This week the world was impacted by the sudden passing of Stephen "tWitch" Boss. As we remember his legacy through the laughter and joy he brought us with his charm and dance moves on "So You Think You Can Dance" and "The Ellen Show," please ensure you check in with yourselves. His death reminds us that we never know what folks are battling with and what help they may need. We cannot continue to pour into our communities and loved ones without also pouring into ourselves. If you are looking for resources in the US, here are some mental health resources from Mental Health First Aid.
Now let's get into this week's topic.
A TikTok of Muslim students interrupted during their prayer by their teacher in Florida has gone viral. I hadn't even had a chance to see the video before my text messages and Instagram DMs were full of friends circulating this People article, "Florida Teacher Fired for Allegedly Disrupting Muslim Students in Prayer, Accusing Them of 'Magic." So, let's talk about it.
Glenn Garner details the incident that happened at Franklin Academy Charter School. The TikTok, posted on December 8th, shows three students praying as part of the religious rituals of their Islamic faith. A few moments into the video, a noise comes from the hallway; a teacher enters the space and yells, "Hold on, this my office, and y'all doing all this magic." The video does not show the teacher's face, just their profile from behind. After the teacher entered the office, the teacher continued to yell and, at one point, blew a whistle at the students in perhaps an attempt to disrupt them. While the teacher walks out of frame, almost stepping on one of the students, you can hear them saying, "I believe in Jesus, so I'm interrupting the floor," and then when talking to someone else off-camera, "And why are they in my office? Who told them to come in here?"
Since the incident, Franklin Academy Charter School released a statement "that school leadership was aware of the "very troubling TikTok video" and that they 'do not tolerate discriminatory behavior in any form.'" They later added to their statement, "While we do not discuss personnel matters, we can share that the teacher in question is no longer a member of the Franklin Academy staff."
I'm mad y'all. I watched this video one time and can't watch it again.
Incidents like this make us wonder if we are in the twenty-first century. Yet, unfortunately, these types of incidents are not out of the norm; this one was just recorded and uploaded to a video platform for everyone to see. So what do we do now?
Thinking about the next steps, I keep returning to these questions :
I alone do not have the answer to these questions, and I hope we can build a better future for our students together.
I invite you to share your thoughts with me.
As always, I'd love to work with you and your organization regarding keynotes and training. I've gotten a lot of requests for my STEM keynote lately, and I'd love to share it with your organization. Either way, schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation with me, and let's chat about working together!
If you want to take that first step in advocating for your students and equipping them with tools to self-advocate, I urge you to join me and my colleague Darlene Reyes for a free webinar, "Teaching Privilege and Power to Students."
Content created this week:
In this session, Dr. Mel discusses the importance of critical self-reflection as an equity-minded educator. Subscribe to the show.
Every Friday you can expect a small and informative message from the Leading Equity Center. The Weekend Voice is meant to challenge your thoughts of education today and to provoke you to take action in your schools.