In a world with immense diversity, it’s imperative to educate the younger generation about the LGBTQIAP+ community and foster inclusivity from an early age. Nairobi Colon, affectionately known as Teacher Robi among their students, is a shining example of how this can be achieved. At 28 years old, Colon—who goes on TikTok by @robigotsoles—shares their experiences as a sixth-grade art teacher while seamlessly integrating lessons on inclusivity and diversity alongside the standard curriculum.
Colon’s dedication to inclusive teaching extends far beyond art. They create a safe and welcoming learning atmosphere where all students are acknowledged for their authentic selves. In a recent TikTok video, the teacher demonstrated how they educate their students on these crucial concepts while also promoting inclusivity, especially regarding their own identity. They began by introducing themselves to their class and explaining their pronouns: “My name is Teacher Robi. I am non-binary. I use they/them pronouns.”
They shared personal anecdotes, from their upbringing in Brooklyn to their achievement of a master’s degree in Art Education from Rutgers University. They even shared photos of family members and their beloved pet dog to create a deeper connection with their students. To keep their young students engaged, Colon incorporated an interactive introduction. They asked, “Raise your hand if you have a pet,” seamlessly blending personal connection with the lesson.
Their approach received commendation for its effectiveness and brevity. @lukeasalways noted, “I would have loved having you as a teacher changing the world and making it a safe space for others.” @biancajw2 said, “I love this. They are teaching with such openness and I’m here for it.” @themehreg4n commented, “If only we had teachers like them growing up.”
As they embarked on their sixth year of teaching, Colon assumed new responsibilities, including becoming the 6th-grade level chairperson and DEI (Diversity Equity Inclusion) coordinator, all while continuing to teach art classes. The outpouring of support for their educational approach was overwhelming, with people expressing admiration for the positive impact they have on their students. Despite daily challenges as a non-binary educator online, including prejudice and misunderstanding, They remain steadfast in their mission to spread positivity while promoting a better understanding of gender identities.
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