Author: Kelly Wickham

tuenight first job black at school kelly wickham

Being Black at School: A Teacher Creates a Better Classroom

I was born in Chicago, raised on the south side and Hyde Park, and finished high school in the south suburbs. My upbringing was so diverse that there didn’t appear to be a dominant culture. It wasn’t until we went to the suburbs that I asked my white mother, “Where did all these white people come from?” My dad is Black, and all our friends were a blend of countless cultures. In that very white environment, I found myself searching for any kind of color and I also began to hear, for the first time, about how proud the people were for being colorblind. It’s funny that I’ve only ever heard this expression from white people who use it as a way to let others know how great they are for not considering color. It’s even funnier that they never notice the absence of color when they’re surrounded by homogenous populations. After graduation, I continued south to college and then again to start my career as a high school teacher. My first professional job came …

The Most Important Part of My Job

As a Guidance Dean at a middle school in Illinois, my office life is very different from what it used to be when I was a classroom teacher. Meetings, phone calls and e-mails between parents and teachers and me seem to take up a significant amount of time. As far as being out of the office goes, I’m not in it all day, either. Each day a full hour and a half is devoted to doing lunchroom supervision. The lunchroom is where I do some of my best work. Though I will complain about that huge chunk of time when I’m not visiting classrooms where teaching and learning is happening, nor is it time spent in my office, it is uppermost in building relationships with students. If they don’t see me regularly, how will they trust me when they need a confidante? Now, more than ever, this important part of my job becomes known. My students are tech-savvy and all have cell phones with access to social media. Yet social media norms are something about …

Like Crickets to Fireworks: Blogging About Race

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight.com) My first taste of online publishing, in 2005, was inspired by a now-defunct blog written by a teacher in Chicago. She wrote about her classroom and her students, and even though I hadn’t been there, she brought her surroundings to life in a way that felt so familiar. As a longtime educator myself, I could relate. Eventually, we would meet in person and become good friends. In that time we experienced marriage, a divorce, and children. Her writing opened my world up to freely express myself as a writer. In one post, she wrote in detail about one of her students, a reluctant reader, to try a book that she suggested. She clearly cared about her students and spoke of them in a way not often seen by those outside the profession. It reminded me of how I tried so hard to find something palatable for my students. Within a year, I decided that I wanted to do the same thing, share my own stories in a blog. So, I purchased …