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Teachers have the opportunity to be leaders in the classroom and school environment. 

But what does it mean to be a leader that is conscious, heart-centered, and aware of their students’ diverse needs? 

We live in a multicultural world and the classroom reflects this reality. Students come from various cultural backgrounds, and learning how to implement culturally responsive teaching is very important. 

Black History Month is now upon us, and so this is not only an opportunity to create lessons around Black history but to infuse it into the curriculum year-round. 

As a teacher, one of your roles is to set your students up for long-term success. 

In order to do so, it is highly recommended to educate the students to be culturally conscious of the world around them. 

Students should graduate understanding the many different perspectives, stories, and histories that are integral to the world around them. 

And so, let’s start with Black History. It is American history and the accomplishments, experiences, and perspectives of Black people can be shared through many insightful ways in the classroom. 

Learn how to be a better teacher in 2023 with the following five considerations in mind: 

  1. The value of self reflection 
  2. Become culturally aware and responsive 
  3. Create interactive lessons and learning opportunities 
  4. Support students with learning differences
  5. Build confidence and empower students 

  1. Value the power of self-reflection 

    Self-reflection is a powerful tool to master and make use of on a daily basis.

    It allows for self-improvement through critical thinking. You will begin to make observations of what went well, what didn’t, what your existing biases are, and simply enter a deeper level of introspection overall. 

    Putting self-awareness and consciousness into practice will also allow you to think more deeply about your student’s own wellbeing and receptivity to the curriculum. 

    And so, your self-reflectiveness will come across when presenting lessons for Black History Month. 

    Make sure that you don’t brush off the countless Black leaders that have made a profound impact on history. 

    And that means taking a more holistic, decolonized approach, and sharing the ways in which English, mathematics, science, social studies, and countless other subjects have been shaped and created by Black visionaries. 

    Create open spaces for critical thinking and reflection from the student’s perspectives, as well.

    It’s okay to recognize and take responsibility when one has made a mistake because that’s where we learn and grow. 

    Openness and a continuous desire to learn are beneficial skills to create a more well-rounded classroom experience. 

  2. Create an environment that is conducive and accessible to all of the students by becoming culturally aware and responsive

    Becoming a culturally responsive teacher will create a learning environment that is conducive and accessible to all of the students. 

    It’s in your hands to determine how you can meet the diverse needs of your multicultural classroom and kids, and while that will allow for a certain level of creativity, it’s also important to expand one’s own cultural knowledge. 

    To do so you can:
    Get to know your students better.
    Ensure your class is a judgment-free zone.
    Adapt and be flexible with your teaching styles.
    Teach for every culture by incorporating a diverse classroom curriculum. 

    It’s up to you to be proactive in these situations. Welcome discussions in the classroom, and make sure to steer it towards learning, not criticism. 

    What do your students want to learn about? 

    When it comes to Black History Month, be mindful of where the focus is. 

    If you merely speak to the slavery, segregation, and oppression during Black History Month, this will create a skewed view of Blackness and perpetuate ideas of Black people’s inferiority. 

    Do not create limited teaching windows and learning opportunities in your class. 

    In fact, Teach Away offers a culturally responsive teaching course to help you plan and create content that reflects the different cultures of your students. 

  3. Create interactive lessons and learning opportunities 

    In order to better connect with your students, consider creating lessons and learning opportunities that are highly interactive. 

    An interactive setting will allow the students to play an integral role in the learning experience, as well as increase their attention span and overall participation.

    If you want to open up the communication channels between students in class, this is one way to do so. 

    Black History Month is a great time to make the online or in-person classroom more immersive. 

    Make note of the technology that you can use to create videos, audio, or even image slide shows.

  4. Support students with learning differences

    As you enter a classroom, it’s important to be mindful of the fact that different students will have different learning styles. 

    A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, which means that this is an opportunity to really engage and get to know your students. 

    Check-in with them to find out how they enjoy learning and what you can do to support that unique style.  

    For instance, if you are incorporating a lot of videos and visuals, is there closed captioning included for those that need it? 

    Another consideration is to mix digital lessons with physical activities, even if everything is done virtually. How can you incorporate elements of art/drawing in the lesson plans, or what can you do to get students engaged through some movement? 

    Creating lesson plans with accessibility in mind will ensure a greater impact on everyone in the class. 

  5. Build confidence and empower students

    As a teacher, you have the power and ability to truly empower your students. 

    How do you speak to everyone? Do you offer words of encouragement? Do you inspire critical thinking and understanding? You could even consider mixing historical context and lessons as they apply to the real world.

    The idea is, you are motivating and encouraging a whole range of students to cultivate their own sense of curiosity and creativity in the world. 

    And it all starts with how you show up in the classroom. 

    Be sure to praise the progress that everyone makes, but never compare students. 

    Everyone has their own unique way of being and understanding. Taking the time to get to know the kids in your class is beneficial for everyone. 

Embracing the best version of an educator in yourself 

Teaching can be an incredibly rewarding career path given the importance of education.

The understanding of the world around us all stems from our own sense of education and knowledge. 

As a teacher, you have the opportunity to guide your students into higher states of wisdom based on the lesson plans that you are creating.

Of course, in doing so, you also have the responsibility of creating a learning environment that is open, culturally responsive and aware, conscious, and integrated with the larger multicultural world. 

Black History Month is a time to emphasize, celebrate and share stories of  Black people. Going beyond the month of February, this is a time to examine how lesson plans are shared within the classroom. 

Are you illuminating the liberation, creativity, and civic engagement of Black History? A diverse and conscious classroom goes far beyond stories of trauma and struggle. 

With any profession, there will be a learning curve for what works best, but as a teacher, we recommend embracing the part of you that is a lifelong learner. 

You can learn more about the culturally diverse teaching course, offered by Teach Away, by clicking here

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