These Brampton teachers are acknowledging that they’re black in the classroom on their own podcast
Two Brampton teachers turn their lunchtime conversations about what it’s like to be Black in the classroom into a podcast that explores the importance of representation and brings their lived experience to their school.
Alyssa Gray-Tyghter and Andre Mattrasingh, who both work at Cheyne Middle School, first met about three years ago, around the time Mattrasingh was given tenure on the Peel District School Board.
It wasn’t long before Mattrasingh found a friend and mentor in Gray-Tyghter, who had been teaching for around 11 years.
They soon realized that their lunchtime chats could be useful for other teachers and eventually came up with the idea for the podcast. teachers like us.
“When we thought about who we are as teachers, we didn’t feel like the other teachers around us,” Gray-Tyghter said. “There was no representation for students and they were steered down strange career paths because no one understood their lived experience.”
CLOCK | “We didn’t feel like the other teachers around us,” say the teachers behind the new podcast:
Black students are often pigeonholed, they noted. Not only that, they found that the reality of the social issues students face are often not part of the standard curriculum.
According to the most recent staff census, 7.7 percent of teachers and educators identify as Black, Caribbean, or Afro-Caribbean, the Peel board says.
Teaching wasn’t their first career plan. Gray-Tyghter worked in public relations for several years while Mattrasingh became interested in family law. But both ended up teaching to bring their personal experiences into the school system, where it seemed few teachers looked like them.
“I feel like I’ve been able to bring many of the personal lessons that life has taught me to the table and help my peers and help these students as they think about or work through different situations,” Mattrasingh said.
From mental health in schools to the realities of teaching and learning during the pandemic to the importance of seeing teachers who look like them, the pair say the podcast focuses on “real conversations.”
“I think we need to open our perspectives on what it means to be a learner in today’s society and what it means to be an educator in today’s society,” Gray-Tyghter said.
“I really think that in order to improve teaching, we need to get to a point where we don’t focus so much on those curriculum expectations, but more on the personalities, the identities of the students,” he said.
“How do we make them better?
For more stories about Black Canadians’ experiences—from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community—see Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.