On August 25, 2015, America’s top Latino journalist, Jorge Ramos was removed from Donald Trump’s Press Conference in Iowa. Major media coverages across the globe have tuned in, discussed and debated the nature of the dialogue between Ramos and Trump ― but none have closed in on the very point that the same confrontational dialogue displayed in the press conference translates to what many youths experience in urban educational settings in conflict with teachers and administrators in response to the idea of classroom management. Although these two parallels are symbolically different in context, the notion of intolerance, division and negligence of voice remains true to these two paradigms, which migrates through the classroom space that results from traditional educational practices that encourages the overexertion of classroom management as an emblem for effective teaching and learning strategies.

In challenging yourself as an administrator or teacher in an urban educational setting, you’ll need to step back and think about what are you really managing? After you have thought to yourself, generate a dialogue with your Co-teacher [if you have one] or colleagues in reference to each other’s management plans and draw out some examples of how you’ll manage the classroom space given various situations of your choosing? Consider what this process looks like for you and the student? What feelings are generated on both ends?

Once you’ve completed these small tasks you’ll need to address an important question— How will you remain student-centered and culturally relevant while at the same time contributing to the ongoing process of building relationships in situations where you cannot get through to your students.

Published case studies on effective classroom management, graduate programs and training, and even administrative workshops examines the adolescent classrooms by which all speaks to interventions in regards to behavior. In reality the way this concept is often motioned out within the classroom space is by the maintenance and management of movement and voice.

The most expressive elements in youth culture is movement and voice. Both of which convey a sense of freedom and belonging especially for students. It is imperative for teachers and administrators to understand the implications of limiting normative vibrant, for which for some students are cultural.

Have you’ve ever been in a situation where one of your Latina/o students is speaking loud and you as the teacher address it with— “Why are you so loud? Bring it down a bit; or the classic calm down please— we’re right next to each other. No need to yell” and the student replies, “yo Ms. or Mr., that’s how we speak— Spanish people are loud”.

This dialogue can become humorous in that moment but you cannot reply by saying “no they are not, it’s just you”. Again that relates to the initial issue of management of voice while at the same time there needs to be a deep understanding that in reality students bring into the classroom distinct realities of their knowing of the world and the process by which to navigate through it. And a lot of that comes with the notion of being expressive. The point here for the urban educator is to gravitate towards understanding that cultural vibrant matters and it is a reality of being for many students. You as the educator should generate dialogue that enriches the schema of your classroom management plans by including the cultural understandings generated from the student’s understanding of what best approaches are viable and meets their needs in regards to the idea of management.

―If you feel you cannot generate an idea on where you stand or what value you’ve placed on classroom management — just think about how much time you’ve spent constructing it without your student’s input. Teachers go even as far as a month constructing to their knowledge an effective classroom management plan, only to have it fall apart on them in the classroom. You cannot build management without relationships. If you are aware that there is a clear division between your students and you, relating to the on going development and planning of the classroom expectations and procedures— it is urgent that you begin to include students in that process so that they can effectively assist you with drawing meaningful ways to best support them in situations that fall outside of those classroom expectations.

Takeaways For The Classroom:

What can we learn from Jorge Ramos removal from Donald Trump’s Press Conference?

This article in no way positions Donald Trump as the teacher and Jorge Ramos as the student. This article looks at the conventions of the conversations during the press conference and how parts of the speech between them are characteristics of classic contentious interactions between many students and teachers.

This article offers a play-by-play examination of the dialogue between Jorge Ramos and Donald trump and draws on comparisons from traditional approaches to classroom management that teaches students to often follow a norm that is separate from who they are.

Lastly, this article will share responses that counter traditional approaches to classroom management in order to provide teachers with an understanding of the importance to build a relevant management plan that includes student input.

The press conference space itself will be your classroom.

Connections with dialogue between Jorge Ramos and Donald Trump:

Jorge Ramos rose out of his seat and said:

“Mr. Trump, I have a question about Immigration. Your immigration plan”…

Trump deliberately ignores Ramos, acknowledges Ramos with a quick glance and recites:

“Okay, who’s next”?

As he calls on another member of the audience. Ramos continues to deliver his point and Trump replies by saying:

“Excuse me, sit down, you weren’t called. Sit down. Sit down. Sit downnnn. Go ahead [points back at audience member]”.

Ramos: [as speech overlaps with Trump]: “I’m a journalist, immigrant and a citizen I have a right to ask a question”.

Trump: [as speech overlaps with Ramos]: “No you don’t, you haven’t been called”.

Ramos: [as speech overlaps with Trump]: “I have the right to ask a question”.

Trump: “Go back to Univision”.

Ramos: [as speech overlap with Trump]: “You cannot deport 11 million people”…

Trump: [as speech overlaps with Ramos]: “Go ahead…Go ahead” [points back at a member of the audience to receive a question].

Trump turns his face towards the opposite end of the room, motions a mechanic with his mouth similar to sucking his teeth and it was at that moment when Keith Schiller from Trumps security staff walks overs to Ramos and initiates the process of removal.

Ramos: [as speech overlaps with trump who wants Ramos to sit down]: “You cannot deny citizenship to children”…

Schiller: [as he approaches Ramos]: “You’re being disruptive”…

Ramos: [as Schiller slowly backs Ramos towards the exit]: “I’m a reporter and I have the right”… “Don’t touch me sir, you cannot touch me”… “I have the right to ask a question”.

Schiller: [as speech overlaps with Ramos]: Yes, in order. [Grabs Ramos arms and escorted him out].

Comparisons between student’s experience with classroom management and the interactions between Trump and Ramos:

Scenario: You’re delivering a lesson and you can choose the content that you actually teach such as Mathematics, Sciences, English Language Arts, History, Foreign Language or any subject for that matter.

  • A student either stands up and calls out or sits and calls out without raising his/her hands and you intentionally give them a brief look but call on another student who has their hand raised to make a point very clear that in the classroom space there is a set of expectations students should follow before speaking even though you knew that the initial student had something meaningful to add to the classroom space. We can always make this scenario be that you’ve allowed the initial student to share their idea but afterwards addressed to that student that “they should raise their hands first” before speaking.
  • A student either stands up and calls out or sits and calls out without raising his/her hands something that is completely nonrelated to instruction and you receive it as a disruption to the classroom instruction and environment.

Many teachers get caught up with both scenarios, one more than the other, but immediately it spirals into an issue of confronting power within the classroom space. What is more beneficial to understand is that for teachers the power struggle is usually more among themselves than with students. As teachers we become more observant of the nature of conflict as it is being played out within the classroom space that it forces us to think from within ourselves what should we do. That process of thinking is so delayed that in that moment our immediate reaction takes control and we begin to lose bits and pieces of something that deep down we know later on we’ll have to rebuild — and that’s relationships.

So how do we move beyond that because this report is about how to maintain a sense of understanding in being student-centered and culturally relevant while maintaining the critical aspect of teaching and learning —authentic and meaningful relationships. Every kid needs a champion and teachers need to learn how to create magic.

Moving Beyond a Traditional Mindset:

In moving beyond a tradition mindset in how classroom management should be laid out, you as a teacher in an urban educational setting have to be community immersive and understand that students carry within them their distinct knowing and being of the world. For many youths, voice is just but one part of the action of expression and engagement within their daily lives. The second crucial part is movement. By taking away those aspects in your classroom through a traditional approach that configures in many teachers that (1) speech should never overlap, (2) student’s sit, I teach, they retain instruction, I proceed ­­— seen not heard model and (3) that teachers need to equip themselves with an understanding of the adolescent classroom and adolescent behavior — for which none of the three are written from within the realities of students.

During the Friendship Public Charter School’s 12th annual Community Convocation at the Washington Convention Center, Dr. Christopher Emdin shared why teaching students to follow a norm that is separate from who they are actually means doing them a disservice in teaching and learning which forces them to remove pieces of who they really are to get them to where you want them to be.

Dr. Emdin discusses two research studies that observes specific behaviors of youths who exhibit Hip Hop tendency in classrooms, which many of the populations that we teach in within an urban educational setting draw to as an expression of who they are. He shared that one of the research findings spoke of “the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain— the part of the brain that controls active behavior, active learning and engagement”. He described that the medial prefrontal cortex “was firing at multiple levels when students were engaged in the process of freestyle” [an act of performance that exhibits within that moment the continuation and collaboration of sharing ideas through movement and speech that it is engaging for the audience]. Dr. Emdin then describes a second study that observed the same population of students and shared that the FMRI [Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging] of the dorsolateral region part of the brain was acting “funky” [the dorsolateral region part of the brain is the part of the brain that controls appropriateness and behavior].

Dr. Emdin concluded from these two reports that “the part of the brain that controls what you want to be exhibited in the formal classrooms actually gets activated when they are outside the classroom space like when they are engaging in hip-hop and that during the traditional methods of teaching and learning the brain that control “appropriateness and behavior” are not as responsive as you’ll want them to be. Which means that if “teachers engage in the type of teaching practices that are for others and not for our young people —you are actually engaging in practices that forces students to enact behaviors that allows the dorsolateral region of their brain to not engage properly in that classroom” (Emdin, Keynote Address; 2014).

Dr. Emdin makes the connections with higher suspension rates among youths of color and states that we as teachers “often times think it is a reflection of their inability to be successful in the classroom but it is actually an inability of the classroom setting to be able to activate their medial prefrontal cortex which is what’s activated when they are outside of the classroom” (Emdin, Keynote Address; 2014).

Post removal of Jorge Ramos — what also happens in the School’s Hallways

I think it is very relevant to mention the issue of classroom removals and relate it back to the experience of Jorge Ramos. You can almost think of Schiller as the Dean who comes in while there’s a confrontation between a teacher and a student. Ramos experience truly captures that dialogue often displayed in classroom across the United States. Jorge Ramos said to Schiller “don’t touch me sir” as he was being removed from the press conference room. How many times as a teacher you’ve saw or heard that in your experience as a teacher?

—And be real with yourself about it.

The classic scenario that tells of a student who is removed from class for reasons that they felt like they did not do wrong. You see them wrapped around with emotions and you ask yourself, “Why are they tripping”? Because deep down you concluded that they were wrong. So there’s this big confusion about where reality lies in this paradigm. Nonetheless, once they are removed you may see it as the situation is out of your hands. But just know these moments could have been avoided by lesson planning and generating dialogue together with students prior to instruction or during that engages expressions of freedom and belonging — Voice and Movement.

Another symbolic event that occurred in Iowa that is highly discussed in media is the confrontation that happened outside of the conference room when one of Trump’s supporters told Ramos to “get out of my country”. This relates to that administrator or teacher who has no idea what happened in the classroom with the other teacher but joins in on the situation that initially they weren’t a part of. What this does is make that student feel like no one understands or is listening to them. Later, ironically in name, a young woman named Hope comes out to speak with Ramos about letting him back in press conference. She approaches Ramos with a calm tone of voice, almost as though she understands, and Ramos looks up and finally feels as though he is being listened to but that suddenly is questioned when she said: “of course, but you have to be called on” after she asks Ramos if he wants to come back into the press conference. Point here is that a few words could either harm or benefit relationships.

Lastly what was lost and even left out of the media’s reports between Ramos and Trump within that dialogue was how the camera shifted and captured what the audience knew was more important in that moment. You saw in the conference room how the heads of the audience shifted to the back of that space, following Ramos and Schiller until Ramos was exited by security staff. Even the news personnel in that moment announced what just happened in that moment. Those same activities of bearing witness will happen in your classroom and students will shift their attention towards what’s happening for multiple reasons, but one important reason that goes unnoticed is that deep down they understand the needs of that student within that particular moment.

What does this mean for the Urban Educator?

This means that you’ll need to position movement and voice within the planning process of the classroom culture. Notice how freedom and belonging is played outside the classroom space, within the hallways and lunchroom setting where you’ll see how students engage with each other. Focus on bringing that same atmosphere within the walls of their classroom.

In regards to your management plans, you’ll need to open up this process to students. Have them layout parts of your plan that they feel they’ll have conflict with because it is completely taking away from who they are. Generate meaningful dialogues and you’ll see how it’ll benefit the relationship aspect that goes beyond the classroom walls.

By doing this you’ll position yourself to be community immersive which in the end will offer you those cultural context that vibrates through the student’s reality which will inform you on effective approaches to position voice and movement.

Lastly, accept that the best management plan is one that is truly built and based off the value of relationships.