By Anthony Hubbard
Providing an educational environment that will work extremely well for Boys of Color can be a great challenge especially when they enter the transition to high school/college and career. Research indicates that
the ideal educational setup is a combination of important factors which include high standards of education, commitment of the entire school community, and setting higher level of expectations. The learning environment should be sensitive to address the social and emotional factors that affect the development of Boys of Color which can be done by helping them to have a sense of belonging and leading them to relate their identities to their rich cultural and historical heritage. The students should also be taught to become responsible members of the society through delegation of tasks that will allow them to serve their communities.
Educational Institution’s Best Practices
Schools play critical roles to taper the achievement gap for its male students of color. They should set exemplary standards to encourage these students to aspire for academic excellence and develop self-respect. There are several best practices that can be implemented by educational institutions to minimize, if not totally eliminate, the so-called achievement gap.
- Address the issues as an entire school community
While it is the teacher who engages the students every day, the problems concerning a particular segment of students is the concern of the entire school community, not just the teacher alone. Schools must empower their faculty members and school leaders with the right skills, training, and qualities that can provide strong student support especially for boys of color.
- Rigorous, relevant, and differentiated learning activities
Student literacy is better enhanced when institutions adapt several learning strategies that are made available to all students. While this may go through some trial-and-error phase to discover which strategies will work best for the students, it is certainly worth a try to experiment with various innovative learning activities like technology integration (use of iPads and tablets), single gender classrooms, small group activities, and many more. The single gender classrooms, for instance, can have a positive effect on the students especially on their transition to high school/college and career. This set-up can help create a safe and accepting environment where boys learn from each other and built stronger relationships.
- Student support and loving intervention coming from the parents, school leaders, and students
Social and emotional factors that greatly impact the performance of Boys of Color in school usually stem from insecurity and lack of acceptance. If the entire school community, including the parents, faculty members and the rest of the students, take the extra mile to mentor a problematic student (e.g. seniors or upper class students mentoring the freshmen), this will instill concern and accountability to each other. As each one is encouraged to extend a helping hand, this will create a nurturing culture in the entire school. A constant dialogue or meeting that is specifically held to address diversity issues will help alleviate the problems.
- Self-assessment and Goal-setting systems
To encourage Boys of Color to keep track of and be accountable for their personal success, educational institutions should adapt a system that will allow these students to measure their progress in public speaking, interpersonal relationships, and academic achievements. In addition, civic involvement should be measured as well. This will encourage students to excel not only academically but also to engage in numerous activities like performing arts, musical, and dance events.
Young men of color go through a very critical and difficult phase as they enter adulthood. They need all the support they can get so they can cope with the inevitable growing pains that could, ultimately, affect their school performance. As our educational institutions do their share in providing the needed inspiration and support, coupled with the commitment to provide a conducive and caring learning environment, boys of color can be motivated to achieve their goals in life and achieve success.