Black Teachers Matter: Blake Lyle

Why did you choose teaching?
I chose to teach because I believe that a truly holistic education has the capacity to change the trajectory of someone’s life. I think that education can be the force that drives systematic and cultural change in this country. I want to have a positive impact on the lives of young people.

Does representation matter in the classroom? Why or why not?
Representation matters, especially in the classroom. Students deserve to be represented in the material and content they consume, and they should also see educators and leaders that look like them and have a similar lived experience. Only about 20% of America’s teachers are Black or of color. About 2% are black males. I specifically chose to teach elementary because of this gap. Transformational change can’t happen if there is not equal representation in education. Recent studies have shown the positive impact teachers of colors have on all students.

Can you name another educator, who had an impact on you as a teacher?
An educator who had an impact on me as a teacher was my 5th-grade teacher, Mr. Johnson. It was the first time in my life that I had a black male teacher. The relationship that I was able to build with him will be forever cherished.  Seeing someone that looked like me in this role changed my understanding of what was possible. It broadened my perspective of careers that I can pursue as an adult.  On top of that, I felt that he understood on a deeper level than all my other teachers.

What is your vision of a leader?
As a leader, I want to foster a classroom culture that has respect, grace, and courtesy at its foundation. I believe these are the essential seeds required to grow a strong community.  I want my students to feel empowered to make decisions, take risks, and ultimately see themselves as creators. For me, the measure of a good leader is how people are able to construct their true selves under my leadership.

What are your current goals? Personal or professional?
My professional goals are to eventually open my own Montessori school. I want to build a school with the principles of respect, grace, courtesy, and cultural relevance at its core.  My personal goals are to always be willing to learn new things and to challenge myself. I want to always work to be a better and more understanding individual.

What is the hardest and best part of teaching?
The most difficult part of teaching is dealing with systematic structures that place politics over the needs of students. The best part of teaching is seeing young people make progress, reach their goals, and grow confident.

How do you stay motivated?
Curiosity motivates me. When I learn about new teaching strategies or new scientific discoveries, I visualize a better and brighter future.  The possibilities of tomorrow are the ultimate inspiration.

If you could pass on any wisdom to your students, what would you share?
If I could pass on any wisdom to my students it would be: Stay curious, be kind, believe in yourself, and do what feels good in your heart.

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