This blog post is the first in a multi-part series. Natalie Steele, an educator with Peel District School Board in Ontario, will be sharing additional resources and strategies for your classroom over the next few months on the topics of Black identities, humanizing stories, amplifying missing voices in the curriculum, and correcting the systemic abuses of history in schooling.
When I moved away from being a classroom teacher to the role of Instructional Coach I knew my passion was in equity work. In Peel we have a five year School Success Plan with one branch of focus dedicated to equity and inclusion. Within the equity and inclusion branch of the plan there are four communities identified as a focus for teachers to gain additional knowledge about in order to better teach and support those students to learn and be successful in Peel schools. The four groups are: students who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, First Nation, Metis and Inuit students, black male students, (this year the focus shifted to all black students) and students living in poverty.
Why is studying history relevant?
Canada Day, Independence Day, Bastille Day. Theses are days of celebration. People gather, wave flags, watch fireworks, and enjoy a long weekend in celebration. But what exactly are these days in celebration of? Why do we mark particular days with significance? Are these days equally as important for all people? Why do we honour the people we do? Are these people significant for all groups and generations? Can we change the way we remember individuals or honour new ones in light of new information?
What happens when we support and empower students to bring history and identity into our school community? Meet Nyjah, a Toronto-area student who wanted to see more black history and contributions reflected in her high school, and decided to do something about it. The following interview was contributed by Nyjah about her experiences.