Decide upfront on the goals and parameters of the conversation — what you are and are not going to address.

If you expect a challenging conversation, take time to get centered and take some deep breaths together. Try to be fully present with each other, without any distractions. Pay attention not only to what is being said (or not being said), but also to how it is being said, and who is saying it (or who is not speaking). Expect to do more facilitating and process management, with the content of the conversation mostly generated in real time by your students.

You can invite students to lead all or parts of the conversation. This not only gives them more ownership of the content, but also helps them practice important skills. You can be ready to guide or mediate, if needed, but you don’t always have to lead the discussion, especially if some of your students have more direct experience with the topic at hand.

Even if there is disagreement, as long you’ve followed your group norms and everyone feels heard and respected, the conversation will likely be constructive and productive. Build in movement breaks, as well as time at the end for appreciations and closure.

< Previous: Establish and Enforce Group Norms   |   Next: Model Your Values and Vision >

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.