Be proactive by creating planned opportunities for students to share stories and life experiences in ways that connect to your curriculum.

Use current events, cultural happenings and local angles to spark relevant and meaningful discussions among your students. Pop culture (e.g. music, movies, sports, celebrities) is particularly engaging for young people, supplying continuous fodder for important race conversations. Keep abreast of race-related news sites or social media by people of color to get ideas for hot topics.

Discussions about race are often reactive, once blatant racism has occurred, and often not very constructive—with lots of blaming and shaming. Be proactive by creating planned opportunities for students to share stories and life experiences in ways that connect to your curriculum. You still may need to react, at times, to incidents of racism in your classroom—such as micro-aggressions (routine slights and insults)—but you can prepare in advance your process for addressing them so that you’re not caught off-guard. You’ll need to make your discussions developmentally appropriate, but students at all levels — even very young — are already aware of, and affected by, race.

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In This Section:

Intro: Creating the Space to Talk About Race
  1. Create a Welcoming Classroom and School
  2. Root Out Biases and Barriers
  3. Encourage Self-Expression
  4. Be Open Yourself
  5. Engage, Don’t Avoid
  6. Create Opportunities for Discussion
  7. Talk About Racism and Racial Equity
  8. Establish and Enforce Group Norms
  9. Process is as Important as Content
  10. Model Your Values and Vision

Download the Full Resource Guide:

This comprehensive NEA resource guide includes tools & resources for talking about race, conducting racial equity assessments, strategic planning, ideas for capacity building and action, FAQs, and a directory of web pages, documents and allied organizations focused on racial justice in education.
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“Creating the Space to Talk About Race in Your School” content on this web site and in our "Racial Justice in Education" resource guide © 2017 National Education Association, in collaboration with Race Forward.