Celebrating Women’s History Month: A Teaching Workshop

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Celebrating Women's History Month in the Middle and High School Classroom

As the zoom room began to fill, Jill Clingan wished participants a Happy Women’s History Month! A few people danced and sent celebratory emojis. 

Later, Kathryn Fishman-Weaver challenged the group to audit their lessons for that kind of joy. “In our work to affirm young people and teach more complete stories, we want to offer stories of joy and celebration.” 

The twenty or so participants attending this workshop hoped to learn more about teaching Women’s History Month in the middle and high school classroom. They also brought ideas, resources, and invaluable perspectives to share. 

Most of the educators in attendance teach in the Mizzou Academy partner classrooms in Brazil. Several educators from Colégio Magno shared about a schoolwide art/educational installation to teach students about influential women in history. Robert Garner, assistant coordinator at Colégio Dante shared that they were intentionally adding articles and resources about Women’s History Month to their weekly newsletters. Both of these schools are located in São Paulo, SP.

During the workshop, participants offered classroom activities and strategies from their communities, evaluated the United Nations SDG 5, and then tested out classroom activities on representation, inclusion, and radical hope. Even over zoom, engagement was high. 

In one activity, participants worked together on a collaborative Google doc to generate a list teaching concepts related to affirming humanity, reducing oppression, and expanding rights and opportunities. One educator shared that she wanted her curriculum to  “fight racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and other ‘isms.’”  Another said that he wanted to make sure his students “felt safe in spaces such as schools, jobs, and other communities.”

While the two facilitators posed questions and led participants in activities, they also assured the group that they didn’t have all the answers. “We’re not holding an answer key to these big questions,” joked Clingan.

“This is noble, important work,” said Fishman-Weaver, “and it is happening within the context of an already heart-heavy career. Therefore, as we engage in this journey, Jill and I also want to think through what care means for you as a teacher. As a global learning community how can we make sure that we are for each other?” 

This session built on several years of resources Jill Clingan and Kathryn Fishman-Weaver have written on advancing inclusion and representation in the classroom. Over the past year, they have further developed this work into a manuscript, which will be published by Routledge Press in the fall of 2022.

As part of our strategic planning process, the Mizzou Academy team has engaged in intentional work around articulating our core values. These values are partnership, innovation, access, and inclusion. Over the next year, we will be sharing stories that highlight these values. This series aligns with our value of inclusion.
BeliefDiversity, inclusion, equity, and representation are vital to effective school communities.
Guiding QuestionHow can we cultivate a safe space and center a multiplicity of perspectives?
Source: Mizzou Academy Core Values Document