Tag Archives: antiracism

Why All Americans Should Honor Juneteenth

This post is heavily influenced by this excellent book. Everyone should read it!

In June of 1992 I arrived in LA to work with Dr. E.V. Hill at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. It was the summer after my sophomore year of college and only weeks after the Rodney King riots. My daily commute took me through the charred neighborhoods that I had seen on TV. The truth is, I am not sure that I gave much to that community, but I sure learned a ton from them.

My second day in LA was Juneteenth, and the church had a big potluck celebration. I had never heard of it before. I remember pans and pans of fried chicken and the red pop alongside the red velvet cake (which I had also never seen before. I live in the north, people). Since that day almost 30 years ago, I have never celebrated and only occasionally thought about Juneteenth again.

“Juneteenth is for black people, not me.”

Average White American

With the designation of Juneteenth as a national holiday this week, I have been reflecting on how I imagine the average white American reacts. “That’s a nice thing for black people.” Implied in this response is that it is a holiday that has nothing to do with them.

Here’s why that thinking is flawed. Slavery was an evil institution for hundreds of years in our country. It negatively affected all Americans. White enslavers committed criminal acts of cruelty and abuse. White society viewed blacks as inferior and sub-human. Sanctioned enslavement of people of color is our original sin. The abolition of the institution of slavery was a great step forward in our striving to our ideals: a democracy for all people.

Everyone should celebrate the legal end of the evil institution of slavery

My fellow white folx, we don’t need to throw a party today. Instead spend some time reflecting and learning. Here’s a great list of ideas to get you started. Check out the actual history of what happened on June 19, 1865. Read the book at the top of this post or Caste.

Everyone should honor the end of the horrific institution of slavery, which improved this country for all people (although not equally). The federal holiday of Juneteenth does not fix the issues of equity in this country anymore than MLK’s birthday did. But it is a small step to remember a historic positive shift in our country and to dedicate ourselves to continue the work.

Top Ten Posts of 2020

Since I actually stayed true to my commitment to blog weekly this year (I only missed a couple of weeks) I thought that I would share out the most popular posts of the year.

10. The Power of Making Thinking Visible Online

Based off from the popular book, this post includes free templates for face-to-face or virtual use of Visible Thinking Routines.

9. When Teachers Choose to Escalate

Too often we blame kids without reflecting on how our approach to a situation has made it worse. This is especially problematic when we teach children of color without reflecting on our internal biases.

8. How PBL Gets All Kids in the Game

An analogy between different kind of students relationship with sports and their relationship with school. PBL is the “game changer” that invites all kids into meaningful learning.

7. The Power of Class Rituals

This might be my personal favorite as it is all about connecting and building culture in the classroom. How have you developed rituals, especially if you are teaching remote?

6. Using PBL Themes for U.S. History

This one is for the history teachers who want to teach thematically, instead of chronologically. Includes a free download of my projects for the year.

5. Why I’ve Been Afraid to be Antiracist

This was the first of the Anti-racist series in which I share a personal story of getting into “good trouble.” The second half of the post was written by my friend Dara Savage, sharing how she dealt with racism that her daughter experienced at school.

4. 5 Social Distancing Group Work Strategies

This post continues to be popular as teachers struggle with remote learning. It is challenging, but here’s some ways that it can be done.

3. 26 Anti-racist PBL Ideas

This was a collaboration of ideas from many friends at PBLWorks. Check out K-12 anti-racist projects across the content areas.

2. 10 SEL Ideas to Launch the Year

Written back in August with Covid in mind, these are great to introduce in January when school starts back up. It’s a great time to renew norms, build culture with some team builders, and reflect on goals.

1. How to Teach Students to Manage themselves

This post was far and away the most popular of the year. Probably due to two downloads: a Google Sheets student scrum board and Group Contract Scenarios. Check them out if you missed them the first time around, they are still free.

Honorable Mention:

The Marriage of SEL and PBL actually comes from 2019, but it was the second most visited post of the year so check out how SEL seamlessly integrates with PBL.

Questions? Interested in SEL and PBL Consulting?  Connect with me at michaelkaechele.com or @mikekaechele onTwitter.