Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life"....reflections

So...if anyone is reading my now you know that I am in the process (almost done) of reading the above mentioned title by Principal Baruti Kafele. The more and more that I read of this book, the more passionate I continue to if I'm not passionate enough about it already I have stopped to reflect that some may wonder what a 5'3 female may have in common with young African American males or why I have a passion for helping them, or just plain out...what can I possibly have to offer the situation or conversation. My answer is simple....while everyone else is sitting around waiting for "someone" to do something about the problem...I REALIZE THAT I AM THAT SOMEONE!!! I may not be able to save the world, but I am saving (or attempting to) the young African American males that I encounter on a daily basis. I am not afraid to speak to them, nor tell them to pull up their pants. Principal Kafele, through reading his book, is affirming everything, EVERYTHING that I believe.

Kafele offers a startling statistic that "almost 70 % of black children are born into households where there is only one parent present, typically the mother." I knew it was a high percentage but never would I think that it was 70%. My eyes are WIDE open to the fact that something needs to change....He also goes on to speak about the teachers/educators that interact with these young men. They MUST be passionate about what they do on a daily basis. He made me take a look at what I do on a daily basis and had me reflecting on some serious questions. Questions that all educators of African American young men need to ask themselves consistently until we have a clear understanding of what we do. I am a firm believer that God places us all in a particular place, at a particular time, and for a particular reason. There is a reason that you teach in the school that you do...not because YOU chose to be there, but because He had a plan for you to make a difference and inspire those students that you come in contact with everyday. Kafele states, "your students are in the best place because they are with you, and you can think of no better person to educate your students than you." We cannot choose the students that enter our classrooms everyday, but we can choose to care about them, love them, and make them feel important. After all, you may be the only positive adult that those students come into contact with that day...make the most of it.

The questions that Kafele had me reflect upon are:
  1. Have you defined your purpose for teaching?
  2. What is your purpose for teaching?
  3. Why do you do what you do every day?
  4. What drives your words and actions in your classroom?
  5. Do your students know and understand your purpose?
  6. Can they relate to it?
  7. Do they respond to it?
I challenge you to take heed to Kafele's advice and seek to answer these questions for yourself. In turn, you will not only be defining your purpose, but you will also be adding value to those that you teach and their purpose in life as well.


  1. Hola futura Doctora Rachell!Wow! I am so proud of you and as always "inspired" by your drive as a fellow educator,woman,wife and mom...As an educator myself, and as a mom of 3 African-American/Latino males,my heart is "warmed" by the fact that they have people like yourself who have a true passion for education.I know that my drive to teach everyday is the fact that I am a mom and I treat my students,both male and female, the way I would want my 3 boys to be taught.I am careful with my words and I make sure they get a smile from me everyday,since they may not get one at home. As I have gotten older I have realized my purpose in this world is to "teach,and mentor"young adults.Although I am a World Language teacher, I hope that I am a "World Teacher".I wish you luck and "your"purpose this evening was to inspire me to continue with my education and join you and hopefully become "Doctora Cova-Ware". (hugs:)

  2. One of my favorite professional books of all time is Alfred Tatum's "Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males: Closing the Achievement Gap". It truly changed how I was teaching and what I was teaching. It is one of the books that I continually go back to over and over again. I see Tatum every chance I get when he speaks at conferences.

  3. I'm actually reading Alfred Tatum's book now too. You are so correct that it has you look at things from a different perspective. I have highlighted and underlined the mess out of that book! Thanks for the suggestion!