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February 24, 2016

African American History Month in Kindergarten

February is Here 

Does your school teach about Black History Month? Call me naive, but I never realized that there were some schools which did not allow this. There are other schools that neither promote nor discourage the focus of the month. Where do you stand on this? 

Personally - now, hear me out - I don't think we should focus on Black History Month. Are you still hanging with me? Don't run or yell yet! I believe that we should focus on Culturally Responsive Teaching. I believe that we should be fostering a classroom community in which all levels of diversity are be represented. 


Before your imagination begins to run wild, and you judge this post, let me clarify. The reason for this post is I want you, as a teacher, to self reflect for a moment. I want you to think about your teaching. Do you only spend a month teaching about famous African Americans, Women, Native Americans and Latinos during their designated months? By no means am I faulting you for that if you do. Believe me, I get it. Being a teacher is stressful. We have A LOT to get in during 180 days. We have to hit all of our standards and make sure our students are meeting their benchmark. And now I want you to add more to your curriculum?! I bet you are just shaking your head or rolling your eyes at me. That's fine. However, today I am challenging you! Asking that you branch out of the mold. Break free from it and run!

My Challenge To YOU!

Here it is. I want you be to teaching about PEOPLE all year! Get representative books of all nationalities and cultures in your book shelf. Swap up your reading series for a diverse read aloud. Integrate it into your everyday curriculum. I feel that just focusing on a group of people for a month, because that is what it becomes, is not enough for our kids.

Take a look at your students. Tell me what you see. I see a room full of beautiful students. In my room, they are all Caucasian. Perhaps your situation is similar or perhaps you look around and see a group of diverse students. 

No matter our classroom dynamic, we owe it to our students to represent all children. Be it so that they see themselves in a book or so that they learn about someone new. Children are so perceptive. Our goal as an educator is to build them up! Start now and don't stop, We are shaping the leaders of tomorrow. I don't know about you, but I want our future leaders to be passionate and empathetic. Are you fostering that in your classroom? If yes - woohoo! But how can you do more? If not, that's okay! How can you?

Easy Ideas

Now that I have either traumatized you or empowered you, I need to give you a How To. Honestly, for me - it is second nature. I am constantly purchasing books and that is the first thing to do. Picture books are the easiest way to represent all children in your classroom. I have a bookshelf that I change each month, so it is a great visual as well. 

You can also teach explicitly about a historical or modern figure. Teaching about plants?

 Boom - George Washington Carver The Little Plant Doctor: A Story about George Washington Carver

Teaching about the Olympics or being a strong person? 

There are SO many ways to represent people in your classroom. I feel that in primary classrooms it is easy to use read alouds to represent diversity. I will be teaching a unit on Cinderella as we explore Fairy Tales and map skills. While doing that I will teach them about 7 different countries. What a fun way to travel the world! Teaching older grades? Current Events or literature for the classroom is such an awesome way to fuel your students.

Now, I am not saying that you shouldn't teach Black History or any other cultural month. I am just encouraging you to integrate it more into your everyday curriculum.

Check out below for an easy and fun Ruby Bridges activity I will be using. No, I did not get to teach about her in February. BUT I will. Because Ruby is so inspirational and motivating.

Another great resource for older grades is Teaching Tolerance. This website is specifically designed to help your teach acceptance and respect in your classroom. Follow them on Facebook for daily tidbits. Even better - order their free film kits. 

I LOVE these! Plus, they are free! They are helping teachers teach their students as best we can. Each film kit contains a DVD for your students to view (Grade 6+), as well as a CD with PDFs for you, the teacher! They give it right to you!

I hope that you find these ideas useful for implementing in your classroom! Now, go teach your kiddos as best as you can!! #yourock

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