By Andrew Pillow
March is Women’s History Month. Half of the month has already gone by. Have you taught any women’s history? Have you been celebrating the accomplishments of women? If not, don’t panic. You have come to the right place. Here are some tips to ensure you give your students the Women’s History Month they deserve:
1. Incorporate women’s history into the subject matter you already teach.
Just like Black History Month, teaching women’s history doesn’t require a teacher to completely abandon their standards and long-term plan. Best practice is to incorporate women’s history into the content you already teach. Women have made enough contributions to society that you can organically include them in pretty much every subject.
- Teaching the Civil War? Talk about the contributions Clara Barton or Susie King Taylor made to medicine.
- Teaching chemistry? Incorporate Marie Curie into the conversation.
- Teaching literacy? Be sure to have your students read the work of female authors.
2. Allow student interests to direct your teaching.
Often times, teachers feel the need to teach against their students’ interests when in fact they should be incorporating them into their lessons. For example, many of my students are into watching and creating makeup/hairdressing tutorials. Why not use that opportunity to introduce them to Madam C.J. Walker?
As previously mentioned, you don’t need to abandon your standards, but for the most part, it is much easier to use your students’ interests as a conduit to teach them the content they actually need to know.
3. Don’t neglect the present.
Remember, you aren’t just teaching history; you are living history too. There are plenty of contemporary women and women’s issues that are relevant and worthy of discussion in class. Talking about Malala’s crusade for women’s education in the middle east may not qualify as “history,” but it will definitely be considered history one day. Why have your students wait years from now to learn about it?
Current events are just as if not more important than history. The month is called “Women’s History Month” but if you are truly following the spirit of the month then you will discuss current events and accomplishments along with those of the past.
4. Don’t forget women of color.
We often talk about schools neglecting the accomplishments and contributions of minorities in history. Women’s History Month is no different. Make sure your class is shown a wide variety of women from various backgrounds in your discussions. Women are not a monolith and there is no “single story” for women so make sure you use many types of experiences. The best way to do this is to incorporate women of color into your content for Women’s History Month.
It’s not too late to educate your students about the accomplishments and contributions of women. The first step is to try. Hopefully, these tips will help you do that.