Ten Rules for Woke Teachers

We came to an important realisation: books could only point in a general direction; the rest was up to us.” 
-Huey P. Newton

I wrote these rules for myself back in August. I was apprehensive to share them, as I did not want to be mistaken for dictating anyone’s actions. This is not just a set of rules, this is a critical frame of standards for us as teachers of the revolution. After reading, if you have any rules of your own, feel free to share them in my comments. 

1. When you TEACH, tell the TRUTH.

Diminish your bias before entering the classroom ...and realize #staywoke is not just a hashtag, it’s a process.

2. If you are teaching to the test, you are not  teaching. 

Children need us to teach from our hearts to theirs.

3. The more time you spend on differentiation, the less time you spend on discipline. 

Understanding each individual academic and social emotional need our the children is truly effective classroom management. 

4. If you are not teaching students to ask critical questions, you are perpetuating mental slavery. 

Do not feed information, rather, provide rigorous texts and tasks for students to grapple with, evaluate, and grow as learners. 

5. If you don't know, ask

As you organize and ground yourself in this work, remain committed to being a learner, not an all knowing teacher. Model the growth mindset. 

6. Love is the core of every lesson. 

It is your responsibility as an educator to figure out how to get the students to recognize the love in all issues that are faced. This is the work. 

7. Teach to be changed. 

8. Teach to enact change. 

9. There's no such thing as a reading level. 

Students can read any “level” of text if you teach them the how to use their tools and strategies while reading. If you believe they can’t read, it is because you believe you can’t teach. 

10. “Activism” does not consist of or indulge in blame

Teach your students that activism is rooted in the idea that we have a collective responsibility 

to organize & implement solutions. Blame does not heal. Non-judgment heals. Compassion heals. 

Forgiveness heals. Acceptance heals. Love heals.


  1. 11. Turn every I can’t into an I can.

    Students espically ones of color coming from the ghetto low income neighborhoods are often told you can’t be this or you won’t be that instead of being taught how to do this and that. When my students step into my 8th grade reading classroom and we are doing read alouds they aren’t allowed to say Ms.Ricketts that words too big I don’t know it or I can’t read it. We pause as a class and use our phonemic awareness skills break down the word and pull it together and once they can I remind them that all you have to do is try and you will see that you can read those big words . For too long these babies have been told they are stupid and can’t do shit so they start to believe and accept it my greatest challenge is to reach them the opposite in 10 months.

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