Mixed-race teacher relates his experience to mixed-race students and builds trust

I’m a mixed race person and I teach creative writing twice a week in a local  high school. Many of my students are also mixed race. A lot of the work in our class dealt with identity, culture, and family. At the beginning of the school year, these students were rightfully standoffish. I was new and hadn’t done anything yet to earn their respect. They would spend most of my teaching time on their phones or chatting with their friends. But with every lesson and writing prompt, I would share something from my life experiences, either being “othered”, mediating between different cultures, or about the many people in my extended family. They have since opened up leaps and bounds. They share in class more. They pay attention and are engaged in writing honest and heartfelt stories. They know that I will listen and that I can relate in a way that other teachers in their lives can’t. This is one reason why it is important to have teachers in the classroom who are representative of their students.