Have you ever finished teaching a unit or a lesson and thought, Well, that was awful?
Yeah, me too.
After having this thought one too many times I knew I needed to figure out why. I realized when I felt this way it was because I wasn't giving my students the full story. I wasn't giving them the full story because the theme or content had to do with what many deem as a controversial topic.
It didn't matter what grade I was teaching. I was filtering my lessons so much that the students were left learning inaccurate information. I was teaching them the "safe" version. I was afraidif I said too much they would ask questions that would open up a dialogue that I was not prepared for - a dialogue that I, the Black teacher, did not want to get into and I, the educator, did not want to get phone calls from parents about.
Don't get me wrong, I prepared for the lesson. I read the books that I was going to introduce to my students beforehand. I planned out the content I was going to teach each day. I prepped the materials and made copies of the necessary worksheets. I scheduled the homework and any culminating projects. I was doing everything to prepare my students for the content, but I wasn't doing anything to prepare MYSELF. You may be thinking, Isn't getting the materials together preparing?
However, I was not prepping my mind. I was not fillingit with the knowledge to accurately teach the material. Reading the books that our students are going to read is necessary, but we must take it a step further and read books that deepen OUR understanding. When I did this I was able to truly think about WHAT I was teaching and WHY I was teaching it.
When I taught 3rd grade, one of the social studies units was Colonial America. There were many things wrong about the content in this unit, and it wasn’t until I read Slavery in Colonial America, 1619-1776 (The African American History Series) by Betty Wood and Strange New Land: Africans in Colonial America by Peter H.Wood that I was doing what I needed to do to prepare. Reading these books prepared me because I was no longer teaching my students the white-washed version of events. My students were only being taught the European perspective, although there were others affected by the events that occurred.
The following year I took it a step further and asked myself, "Am I doing enough?" The answer was no. I still had more reading to do. I needed to understand the perspective of not just African Americans during that time, but also Native Americans to truly teach my students accurate information. So, Wounded Knee by Dee Brown & Audiobook: As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock was added to my personal library.
As educators, we need to teach the truth and sometimes the truth is painful. Sometimes the truth can blow what you once thought out of the water forcing you to unlearn what you have been taught.
So why not teach your students the truth from jump so they are not unlearning what YOU taught them?
Are there any social studies units you would want to prep better for?