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HOW CAN WE PROMOTE POSITIVE INTERACTIONS WITH BLACK FAMILIES?


1. Build a genuine rapport with your families.


• Try to ensure that your interactions with families do not only occur because of a negative event.


How can you do this?


• Call to introduce yourself to the parents/ guardians of your students at the begin- ning of the school year.


• Get involved in the school community by coaching a team, running a club, attend- ing school events and/or participating in school initiatives.


• Let parents/guardians know when their child has done something positive.


• Keep the lines of communication open by ensuring that parents/guardians are aware of what is going on in the classroom and responding to them in a timely manner.


• Include parents/guardians as learning experts by asking for suggestions about authors and resources that could be used in the classroom or by inviting them to work with your students in an area of their expertise.


2. Remember the power of your words.


• When you are interacting with families, be mindful of what your choice of words could convey. The way that you say some- thing can have a profound effect on the message that you are trying to deliver.


How can you do this?


• Use a growth mindset approach when talking to parents. By focusing on the areas for growth instead of speaking of deficits you are showing the potential of a child and not their limitations.


• Remember that the language we choose when having courageous conversations with families can make a significant dif- ference in their perception and reaction.


3. Listen to understand.


• When a parent/guardian brings you a concern, they need to be heard.


How can you do this?


• Listen to understand what they are saying and try to understand why they are saying it. Do not listen to simply respond.


ELEMENTARY TEACHERS’ FEDERATION OF ONTARIO 19


• Remember the history and life experi- ence this person could be bringing to the conversation. At times, their frustration may not be directed at you, but could stem from other experiences that have been triggered.


• Once you have listened, reiterate what you understand to the parent to ensure you have understood what they wanted to communicate (and to allow them to clarify things that you may not under- stand).


4. Educate yourself.


• If this is not your experience, make sure you take the time to do some critical read- ing on anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination. You demonstrate your commitment to equity by becoming knowledgeable and working to under- stand the issues.


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