As the principal of our school, I have to confess to you that we haven't figured it out. We are always changing and adjusting our curriculum, we are always seeking to have our students and their families represented in throughout our content, and we are not satisfied with easy answers.
I will not be satisfied if we celebrated black history like it only belonged in one month or with a few posters or events - I won't be satisfied until black history is incorporated as American history through every class - but, as an article I read today suggests, we are a long way away from that reality.
Today in our professional development we asked - How can we make sure we celebrate black history in our content and throughout the year in thoughtful, authentic, and empowering way in all of our classes?
Our school values inform and direct us to be an adult culture of thinking and humble reflection. We want to make sure we hear and center all voices, especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color voices or BIPOC voices. As a faculty that specifically lacks black representation - we are committed to being learners, to opening conversations, and to listening. Our classrooms must be places where students are asked deep and important questions and where all voices are represented, where all histories are represented - our classrooms must be places of inclusivity, informed by our country's history.
I am reminded again in this year when we see Covid disproportionately impacting black and brown communities, that current events and issues our society face are impacted by the structural racism our county was founded on. This is our reality - our content, and our conversation. This is what I think we know but have to constantly learn and relearn because I do not know, we do not know. Even when we as educators want to open our eyes to know all the ways our culture is white or euro-centric, we cannot see it all.
This is what we do know - Black history is American history and we have to intentionally and constantly incorporate and find authentic ways to celebrate the joys, struggles, and histories of black America throughout the year.
We cannot say that we've figured it out - but we can say we are dedicated to being learners, to humbly reflect how we incorporate black history into curriculum and content, and to learn how to amplify and center voices that have been historically un-amplified and un-centered.
We want to make sure we are creating curriculum that students can see themselves and their families represented in. We want curriculum where students are involved in thoughtful, authentic questions and where they are empowered to be thinkers who can approach their world with curiosity and thoughtfulness so they can learn and live well.
Our school's mission, vision, values, and intellectual virtues guide and direct us to look outside of ourselves and our perspectives. Our teachers love their content - and more than that they love the chance to create opportunities for students to think well with their content. For us, February's Black History Month is one more chance for this opportunity.
Today in my Advisory, a 6th grade students led an exploration on stereotypes. I'm so grateful for this conversation to start my day today so I can think outside of myself and do this alongside my students. I hope that in this month and throughout the year you also get to think outside of yourself, to learn about perspectives not your own, and to constantly desire growth. We are in a good, education-valuing community who cares about ongoing learning and honest reflection.
If you'd like to look at any of the articles from today, there are a few helpful and thoughtful reads you want to check out. Both are from Teaching Tolerance Magazine. One is called Why We Need Black History Month and another called The Do's and Don'ts of Teaching Black History Month.
We are honored to be middle school educators in Long Beach dedicated to ongoing learning and celebrate February's Black History Month. This year, we vow to be present, intellectually humble learners. I know that next year at this time we will know so much more. While I wish I knew that future knowledge today so I could approach my community with greater understanding, I remain humbled, hopeful, and grateful for ongoing growth.
To learn and live well,
Jacquie Bryant, Principal