What Black History Month Taught Me About Effective Teaching And Communication

By Carrie Burke

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Last week, I had to have a tricky conversation with a parent whose child (we’ll call
him B), in my opinion, was going to really struggle sitting the Trafford Consortium examinations and those for the local independent schools such as Stockport Grammar and Cheadle Hulme School. Although it’s early in the academic year, I felt there was something just not clicking with B, and so fulfilling my duty of care I had to communicate this with his mum.

As we talked about his academic progression, it became clear that there was possibly something else going on that I’d not considered which was affecting B’s grades in his assessment papers. Having recently moved from an international, multi-cultural school where he was excelling in English and maths, he’d confided in his mum when she’d asked him what was wrong. “Mum,” he’d told her, “I’m the only one in my class with a brown face.”

His perceived ‘otherness’ was not only starting to affect his confidence but also his self-worth and self-value, and he was finding it increasingly difficult to find a sense of belonging his new school and community.

With open and honest communication, I was able to take the time to understand her B’s emotional and social needs- where grades are slipping there’s almost always an underlying reason for it. I love to work alongside parents to provide a quality service where children’s needs are met.

So now, myself and B’s mum are embarking on a journey to build B’s confidence,
self-value and worth. Although I always observe Black History Month, this year I am basing my planning (comprehensions, reports and activities) directly on B’s heritage and culture. I’m giving him a platform and a voice to talk about his identity in a way which he may not have had the opportunity to do so before…….and I’m so excited about it!

If you’re observing Black History Month I’d love to hear about it- let’s share our
similarities and celebrate our differences!

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