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This is one of my favorite times of year.

It’s this time when the voices of my beautiful, brilliant Black people are amplified and celebrated. This, by the way, should really happen year-round. But, every year, like clockwork, teachers across the country are preparing their “February lesson.” Lessons, explaining the contributions of Black men and women in the fields of science, the arts, entertainment, politics, and literature. Many lessons will shine a spotlight on ways African Americans persevered to find success in their various fields.

Note to teachers everywhere… This is an archaic perspective, and I implore you to rethink your plan while you still have time. Allow the spirit and strength that has centered Black experiences since the beginning of time to be the true storytellers. That time...dates to the beginning of man.

Take this explicit opportunity to center your lessons on the joy, happiness, and intersectional accomplishments that support the positive self-image, and the uplifting of voices of yesterday and today. These same voices empower and inspire the very children sitting in your classrooms. Yes, we are thankful for the contributions made by Madam CJ Walker, Barbara Jordan, Charles Drew, and Mary Mcloud Bethune. We thank our heroines and their voices and brilliance will forever deserve our gratitude. That being said, there are scientists, artists, politicians, and activists who have taken the torch and are blazing paths that are creating history as we speak. Use these lessons as an opportunity to spark genius.

Engage your students in ways that help them learn more about themselves, make connections, learn new skills, and experience rigor while being immersed in Black brilliance. Allow your students to learn with an intentional focus on the power of intersectionality, pride, and joy.

Please join me on Thursday, January 28 at 4 pm to discuss what it means and how to Center Black Joy while teaching Black History.

We asked our upcoming Educational Joy Series guest B.M. Hardin to tell us a little more about what motivates her creative projects. This is what she had to say:

"I’ve always possessed the gift of words. I’ve been writing since I was a small child. Continuously winning essay contests and things of that sort. I tried to write my first novel at the early age of 14 but being that I hadn’t experienced much life at that age, I put my incomplete novel on the back burner. Then, in my early twenties, with the encouragement of a host of friends, I sat down to write my first full novel. And I did. Now, I’m over 40 novels in and there’s nothing else I would rather do.
COVID-19 actually gave me more time to write. With everyone home, and little to nothing to do outside of the house, I had a lot more time to focus on writing my next great story. And along with write, during the COVID crisis, another great idea was birthed. I started my brand Color Me Bilingual Language Learning Coloring Books. The brand was inspired by my own son who absolutely loves learning words from different languages, and my want to expose my future children to other languages at an early age. And not just my children, I wanted to created something educational, yet fun and life-changing for little brown children everywhere.
I wanted to represent natural hair and appreciate my culture with the coloring books, and I’ve done just that. My customers absolutely love what I’m doing with my brand and their appreciation and satisfaction pushes me every single day to keep doing something great."

Author B.M. Hardin is a #1 bestseller who brings you mouth-dropping stories full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat! She has written over 30 novels, most of which have been #1 bestsellers on Amazon charts for weeks.

She launched her trending coloring book brand “Color Me Bilingual” in April 2020. Her coloring books feature natural hair, and other cultural familiarities that children of color can identify with, all while teaching them words from different languages. The driving force behind her idea is her desire to bring children of color something both educational and fun! So far, she has released 5 of 12 languages, with 3 new languages coming in Black Friday 2020. 

When the world “shut down,” parents in many homes found themselves with a title for which they were not trained nor prepared to have. HOME SCHOOL EDUCATOR. This was different than helping with homework or an occasional project. What happened in 2020 put parents in the role of pushing their children, now students, to take academic risks and learn new, hard things while managing work and the stress of a global pandemic. More than a few tears and break downs occurred in my home. My boys also shed a few. 😊

We had to find new and creative ways to get our “students” excited to learn and do the work. I have always loved to read, but my three boys have slowly grown to hate/like/love it. It really depends on the day! Here are a few ideas I’ve used over the years to boost reading skills and foster a love for reading, all while spending time with my kids at home.

  1. RECIPES – My youngest has always liked to bake breakfast items with me. He was a very reluctant reader, but he didn’t realize he was reading the entire box with step by step directions every time! Sometimes, we would look up recipes online and read a few before sticking to the box recipe I had on hand. Tricky? I say effective.

  2. DICTATED STORIES – Does your child have a good imagination? Have her dictate stories to you as you write/type them, and then have her read it out loud to you. This a great way to practice reading and the editing process as they hear where changes need to be made when they read aloud. Now they are an author! Give it a title and some artwork, and they’ve written a book. I love to use the free version of to scan and “publish” writings so they will flip pages on the screen like a book. We have also just printed images we found online and glued them to folded pages to make books. I have many of these gems saved for memories in the future.

  3. ART/CRAFT PROJECT - We loved to do art activities when my guys were in elementary. Many of the craft ideas you find online come with DIRECTIONS! Again, they are reading without the pressure of a chapter book. Another idea in this arena is drawing pictures or cartoons and captioning them. Have your child then read the “picture book” aloud to you or a younger sibling. Nothing builds confidence like reading to a younger child. Even my 6th and 7th graders used to beam with self-confidence when reading to our Pre-K students on-site at our middle school.

  4. READ ALOUD – My father read to me and my younger siblings almost every night through middle school. Yes, middle school! We even read the dictionary sometimes. I think I can honestly give him all the credit for my love of reading and writing. Children associate that one on one time with parents with joy and security. If you mix books into that time, it creates positive memories associated with reading. As my boys got older, we took turns reading pages which slowly built their confidence as readers. I miss those days with my 10th grader!

It is hard not to worry about backslide or the regression many of our children might have made with the loss of school and teacher led instruction. Honestly, it was a big stressor for me in the beginning of this pandemic. Now I have changed my focus and have been able to find the silver linings. My boys have gotten used to, and seem to prefer, all of us being together. I have gained many moments with them I wouldn’t have had with the hectic schedule we were running. We have played cards, read books, and written some stories. My 16-year-old son called me yesterday just to ask when I would be home. That was a first. I will take the memories and the closeness we have found the last 6 months over reading scores Every. Single. Time.

Amie Dean has been a classroom teacher, consultant, and behavioral interventionist over the last 26 years. She is mom to three boys who allow her to practice what she preaches daily. Amie is the author of 2 children’s books: Your Happy Heart: How Helping Others Helps You, Too, and There’s No Dream Too Tall.

Learn more about Amie at

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