Editors Note: This post was originally published on Catherine’s blog on Medium.
DO NOW: What is Whiteness?
After taking out their supplies and getting ready to engage, my students reacted to the question I’d written on the board as their “DO NOW.”
Some students giggled. Others made faces – perplexed, overwhelmed, entertained. A few began to chat with classmates. Some looked at me hoping for guidance. My co-teacher, having just entered the room, said, “That’s a great question!”
After giving my students time to react, I told them I knew it was a difficult question, but I wanted them to think about it. I told them there were no right answers, but they should draw upon their lived and learned experiences — and that I expected them to try to respond.
As many of you know, February is Black History Month in the United States, which can be a time to celebrate, reflect on, and recognize the contributions of the black community.
That’s not to say that learning related to our black community is something that should be isolated to one month a year, but this month designates a time to look back, examine the current moment, and think ahead.
It’s been my experience that this month can serve as a time to pause and reflect on our history and our curriculum — particularly English Language Arts — and dedicate more time to ensuring our teaching is culturally inclusive and provides students with diverse historical accounts. It may also be a time to look at current events and learn about black leaders who are helping to direct our society toward change, such as DeRay Mckesson and Ta-Nehisi Coates.