For several years, our district has celebrated Black Lives Matter at School: A Day of Understanding & Affirmation in February. The Rochester Board of Education passed a resolution to proclaim the day in 2017. The resolutions stated that schools “should be places for the practice of equity, for the building of understanding, and for the active engagement of all in creating pathways to freedom and justice for all people.” It is our hope that teachers, students and schools will create opportunities to “explore and grapple with the past, present, and future status of Black lives in our society and to affirm that status as equal to, and not secondary to, the lives of others.”
Since our original celebration in the district, there has been a larger movement in the country to celebrate Black Lives Matter at School week - this year from February 3rd through 7th. Visit the official Black Lives Matter at School site for more information about the national movement.
As educators, we need to have courageous, honest dialogues about race, and about what is happening in our society and in our students’ lives. Building strong relationships with students and colleagues is a critical component of our work to know “Every Student By Face and Name. Every School, Every Classroom. To and Through Graduation.” This page is intended to provide you with resources to use in preparing to participate in this day of affirmation if you choose to do so. Thank you for partnering with us in this work to improve the Rochester community.
Before we talk with our students about an issue, it is important that we ourselves feel centered and grounded in the issue and are prepared to facilitate student conversations. You may use the resources below to support yourself in becoming more informed, more comfortable, and more prepared to talk with your students:
Resources for Preparing a Positive Classroom Environment:
- Difficult Conversations - A Self Assessment: a tool to reflect on your own vulnerabilities, strengths, and needs.
- Responding to Strong Emotions: another tool to think about how you can create emotional safety in your classroom.
- Teaching About Controversial of Difficult Issues: guidelines from the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.
- Teaching Young Children about Race: a guide for parents and teachers.
- Begin Within: a guide to help build confidence and prepare for conversations about race and racism.
Resources for Learning About Black Lives Matter:
- Black Lives Matter official website
- How a Hashtag Defined a Movement: video featuring the founders of #BlackLivesMatter
- Black Lives Matter on The New Civil Rights Movement: video brief from AJ+
- Need to Know - Teaching Black Lives Matter in School: WXXI Rochester video piece
- TED - An Interview with the Founders of Black Lives Matter
Educators may choose to take part in this day of understanding and affirmation in many ways. Teachers may design lessons, facilitate conversations, invite local experts or guest speakers, or work in other ways. The following are some activities and ideas that you may use with your students on February 17: Lessons and activities for teachers to adapt and implement in their classrooms.
- Looking at Race and Racial Identity Through Critical Literacy in Children’s Books: lesson to talk about racial identity and the harmful potential of racial stereotypes.
- Different Colors of Beauty: Lessons to help students openly develop and discuss their racial or ethnic identities.
- Understanding Prejudice Through Paper Plate Portraits
- Black Youth Matter coloring pages
- Anti-Racism Activity - The Sneetches
- Talking About Racial Identity with Young Children
- Morningside Center Black Lives Matter Lesson Series:
- Black Lives Matter - From Hashtag to Movement
- Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System:
- Using Editorial Cartoons to Teach Racial Profiling
- What is the School to Prison Pipeline?
- What Happened in Ferguson and Why?
- Black Lives Matter - Continuing the Civil Rights Movement: from the Choices Program
- D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice Black Lives Matter at School Resources for Educators: A large compilation of resources Including posters, as well as elementary and secondary lessons.
- Black Lives Matter Resources from Teacher Action Group - Philadelphia: A compilation of information and classroom activities for all grade levels.
- Black Lives Matter in School Week of Action Starter Kit: From the Black Lives Matter in School national organization.
Continuing the Conversation
The work doesn’t stop here after one day of commemoration; talking about race and equity to promote social justice is something that can happen throughout the school year and be weaved into regular class activities. The following are some resources you can use to continue the conversation beyond our day of affirmation:
Curriculum & Instruction Resources
- Social Justice Standards - The Teaching Tolerance Anti-bias Framework: The Social Justice Standards feature age-appropriate learning outcomes divided into the domains of Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action. These standards can be used to guide curriculum development and make schools more just, equitable, and safe.
- Black Lives Matter - San Francisco Unified School District Teaching Page: a compilation of resources and lessons from San Francisco
Articles & Websites
- Preparing to Discuss MIchael Brown in School: Discussion guide and references created by the Washington DC public Schools
- Let’s Talk: Guide to discussing race published by Teaching Tolerance
- White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women's Studies:
- Don’t Say Nothing: from the Fall 2016 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine
- Teaching and Mentoring for Racial Justice: Resources for talking about race in and around our school communities.
- Unpacking the Knapsack of White Privilege: classic article by Peggy McIntosh
- Black Lives Matter Syllabus
- Oakland Public Library #BlackLivesMatter Resource listings on Institutional Racism, Talking to Kids About Racism and Justice, Protest Traditions, Social Movements, and Community Visions for Racial Justice, and Police Conduct, Race, and the Justice System.
- A System of Racial and Social Control: Frontline interview with Michelle Alexander
- A Talk to Teachers by James Baldwin - 10/16/63
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Christopher Emdin
- Privilege, Power, and Difference by A.G. Johnson
- Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Joy Degruy
- All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Keily
- Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside by Kenneth Braswell
- A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara
- White Rage by Carol Anderson
Video & Film
- 13th: Documentary by Ava DuVernay which explores how the Thirteenth Amendment led to an epidemic of mass incarceration in the United States. (available on Netflix and YouTube)
- The Consciousness Gap in Education: The Equity Imperative: A short TedTalk for educators about why we must see, reflect and talk about race.A great starting point for staff.
- 5 Ways of Understanding Black Lives Matter : Watch NYU Professor Frank Leon Roberts break the BLM Movement down, keeping it real. His talk starts about a minute into the video.