Last weekend I attended the first national convening of The Fellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice, and I am still trying to process my thoughts! As a young Black male educator about 90 minutes from Philadelphia, I remember hearing rumblings over the years about a group of Black male teachers that were meeting in Philadelphia. I considered driving down for one of the meetings, but was too tired from…being an educator. I fell into a trap that I hear repeatedly from educators too tired from educating to handle self-care. I couldn’t have known all the #Blackjoy #Blackmagic and #Blackmaleexcellence I was missing out on!
Last weekend, I was inspired and invigorated by watching my brothers take seriously the professional development in teaching best practices, learn about Restorative Justice and effective discipline, and unpack reading strategies to ensure 2+ years of student growth. During one session block, I walked into a room PACKED with Black male math teachers! I had never seen such a thing! In another session, I was with principals and administrators who ran some of the highest performing schools in their respective districts, and one of the youngest local superintendents in the NYCDOE!
Many Black brothers are in school communities that are serving Black students, but hostile to Black men and boys. Many Black brothers are in school communities that don’t see them as academics, just as disciplinarians and that aren’t giving them the coaching that they need to be awesome. Many Black brothers are in school communities where others are resistant and downright hostile when receiving coaching and direction from Black men, where they will never be fully seen as school leaders.
I realize now that part of the reason that I never felt pressed to attend, was because I had been privileged to work in school communities (mostly) that believed in me as a Black male educator, that were full of Black men choosing to show up excellent for the students that we served, and that supported my growth. I also realize now how privileged I am continue to work in spaces that affirm Black male educators. Even so, this work can still be draining. If you are a Black male educator, The Fellowship’s Convening should be in your self-care plan. Point. Blank. Period.
David Edwards is a lifelong student and educator who has supported first-generation low-income students achieve their dreams of college attendance in New York City, Newark, NJ and Oakland, CA. David is a Talent Manager with KIPP Bay Area Schools, where he works to ensure 6,000 students across the Bay Area have access to amazing teachers!