As always the BIPOC I follow on twitter make me a better teacher and a better person. Their willingness to be there, in spite of the abuse they face, is a gift to the rest of us. In my twenty years of teaching I have never done a good job with Black History Month. My sins here are ones of omission rather than ones of commission.
I’ve simply never really addressed Black History Month. I’ve worked for a number of years now to include a wider range of stories and history in my classroom in order to ensure my third graders are learning better than I did at their age, but Black History Month (and Hispanic Heritage Month and Women’s History Month) got ignored. I think I feared giving it attention would free me from trying to do better on a daily basis and I didn’t want that to happen.
This year I am facing that fear and trying to do better. We start our day with a morning meeting and that includes a morning message. Our messages have an interactive piece that is used to review and practice things we are learning (or have learned, hopefully). I have been using the text of the message to get in some word study (changing beginning or ending sounds of words, contractions, plurals, and such). I’ve decided that for February our messages will focus on Black History Month.
We missed school on the 1st for a snow day and tomorrow is a teacher workday so we’ll get this going Tuesday. It won’t be the only thing we do to celebrate and learn about Black History Month but it will ensure that we start each day with that focus.
I welcome any suggestions on how to do this better. If there are things I have missed or screwed up, please let me know. If you have thoughts on what else I should definitely include as the month goes on, I’d love to hear that too.