Teaching Tulsa related racial history, The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, or historic Greenwood.

Help, I’m new to this! What advice do you have for me? Where do I even start?2022-12-27T19:33:52+00:00

It’s important for you as a professional to first define what your work is as a teacher/professor/scholar. If you have already written a teaching or personal philosophy – return to this document and ask yourself how this kind of teaching fits into what you have written. This reflection will help to anchor your teaching and give you purpose to return to when you feel unsure.

Next, work to identify your goals, making sure that they are manageable. You don’t have to do everything at once – consider starting with one manageable goal and plan to build on that in subsequent years.

If you are a teacher, identifying your goals should involve taking a look at your current course learning outcomes or state determined standards. How does this content fit into those goals? How can this content help your students meet those learning goals?

Is there anyone who can help me as I get started?2022-12-27T19:33:39+00:00

The John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation provides teacher support for both experienced and novice teachers through its curriculum resource portal but also through guided tours. We recommend that new teachers who feel unsure reach out to The Center to request a tour of Reconciliation Park with your students. If costs make this kind of a trip prohibitive, The Center can send a docent to your school to talk with students in your classroom. All tours and site visits are free of charge. 

Other organizations including Greenwood Rising and The Greenwood Cultural Center also have teacher resources. 

Possibly one of the most under-valued types of development can happen through talking with veteran teachers. Is there someone in your circle who you can reach out to? Talk with them about what worked and didn’t work for them. 

How do I know where to find the best resources that can help guide and inform my teaching?2022-12-27T19:34:08+00:00

Take a look at this document explaining how to evaluate resources as well as this document on why oral history is important. We can’t stress enough how important it is to look at primary resources, especially when teaching The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Many, many survivor accounts exist and will give students a true human-connection to the people living in Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood before, during, and after 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Many, many survivor accounts exist and will give students a true human-connection to the people living in Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood before, during, and after 1921.

Are there specific teaching strategies that will help me?2022-12-27T19:34:12+00:00

We recommend discussion-based activities where students respond to questions with their own ideas and thoughts. Lesson plans have been developed in this portal to give teachers this kind of discussion and exploration driven time with students.

Many lesson plans in this portal also include reflection prompts. Unlike discussions, which are meant to be shared out loud with the entire class, reflection questions are personal. They are meant to make students think about and make connections to their own life. A journal makes a great format for responding to reflection questions.

Am I equipped to teach a history that I feel is not my own; I’m not sure how confident I am?2022-12-27T19:34:17+00:00

This is a question that many people have, but if it’s possible, work to reframe this. In the case of teaching history related to Greenwood, this isn’t just black history – it’s part of the history of Tulsa, and by extension, the history of Oklahoma and of America. This is true of all parts of the human experience. We owe it to students to give them a full account of their history.

My newness to this material makes me a little uncomfortable. What can help me overcome that?2022-12-27T19:34:22+00:00

Be aware of what makes you uncomfortable and be with those feelings for a moment. At the risk of answering a question with even more questions, it’s important to identify the source of your hesitation or fear. Are you afraid of administrative retaliation? Are you afraid of saying something incorrect? Are you afraid of being “canceled”? Are you afraid someone will accuse you of something?

Does identifying the source of your discomfort help you process those feelings? What understanding can you draw from that? Are your insecurities related to your opinion about yourself and your ability? If so, are there ways that looking at your training and your experiences can help you feel more confident and comfortable? If not, can you identify additional training that would help? Further, is there a bigger picture that can help you see beyond yourself? What motivates you to teach, and how can that guide you in moments of self doubt?

What can I do to encourage my students to dial into their local history?2022-12-27T19:34:28+00:00

Show similarities – focus on PEOPLE and communities. Students will be particularly interested in stories that relate to other children/teenagers who are their age.

The gallery in the Greenwood Cultural center is of particular relevance to teachers. While the images are of older people, the stories that they tell are from when they were children. Consider also pairing a visit to see these portraits with a visit to the Ellis Walker Woods memorial site (See field trip activity) and ask students how the memorial contradicts the narrative that Greenwood was “destroyed.”

Consider assigning research projects for older students on some of the many people associated with Greenwood. If you need ideas, any of the names on the Ellis Walker Woods Memorial Site would make great research projects. These will encourage students to research someone connected to the Greenwood area and will help tell the fuller story of Greenwood, pre and post 1921.

Finally, many times educators feel like they need to fill every minute of the class with content. Be sure to allow students time to discuss and reflect. (Many of the items posted to this portal will give you discussion and reflection questions that you can embed into the classroom.) This kind of approach to teaching takes some stress off teachers having to fill the whole time with specific content and is actually more meaningful for students. When a student can draw their own conclusions, they are more inclined to remember and internalize that information.

How should I handle a well-meaning student who unconsciously says something offensive?2022-12-27T19:34:33+00:00

This will happen at some point in your teaching experience if it hasn’t happened already. It can be helpful to let students know that strong emotions might be a part of conversations that emerge and that these emotions should be acknowledged and worked through. Avoid shaming as this could cause the student to dig deeper into their own biases. Questions will generally go farther than accusations. “What do you mean by that?” “Is there someone who might be hurt to hear you say this?” “Is there a different way that you could say this?” “Where do you think this idea came from?” “What are the implications of this idea?” Sometimes other students will engage in these discussions too, and there can be a positive shift in ideas that comes from interactions with fellow classmates.

Many times a student who doesn’t realize their biases will appreciate the chance to rethink their phrasing and it can be a learning opportunity about how attitudes form (and can also be unformed). If the student does not change their response, it can be useful to pull the student aside after class and talk one-on-one rather than calling them out in front of their peers.

How should I handle a student who intentionally says something offensive?2022-12-27T19:34:38+00:00

This may also happen at some point during your teaching career. If you anticipate a student who may fall into this category, it can help to talk with them in advance.

It may also help to distinguish between a student who is presenting a conflict that can be mitigated by thoughtful discussion and a student who is intent on resisting regardless of whether facts and logic are on their side.

Building strong relationships with students is vital to understanding your students and to anticipating and possibly even preventing conflicts before they happen.

Giving students written opportunities to respond to reflection and discussion questions can be a way for a resisting student to express themselves without involving the entire class. (It also gives you the teacher written documentation if you need to pursue action.)

Ultimately, though, you need to be aware of your school’s policies on hate speech, and if a student insists on racist or disrespectful language, bring administrators into the situation and seek guidance on next steps.

What if I make a mistake?2022-12-27T19:34:45+00:00

First of all, understand that every educator makes mistakes. A mistake in and of itself does not disqualify you from the profession of teaching. However, intellectual humility requires us to apologize when we become aware of that mistake. This is actually a good thing for students to hear and hopefully internalize and emulate when they make their own mistakes.

Kaplowitze et. al.’s Race Dialogues has a 5 step method called ReAACT for issuing an apology (92–93) where that is appropriate:

  1. Reflect on the situation
  2. Acknowledge your mistake
  3. Apologize
  4. Change your behavior

Thank your students/peers for helping you learn.

What if I don’t know what to say in response to a student?2022-12-27T19:34:50+00:00

This is another sign of intellectual humility. Acknowledge that you don’t know but that you are committed to seeking out answers from those who do know. Be sure to do your research and follow up with that student in a timely manner. Share with students the process you took to find the answer – in this way, you are a model of what intellectual inquiry looks like.

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