any way. My parents were liberals and I was raised to treat all people the same way.
It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to really get to know my kids to see how I made assumptions about people as did my colleagues that negatively impacted the students. What I learned was that I needed to have conversations. I needed to stay curious. I needed to challenge students and always treat them like they were capable learners and elevate them, regardless of where they came from to the heights of their own possibilities.