The internet has been abuzz ever since Barry White, Jr., a fifth grade English teacher at Ashley Park PreK-8 School in Charlotte, North Carolina, was featured on ABC News for creating a personalized handshake with each of his students. Watch it here:
I love it. Period.
Yesterday, another video emerged featuring, Jerusha Willenborg, an elementary school teacher at Mueller Elementary School inWichita Kansas, doing the same thing with her students. Watch here:
According to reports, Willenborg has been creating unique handshakes with her students for over 3 years. She even said so in this post:
But some people are still mad. One viewer stated:
The reason why it matters who did it first is because it was a black male teacher. He tapped into an authentic part of his experience to connect with the kids on a personal level. It worked well on a multitude of levels. Pablo Friere (I can’t explain who he is right now but he was an authority on pedagogy) would caution this becoming popular or trendy. The elaborate handshakes are more that just a cool thing to do. It’s actually an old part of the urban culture in communities of color. Engage the culture, yes. Inauthentically mimic it, no. A LOT of teachers mess up by mimicking the behavior without first understanding the nuances in the behavior they’re seeing.
What do you think? I’m not going to lie, I was a little annoyed because it seemed like she did the EXACT same thing as the male teacher. However, I think the media is to blame here, not the white teacher. The videos showing the teachers doing the handshakes were rolled one after the other, so it seemed shady. It seemed as though one teacher was copying the other, but clearly, as her social media post indicates, Jerusha has been doing this for some time.