Ds Scholarship

Teachers Can Help Minority Students Recognize Their Strengths (Opinion)

How do I help students from historically marginalized groups think about their identities in a positive light?

Teachers can make a big difference by encouraging young people to think about their backgrounds in a new way. This is something I wrote recently on the topic of Character Lab As tip of the week:

I’m not smart enough… I don’t have the experiences they are looking for… I’m not qualified.

This is what I told my mentor when he encouraged me to apply for a Ph.D. in Psychology. Software. I was a first-generation Latinx college student from a working-class immigrant family. I thought there was absolutely no way to get in.

Annoyed by my belief in these beliefs, my mentor explained that it was precisely because From my diverse identity and living experiences that would benefit the scientific community.

Now, I am a PhD candidate and study the psychological factors that influence students throughout their education. I’ve learned that students from historically marginalized groups typically encounter these kinds of limited beliefs about who they are in society. The difference is that I had someone support me to think differently.

My mentor’s words changed the way I thought about my background and identity. I started asking myself new questions: What unique strengths have I developed from my life experiences, and how does that make me an asset to society? How can I use these strengths to help me succeed?

in my researchI encourage students from historically marginalized backgrounds to reflect on the unique knowledge, skills, and perspectives they have acquired throughout their lives, including those resulting from their experiences with adversity. Students who engage in this thinking learn that they are assets to their schools and community. This shift makes them more likely to continue to face academic difficulties.

For example, one middle school student in my studies wrote: “My parents have always worked hard. My father has two jobs and my mother has one. I have learned to be resourceful for my surroundings because they usually don’t have time to help me. I think because of this, I will become creative, as an inventor. or world.

By noting what they have gained from their backgrounds and identities, students see value in their life experiences and how this can be an advantage rather than a liability. Forming a positive link between their identity and education can increase a sense of self-worth and lead to greater motivation in challenging environments—just as my conversation with my mentor did for me.

Attempt Answer the following questions yourself and encourage the young people in your life to do the same: How about you was overlooked or undervalued? What strengths did you gain from your unique life experiences? How can you use these abilities to help you achieve your goals – and help the world?


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