White Fragility, Teacher Fragility, or Both?

(I will attempt to remember everything that happened in class this day because I want it to be as genuine as I can remember it, so that I can come back to this blog often and read, reflect, learn and grow in this)

The other day I was watching Hidden Figures with my class, I told them I wanted them to watch it not only because it is a good movie, but in order to look at dynamics depicted in the movie and compare them to today.  One student, a student of color, remarked :Great, this is gonna get me upset.”  I didn’t acknowledge that remark, but started the movie (Which, as I now reflect on the situation, was my first mistake).

Towards the end of the hour, I stopped the movie and started talking about the dynamics students observed.  At first students were hesitant to bring up any issues, and I asked what they thought the main theme of the movie was, and they replied Racism.  We then started to talk about that a little bit, and I brought up the idea of white privilege.  As soon at those words left my mouth, the same student scoffed and turned away from me.  I kept moving forward and tried to talk about what that meant (there were 3 white students, 3 native American students and on African-american student in the class) and how this was a negative impact.  The student laughed and turned away when I talked about how this is something that I know I need to work hard on, and when I asked her why she reacted that way she replied that it was a habit when she is anxious. I continued the discussion (mistake two- at least as far as I am aware of at this time).

She interjected at one point, asking why we should talk about it in class when it wasn’t going to change a damn thing anyway.  I replied that in order for things to change, these conversations needed to happen- that if we didn’t talk about them that we were supporting the ideology of white privilege.  These were conversations we needed to continue to bring up in order to change what we observe happening today.  She said something to me in a very rude, snarky tone (and I can’t recall exactly what it was she said, it was the tone and sharpness that hit me- and it was shock in other SoC’s faces that I remember, not the words). I commented that we are trying to discuss a topic that causes a very emotional response from parties, and that she did not need to be disrespectful to me (Another mistake I now see- part of my white fragility).

She commented in an almost equal tone as before that she was sorry I took it as her being disrespectful, she didn’t mean and that these conversations set her off.  She turned away from me and I was taken slightly aback and didn’t know how to proceed.  I reiterated that these are conversations that need to happen and that will continue to happen in class, then class was over.  I was able to once again demonstrate what I now know as white fragility- I was able to remove myself from the situation.

I have a unique working environment, working at a juvenile center.  There are many issues that are amplified at my workplace, as well as many rules and procedures that directly oppose what I typically did at a public school.  I need to find ways to be able to address this topic in this place.

As I have reflected on this event, and continue to do- I realize one glaring thing: I was not prepared at the time to handle her reaction to the conversation.  Was I unwilling, as a teacher to deviate from what I wanted to address or was it because I was a white male in a position of power?  I wanted to ask about her reaction, but I also did not want her to be an unwilling representative of African-American students.  Until this point, we have had a good rapport in class, I didn’t want to compromise that and have her shut down on me.  There are a ton of other things/feelings/excuses I could write here but they would all be protecting my white fragility.  I realize that as a while male teacher, I am the totally wrong person to hold all the power in these conversations.

So I write this, in this public place, not as a post to inflame.  I write this to have a permanent place to have this so I may keep coming back and reminding myself that I need to do better, I have to do better, it is my responsibility to do better.  I need to research ways to have these conversations and be prepared for the strong emotions they illicit, I need to be able to be supportive, respectful and have the ability to listen to them.  This was not easy to decide to blog about, nor easy to tweet about.

I need help to do this work, this is not something I can do alone but something that I can not allow to be hidden as well.



OM Logs- Scratch Version

Here is my (not so latest) version of OM Logs in Scratch.  Be advised that even though I am trying to make it as usable as possible, there are a ton of factors that might make results odd, please let me know and I will work to correct the errors.

(NOTE: when you drag your numbers to the square you want them, you need to click on them to set their place, it’s not the best setup, but I’m working on making it better)



I am finding the challenge of coding these OM problems fun, and hopefully they are more teacher friendly to use in class.

Let me know if there are ways for me to make these better as I keep coding.


OM in Scratch!

So a routine question I have when I tell people I work with OM is that Teachers want a better medium than an image to project on the screen.  There have been many other awesome colleagues who have blogged or tweeted about taking an OM problem and making manipulatives of the choices to allow students to physically interact with the problem.  Since I have also been kicking the coding side of the realm lately, I decided to start converting my OM problems into Scratch Interactive programs.  Here is my first program


Trig Ratios:



I encourage and appreciate input on this new venture in making awesome OM problems more accessible for Students and Teachers.




Coding 2/3- Open Middle Problem

Directions: Using the following command blocks (at most one time each), create code that will place Scratch 2/3rd of the way along a line.

You may use the digits 0-9, at most one time each, to fill in the boxes to create your code.

coding 2-3.PNGIf Scratch was 1/3rd of the way along the line, he would be at point ( ___ , ___ )


Note: we are making Scratch 30% of his size to see the line and proportion better

2- Way Frequency Table- Open Middle Problem

Directions: Using the digits 1 to 9, at most once each, fill in the boxes in this two way frequency table to make the statements true.



1. Students were four times as likely to wear low athletic shoes than high casual shoes

2. Three-sevenths of the students who wear low shoes wear casual ones.

3. More students wore athletic high tops than casual shoes


Other Questions:

How many students were surveyed?

Can you find the probability that a student is wearing any of the shoe choices?

What does this data tell you?