Make a list of your favorite kids among those you teach. Then disaggregate the list, breaking it down by family income or status, by color, by gender, or by any other group traits. Do patterns emerge?
Define for yourself what prevents kids in the bottom quartile of your classes from achieving at high level. What specific strategies do you employ to change that pattern?
Make a list of the “top” classes in your school. Who takes them? Who teaches them? Do patterns emerge?
If you live in an almost all-white community or teach in an all-white school or classroom, list the forces that allow that place to look racially non-diverse in the context of the most diverse nation in the world. What other kinds of diversity-class, learning styles, sexual orientation, etc.-do you see around you? Create a course unit around these questions. What would be its important outcomes? Why would you teach it?
If you are a white teacher in a minority classroom, ask yourself what personal satisfaction motivates you to be there. How does that correspond (or not) with your students’ learning? Do you have a close support network of minority friends inside and outside school with whom you discuss deep and personal issues of diversity?
What are you reading? Does it add anything to your understanding of how to teach an increasingly diverse range of students?
What patterns do you notice in the way students associate in your school in student leadership roles, on the playground, in the lunchroom? Are you providing a forum for kids to talk about those patterns, and facilitating the conversations?
Credit is due to Lisa Delpit and Glenn Singleton for helping frame these questions.