An Educator's Guide to This Moment Resources for Educators, Parents, and Students

by Troy Boddy

In our EquityMatters! newsletter last August 2019 we wrote "many of us feel overwhelmed by the racial, cultural, and socio-political issues in our country and all over the world. We want to escape the news and focus on our classrooms and worksites. Our students, however, will be walking into school looking to us to teach them, make them feel safe, and help them make sense of the world. Are we ready?"

That was seven months before the COVID-19 pandemic, nine months before the video showing the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, and 10 months before the world watched the heinous murder of George Floyd. The issues our students face now are having a profound emotional impact and many of our students are facing them alone.

On Friday, May 29, 2020, the Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, Jack Smith wrote, "The recent events...are not new to our society, but they have once again forced us to see the pervasive injustice, inequality and hate that African Americans face every day in our communities. Events like these impact us and our society as a whole but, depending on our race, we do not experience them in the same way. I cannot refuse to understand the problem or feign confusion about the issues."

Deputy Superintendent Monifa McKnight wrote, "While our focus as a school system has been on the wellness and education of our students in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, recent events in our country remind us that there are other things affecting all of our lives and the lives of our students and their families. There is no doubt that the kids we serve are aware of, and affected by, the unrest in communities across the nation.

We know that students are looking at us for support. How do we show them care and concern in an online environment? How do we understand the complexities that they may be feeling that could be similar or different from our own? Most importantly, how do we give them a voice? I do not want any student in this system to feel alone, unseen or unheard right now."

This issue begins with three personal pieces followed by concrete resources and tools that we have divided into four parts:

  • Educating Yourself
  • Lead with an Anti-Racist Mindset
  • Tools for Educators to Engage Students
  • Resources for Parents to Talk with Their Children About Racism

As you read through this document, consider the picture above. Substitute one of your students for the faceless student in the picture. The student is sitting alone at a desk trying to concentrate on your assignment with all the chaos surrounding them. Find just one resource that you think will help.

Troy, Deanna, Edvin, Joan, Daryl, Maniya, Marya, Ericka, and John

Introducing Equity Office Hours

We are here to support you! For the next few weeks, the Equity Initiatives Unit will hold Zoom office hours to answer staff questions and provide support. Any MCPS staff member can make an appointment by emailing Ericka_Hebron@mcpsmd.org.



Below are four personal presentations that help us set the context for the resources that follow. We cannot reach our desired results by simply implementing a strategy without, first, deeply understanding the purpose. Together, these three powerful videos–How to Raise a Black Son in America, by writer and educator, Clint Smith; My History from Daniela Gonyoe, a Grade 9 student at Northwest High School, and George Floyd and the Dominoes of Racial Injustice, by the Daily Show's Trevor Noahhelp us understand what we are trying to address and why. You may consider using these videos for conversation starters with your students, staff, or children.

Consider the following questions as you watch:

  • How does this make me feel? Why?
  • What questions are coming up as a result of the video?
  • How is the story similar or different from my own experience?

How to Raise a Black Son in America

  • As kids, we all get advice from parents and teachers that seems strange, even confusing. This was crystallized one night for a young Clint Smith, who was playing with water guns in a dark parking lot with his white friends. In a heartfelt piece, the poet paints the scene of his father's furious and fearful response. Clint Smith is a writer and teacher, and lives in Silver Spring, MD. This TED Talk from 2015 could have been written this week.

My History

  • In this powerful and prescient poem, Daniela Gonyoe who is a current Grade 9 student at Northwest High School explains how it feels to have her history classes in school reduced to a watered down lesson on slavery.

George Floyd and the Dominoes of Racial Injustice

The Daily Show's Trevor Noah shares his thoughts on the killing of George Floyd, the protests in Minneapolis, the dominos of racial injustice and police brutality, and how the contract between society and Black Americans has been broken time and time again.

Educate Yourself

We are all at different places in our continuum understanding of institutional racism. Take a look at the resources below and find the one that best fits your needs.

Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First: How Tapping Into SEL Can Help You to Help Others

We need to take care of ourselves if we are going to be able to support students, staff, and families. This article was written in April to address stress around COVID-19, but the themes are just as important to address these issues.

Cycle of Socialization

How we see the world today is based on a lifelong process of learning. For example, some of us grew up being taught to see the police as our protectors, while others were socialized to fear the police. Take this 30 minute online module to help you understand your own socialization and the socialization your students and families have received.

Books and Articles to Understand Institutional Racism

There are many wonderful books, articles, and videos to help deepen your understanding of institutional racism. Please pick one and use these questions as you read:

  1. What connections do you draw between what you read or watched and your own teaching experiences?
  2. What ideas, positions, or assumptions do you want to challenge or argue?
  3. What key concepts or ideas are worth holding on to?
  4. What changes in attitude, thinking, or action will you make based on the concepts in the video? Identify at least one change.

My Silence is Over

By Timaya Pulliam, Grade 10, Sherwood High School

"I have been really quiet about everything that has gone on lately...I, myself must do better in speaking out about the injustices in our society and I encourage you to do the same.

Lead with an Anti-Racist Mindset

We cannot continue to do things the same way. Even before COVID-19, achievement in MCPS was predictable by race and discipline data mirrored the criminal justice system.

There is much we need to do. Below is a plan for dialogue with your staff, an article to consider, and two important resources to ensure we are not adding technical fixes to adaptive challenges.

Engage Your Staff in Dialogue

It is important to ensure your team has a chance to connect. We have provided a sample dialogue plan with directions and tips for leading a dialogue through Zoom.

Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They’re Okay—Chances Are They’re Not

The author writes, "Over the last few months, Black people have not only watched their friends and family members die at higher rates from the coronavirus, they have also watched people who look like them be gunned down while going for a jog, be murdered in their homes, threatened while bird watching in Central Park, and mercilessly choked on camera....your Black colleagues may seem okay right now, but chances are they’re not."

Organize and Lead Effective and Culturally Responsive Meetings

A 10 minute online module that ends with specific tools and resources for leading effective meetings.

Culturally Responsive Family Engagement

Our current engagement strategies do not work for too many of our families. We have resources that help you plan and implement using a culturally responsive and equity lens.

Engage Your Students

My Black Boys Told Me to Tell You...

By Daryl C. Howard, Ph.D., Equity Specialist, MCPS Equity Initiatives Unit

This weekend I had the opportunity to zoom with my mentoring group of all black boys. Although we were supposed to discuss a book we’ve been reading, I knew it was going to be a conversation about the recent events around race relations in our country. The boys needed the space. And, quite frankly, so did I.

I’m a man. I’ve seen this before. I have calluses that shield some of the pain of these fresh wounds. But, if I am at a loss for words, how must these black boys feel and be processing the confusion in their soul? We talked and a space was created for them to just be boys who are trying to understand. Read Daryl's Essay

How to Create a Safe Environment to Talk about Race and Current Events During Distance Learning.

This guide helps teachers begin conversations with their students about George Floyd’s death and the events that surround it. Such conversations are always difficult for teachers to facilitate, and distance learning presents added challenges to teaching sensitive material. Despite these challenges, it’s critical to make space for students to process the difficult and deeply painful events of the past week.

Plan A Community Dialogue for Students and Staff on Zoom

Many schools have reached out to use for suggestions on community dialogues. Here is a sample dialogue plan with directions and tips for leading a dialogue through Zoom. Please adapt and share with us what you end up doing.

Dr. Joan's Gems

Dr. Joan's Gems is a recurring article in which Equity Initiatives Instructional Specialist, Dr. Joan Mory, provides specific resources. This month, Joan provides a very personal reflection instead.

Resources for Families to Talk With Their Children About Racism

Too few parents talk to their kids about race and identity, report finds

A recent report by the Sesame Workshop says that "Too few parents and teachers are talking about race, gender and other identity traits with children often enough, which means they are missing out on critical opportunities to teach children to become tolerant of differences from an early age."

Resources to Enter the Conversation on Race and Culture With Your Children

Knowing that we SHOULD speak with our kids about racism is different from knowing HOW to start that conversation. We have a list of ideas and resources for parents and children of all backgrounds and ages.

31 Children's Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism, and Resistance

For young children, reading books is a great way to talk with them about race. Look through the list and find some books that your child would like. Please make sure to read reviews of the books first. This list has not yet been officially reviewed by MCPS.

We know that the issues and this document could feel overwhelming. All we ask is that you find one resource that you can use today. While the issues feel so weighty, we can all do something within our sphere of influence to make a difference. We are here to help.

Click here for the MCPS ACA Policy and Nondiscrimination Statement

Email us with any questions, feedback, or suggestions at EquitMatters@mcpsmd.org. The MCPS Equity Initiatives has many more resources for all kinds of issues. Please visit our website http://bit.ly/mcpsEQUITY or call 240-740-4070. If you missed it, check out the May 2020 EquityMatters! for great articles such as Tools for Culturally Responsive Distance Learning and Cooking for Equity which includes recipes and stories from the MCPS Equity Initatives Unit.

Created By
John Landesman


Cover Photo -- https://spark.adobe.com/page/3p4pM1Tq9aj5u/ George Floyd's Life Mattered -- https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/29/george-floyd-death-benjamin-crump-jasmine-rand Say His Name -- https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/29/george-floyd-death-benjamin-crump-jasmine-rand Can't Breathe -- https://wearyourvoicemag.com/eric-garner-fatphobia/ When Ignorance Reigns -- https://www.businessinsider.com/nypd-officer-shoves-woman-george-floyd-protests-video-2020-5