Into My Classroom

Fourth Year Biology Teacher Sharing My Musings With The World

Book Review: A Handbook for Teachers of African American Children

with 2 comments

While in grad school, my mentor suggested that I read a book entitled A Handbook for Teachers of African American Children by Baruti K. Kafele.  The suggestion came about after me revealing the many frustrations I had with teaching my students.  I purchased the book a while back, but never got a chance to really read it until now.  In this post, I will highlight some of the main points of each chapter along with my reflections.

I. The Missing Component – In this section, Kafele emphasizes that in order to properly teach African American children, one must throughoughly understand the culture and history in order to relate to the students.  By knowing this and also educating your students about their culture as well, students will gain a sense of purpose.  African history is the missing component of the education of our children.  I really like how Kafele points out that during slavery, one was not only stripped of physical freedom, but also enslaved the mind.  Majority of our students remain to be enslaved.  As a teacher of African American children, I can help my students succeed by freeing their mind to discover various possibilities.

While reading this chapter, I thought it would be a great idea to present an African American scientist or history in science to the students.  Facts learned throughout the week could be offered as extra credit.  I would also love to begin building a classroom library of books regarding African American history and scientists.  I saw a book in Barnes & Noble last month documenting the history of black people in Memphis.  I’m going to have to go and purchase it to be my first library addition.

II.  A Mindset for Teaching – This chapter begins with information regarding your purpose, mission, and vision for teaching.  Every school has such information so why not incorporate it into your classroom.  By determining your purpose, mission, and vision, you are setting the direction for your classroom.  Your purpose is a comprehensive statement of what you want your students to be able to achieve.  Your mission is to be aligned with your purpose and controls your reasoning for everything you do in the classroom.  Having a vision allows you to see where your students will be at the end of the year and also where you plan to be as a professional teacher.

This chapter also reviews the process of setting goals, and suggests that you even post them in your classroom in order to be accountable to your colleagues and students.  Finally, there is mention of modeling proper behavior as a professional, such as attire and using proper english.  The chapter ends with stating that one should perform daily reflection in order to grow and learn as a teacher.  Once the school year begins, I hope to use this blog to record my daily reflections.

After reading the first two chapters, the book got really boring to me.  The remaining chapters mentioned various topics that I feel every pre-service teacher experiences in a degree program.  For example, there is a chapter regarding differentiating your instruction, but not many tips are listed.  It just lists various methods of things such as cooperative grouping, brain-based learning, and so on. 

Overall I feel that this is a book that can be applied to all students and not just those of African-American students in particular.  I do not see any one factor of this book, besides that of relating to the culture of African-American students, that is a magic key to unlock the mysteries of the low achievement of my students. 


Written by Ashley Erin

June 16, 2010 at 11:54 am

Posted in Book Reviews

2 Responses

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  1. Hey – have you read Never Work Harder Than Your Students… ? I got it from Lynch and it was interesting in a reflective and revising kind of way. Can I borrow the book you wrote this post about? It sounds like something I need to read.


    August 2, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    • I’ve never read that but it’s definitely a topic I’m interested in! I’ll bring the book tomorrow.


      August 8, 2010 at 6:29 pm

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