Three SEL Skills You Need to Discuss Race in Classrooms

Today’s educational system is far more diverse than the systems of the past. Today’s institutions attempt to offer students of all races and backgrounds a safe and respectful community in which to thrive. Here are three essential social-emotional skills you’ll need to discuss race in classrooms.

Listening

Listening to the students is one of the best ways of finding out their needs and concerns. Most of all, welcome any and all education on the subject. You might be surprised to find out what you didn’t know. Also, be sure to monitor the responses and moods of the other students in the room to head off negative and troublesome behavior before it gets out of hand.

Speaking

Before facilitating a discussion on race, do a little research on modern and self-identifying terms of the ethnic group in question. If you’re uncertain if a word you are about to use is the correct, non-offensive one for a specific person or concept, politely ask if the term in question is OK to use. This can help to avoid accidentally offending someone.

Further Education

Invite others to ask polite questions on aspects that they do not understand. Encourage them to be ready to have their preconceived notions challenged or corrected. Don’t put any one person on the spot with the expectation that they speak for their entire race. Recognize the individuality of each person while maintaining a strong sense of their history and the possible trauma they may share with others of their race.