I can't help but wonder how my students have taken this news. I would imagine with a lot of anger. I wonder how I would have handled this. Would there have been a meeting ahead of time with our school administration to discuss the issues and come up with a plan? Would there have been a crisis team in place as we had earlier in the year after one of our students died in a car crash? We had counselors available all day so that students who were overcome with grief could talk to someone about their feelings. This obviously is not the same thing, but the emotions would have been just as strong.
In many respects, I feel inadequate talking with students about these issues. What do I, a middle-aged white woman know about being a young black boy? On the other hand, my ex-husband was African and my own children are bi-racial. I have first-hand experience with racism and have seen multiple incidents regarding my children, so I am not totally clueless. Still, it's not the same.
As a school, we also have our share of behavioral issues and the equity issues that come with that. We are a very diverse school, with roughly 1/4 each of our population being African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and white. We have high poverty and transiency. We have high numbers of ELL and Special Education students. As a result of some of these factors, many of our students struggle. In order to help us understand better, we had a speaker come in and talk about trauma and how it affects students, and how we as teachers need to understand this in order to help. I thought it was excellent professional development, and there will be more coming in the fall. Here is a link to an article that explains it in more detail, with a focus on the Trayvon case.
Teaching is more than just reading, writing, and math instruction, and the other things we teach. Our students come to us with all kinds of baggage and we need to be able to deal with it in order for our curriculum to sink in.