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.

Educating Yourself

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:

Resources for Learning About Black Lives Matter:

Classroom Activities

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.

Resource Compilations

Circle-Scripts Designed for the Day

  • Sharing our experiences of race - Circles 1-3
  • Learn about Black Lives Matter Movement and why All Lives Matter isn’t the best response: Circle 4
  • Respond to Jesse Williams’s BET speech: Circle 5

Circle-Scripts on Related Topics

  • Circle Forward book provides circles on identify, privilege and oppression.
  • Circle Guidelines
  • Run a circle where you read the District’s letter to staff/families about the day, and ask students how they’d like to mark it.

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

Articles & Websites


Video & Film