Teaching is one of my greatest gifts. Seeing my mother’s life’s work as a teacher in Dekalb County created my blueprint for what the life of a “game-changer” looks like, and the many influential teachers I experienced during my time in Atlanta Public Schools helped me to nurture my own gifts along the way.
I DIDN’T REALIZE THE IMPACT OF HAVING BLACK MALE TEACHERS THEN, BUT I DO NOW.
I attribute my love for teaching to the influence of my first Black male educators: Mr. Gordon from F. L. Stanton Elementary School in Atlanta and my father. I didn’t realize the impact of having Black male teachers then, but I do now. They taught me invaluable life lessons that I not only use to this day, but I also incorporate them into my teaching. One important lesson they taught me was to know our history and to apply it.
Today, I’m able to incorporate Black history, Atlanta’s history and world history into my lessons—a skill that has helped me to connect people and to connect with people.
TEACHING HAS NEVER BEEN JUST A JOB FOR ME
As a Black male educator, I don’t just get to talk about it; I have to be about it. Every day I have an opportunity to shift the narrative on how Black boys—who will grow into productive citizens like me—are accepted, treated, perceived and depicted in the world.
Black boys often show some of the highest levels of deficiency in areas of academics, behavior, discipline and attendance in schools. But Black boys don’t often have a teacher standing in front of them who looks just like them. My love for teaching allows me to challenge the inequity Black boys face in public schools. If teaching is my superpower, I get to be a superhero for students too often left behind.
I SEE TEACHING AS AN OPPORTUNITY NOT ONLY TO TEACH, BUT ALSO TO LEAD, DEVELOP, IMPACT AND EMPOWER
Teaching has never been just a job for me. I see teaching as an opportunity not only to teach, but also to lead, develop, impact and empower all at once. Every day, I prepare lessons that connect my classroom experience to real-life opportunities for my students. And by incorporating Black history into my lessons, I can show my students Black excellence as the norm. I know my impact on Black boys is positive. I can see it in their performance in my classes and in the feedback I receive from their families.
I WANT TO SEE CHILDREN WHO LOOK LIKE ME SUCCEED
I love teaching despite all the bad press teachers in public schools have received, and I strive to be a teacher who inspires and impacts children, their families and our community in a positive way.
I know we need more teachers like me. We need teachers who are so compelled by the painful stories of the parents and children they serve that they are committed to turning education outcomes around. This is what motivates me to teach in and out of the classroom. I want to help to dismantle the systematic racism that detours children of color from finding success in school and in the world.
I KNOW THAT THE WORK I AM DOING EVERY DAY IS IMPACTING THE LIVES OF CHILDREN WHO ARE MOST LIKELY TO BE LEFT BEHIND IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
Being a Black male teacher is one of the most rewarding parts of my life. My greatest inspiration and the most important reason I love teaching is the growth and change I see in my scholars. I know that the work I am doing every day is impacting the lives of children who are most likely to be left behind in public schools. I want to continue seeing children who look like me succeed and I know I can help to build a better future by shaping the minds of our next global leaders.
Jason B. Allen’s blog was originally posted on the Education Post website.