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To Know Me is to Know My History

My classroom is a safe space for students to pretty much talk about anything. Last week as the students walked into the classroom they were talking about what subjects that they liked. I didn’t really pay much attention to the conversation until Julia looked at me and said, “I like Social Studies and I’m really good at it.” I smiled and nodded in agreement.

Shortly after Julia made her statement Oscar says, “Julia is the only one who likes history and anyway history is not important.”  I looked at Oscar and said, “That’s not true. History is not important until you need it. Like right now!”

Oscar sat looking a little confused. At that moment I decided to have a conversation about the United States and immigration. I told the students that this is not the first time that the United States has rounded up Hispanics and deported them. After I said this you could hear a pin drop! I went on to say that I didn’t know this because in high school I didn’t think that learning history was important, and as a result the Trump Administration is forcing me learn history as an adult.

Empowering Your Students

Due to the “browning” of America minorities are now a majority in the nation’s public schools. In less than five years, whites will comprise less than half of the under-30 population. According to the Department of Education’s 2016 report The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce, the elementary and secondary educator workforce is overwhelmingly homogeneous (82 percent white in public schools).

As a consequence of  having a work force of educators that does not represent the children that they teach, many students are subjected to an education that often times does not celebrate them. For example, the only time that most black students have their history celebrated is during Black History month.  This is discussed by Carter G. Woodson in his book  The Mis-Education of the Negro . Woodson said that no effort is made to study blacks is public schools. Although this book was written in 1933, this practice can still be seen today when textbook companies attempt to whitewash  history books and Ben Carson(who is black) refers to slaves as immigrants.

In the words of the famous writer James Baldwin, “You Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” If a teacher does not know his/her students’ or attempts to celebrate their students heritage then how can you truly help them to succeed in life?

Acknowledging and celebrating students’ heritage empowers students because it validates who they are and where they come from. There are 3 ways that I empower my students through validation:

  1. I learn about their families and culture
  2. I accept and respect their culture without judgement
  3. I celebrate them by using culturally responsive teaching strategies

As a black teacher at a predominately Hispanic school it is important for me learn about about my students’ culture and to celebrate and validate them in my lessons.

[Tweet theme=”basic-border”]“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” [/Tweet]

Click here or on the picture to download this free puzzle to use with your students.

Welcome to the 3 E’s Blogging Collaborative. On the last weekend of each month, my fellow educators and I will be telling our classroom stories about our explorations of empathy, empowerment, and equity with our students. It is our mission to explore these topics together, but also to provide FREE ideas and materials for others wishing to do the same. We hope to build a bank of materials and ideas to support these classroom endeavors. We also hope you’ll be stopping by again to engage in the conversation. Check out the other members of the collaborative below to continue this month’s conversation and benefit from even more resource

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