Bed Bugs

This is a bed bug. Below is some information about bed bugs I pulled from Wikipedia.

"Bed bugs are parasitic insects of the cimicid family that feed exclusively on bloodCimex lectularius, the common bed bug, is the best known as it prefers to feed on human blood. Other Cimex species specialize in other animals, e.g., bat bugs, such as Cimex pipistrelli (Europe), Cimex pilosellus (western US), and Cimex adjunctus (entire eastern US).[2]
The name bed bug derives from the preferred habitat of Cimex lectularius: warm houses and especially near or inside beds and bedding or other sleep areas. Bed bugs are mainly active at night, but are not exclusively nocturnal. They usually feed on their hosts without being noticed.[3][4][5]
A number of adverse health effects may result from bed bug bites, including skin rashes, psychological effects, and allergic symptoms.[6] Bed bugs are not known to transmit any pathogens as disease vectors. Certain signs and symptoms suggest the presence of bed bugs; finding the adult insects confirms the diagnosis."

This is what someone's skin looks like after being bitten multiple times by bed bugs. 

I have been blessed to never meet this form of house infestation and I pray that I never have to either. Some scholars, however, have not been so lucky.  They live in homes, condos, and apartments that have been or are infested with these bugs. Once these bugs get started, it's hard to get them to stop. There are companies and services that help with this problem, but they can be costly, and that may not be an option for some families. So these bugs stay. 

When scholars lie down at the end of the night, rather than falling asleep, they spend their night picking and scratching at the bugs or at the bites the bugs leave. As school time approaches, scholars put on clothes that may have the bugs on the clothing. They get dressed and attempt to cover up the bite marks that may be visible. Most of the school day is spent concerned about what others may think or scratching at painful bite marks. Scholars are distracted from work they are capable of doing because of something that is out of their control.

So here's my point...

If a scholar is struggling to pay attention to the math problem on the whiteboard because she can't stop itching her neck... then the "attention issue" really isn't an issue at all! 

Culturally relevant teaching is not simply looking at the list of books to make sure that at least one is written by a person of color!

Culturally relevant teaching is about building relationships with scholars first and then using those relationships to impact the work being completed in the classroom. It also means that we as educators should use the relationships with our scholars to better inform how we interact with them every single day when they come to class. CRT means that educators must be aware of the past, present, and future of a scholar to inform the type of work in which we engage them. This works means that we are hyper-sensitive to the scholar first, and the curriculum later! 

Don't get mean wrong, ensuring that the curriculum is reflective of the world the student lives in is extremely important. But, and I apologize for my brashness, but... who the hell cares the last name of the author of a book when the scholar can't get past the itch of some damn bed bugs?

I have been a part of too many conversations where educators believe they are being culturally responsive because they include "multiculturalism" into their education strategies. Mind you, these decisions often from white educators who include bits and pieces into "their" curriculum. And these decisions are often made without consulting scholars by listening to what they think and need! So... how in the world can we qualify that as culturally responsive? 


Or there's the idea that we educators are being more culturally responsive by putting technology in scholars' hands and allowing them to "direct" more of their learning. The problem here is that we make loads of assumptions, founded in nothing, leaving us in the same kinds of disconnectedness from our scholars as we were prior to technology. Often we assume because they are "digital natives" they will be ready and willing to engage in the curriculum because we are offering it on their devices. 

If we are offering the same kind of curriculum we were taught as kids, but delivering via technology, we are doing a disservice to our scholars!

Technology has done many great things, but in the world of education it poses a danger. That danger is allowing educators to believe they are teaching in a new way, without actually changing anything about the education. Most importantly, technology has done very little to impact the work being done with and for our scholars of color. We continue to offer up a system built and a curriculum created for a middle class white scholar. 


Start first with relationships with your scholars. Get to know them in and out. Spend weeks getting to know your scholars, what makes them tick, what they enjoy, where they spend their time out of school, what their family structure looks like, who they hang out with, what their hopes and dreams are, and anything else scholars offer up! Dig deep, take notes, create mental (or literal) folders of scholars' information to go back to when you are creating curriculum. 

Get out in the community and be a part of their world! Go to their sporting events on the weekend. Frequent the same libraries they do. Listen to the latest song by Chance, or whatever music may appeal to your scholars. Buy a pair of shoes the kids are wearing, or at least go to the store they buy their shoes from. Eat at local restaurants. Watch the students play in their out of school sports. Be out and visible. Be at school and be visible. Be there for scholars!

CRT - Culturally relevant (or responsive) teaching - Relevant meaning we ensure the curriculum is a evidence of the world of which our scholars experience everyday, and responsive to ensure we are making decisions that are best for our students in that moment! 

Let's get to work!


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