As our RECN Core Team's Statement on #BlackLivesMatter says, “Some of us engage in courageous conversation, some provide trainings, some organize, some protest, some stand in solidarity, some write letters to governance, some talk to anyone who will listen but none of us sit in silence, none of us sit by and watch it happen. Be brave, be courageous, find your path and travel it. We love you, we see you, and know we are on the path with you.”
We might have protested/still protest, post on social media, have courageous conversations with family and friends, and even read books to strengthen our own knowledge. In order to truly make change we must start with ourselves and our scope of influence. As educators, We MUST have these courageous conversations in the fall with our students and fellow coworkers. It is our duty to educate the future. Let’s educate them for the better of the whole, not the selected few. There is so much that can be done, so I will stick to a couple of highlights:
Curricula - Should be culturally relevant. Most is not, so it is our job to get on those curriculum teams and use our voice to get better textbooks into the classrooms. AND if we notice they are not, use your classroom voice and teach outside the curriculum (use other resources, bring in outside speakers with other points of view etc.). Teach your students to be investigators and active participants of their own education and remind them that there are ALWAYS at least 2 sides to every story. Encourage them through projects, collaborations, and presentations that provides that deeper level of learning and investigation.
Recruit and retain Black educators - Try to get onto the hiring committee at your school. If you see new Black staff in your school, bring them to a RECN meetup, check in with them (or ask us to check in with them), or simply become a coworker friend. We are stronger together.
Black History Month Year - Incorporate and feature Black and Brown accomplishments and inventions year round. Make it in tandem to your lessons, our students need to see their ancestors in positive, fierce, accomplished, amazing, groundbreaking lights. Intertwine aspects of Black Lives Matter week, starting in Sept and don’t stop until June. While your at it, evaluate if your teaching is culturally responsive: ask yourself “Am I valuing and incorporating students’ culture in my daily instruction?”
Change your lens, not your filter. This is not a one and done type of action step, it’s a shift in our thinking and teaching. Once you shift your focus from being a filter that’s used whenever it's convenient or fits into the syllabus to focusing on how we view every step of our planning with our lens of black lives matter, we show our black and brown students that they matter.
Links for reference and further reading:
3 Tips to Make Any Lesson More Culturally Responsive by Zaretta Hammond
Black Lives Matter at School - Website of resources