December 14, 2021
The Year in Review with Share My Lesson Staff
I'll let you in on a little secret: I’m a bit of a data nerd. At the end of the year, I get a little giddy running numbers to see what resonated with our Share My Lesson members. Each year tells a unique story about what teachers, support staff, parents and caregivers need to support their students and kids. Our 2021 story is one of social justice, mental health, mindfulness, threats to our democracy, support for our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, anti-racism, remembering lives lost on the 20th anniversary of 9-11, and one of hope with Amanda Gorman's incredible poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
When we rang in the New Year in 2021, I felt a sense of relief and hope after getting through 2020. And then six days later, the insurrection at our Capitol occurred. When the new school year started, it was another moment of excitement and hope (and still is), but we also know the lack of substitutes and bus drivers—combined with the real social, emotional and academic needs of students—has added a huge burden on our profession. It's almost like 2021 said to 2020, “Hold my beer.”
I personally feel like I am crawling to the 2021 finish line, and I am looking forward to some quiet time with my family.
2021 had its challenges, but it also had some real wins. Kids are back in classrooms, and children age 5 and older can now be vaccinated. “Tiger King” came out with a second season (I finally watched the first season this year), and Sex and the City had a reboot.
And Share My Lesson has had some incredible wins. We launched a new website that is more robust and accessible. And our “Top Resources of 2021” highlights incredible authors and content from partners and Share My Lesson members who make our community who we are today.
The Share My Lesson team loves seeing our community thrive and grow, and we get excited when we discover a great lesson, blog or webinar. With that, I'll end with sharing our Share My Lesson 2021 Staff Favorites. It is a list filled with hope, innovation and understanding, which is our wish for you in 2022.
Kelly Booz's Picks
I have two favorites. It was an honor to moderate our keynote with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and AFT President Randi Weingarten. Cardona has been a Share My Lesson contributor since the very beginning, helping to get this site off the ground in its early days. His conversation with Weingarten was one of hope for our profession.
And my favorite lesson was on Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb,” from President Biden’s Inauguration. I reread it recently, and I encourage you to do the same. It's a great way to bookend 2021. She brings us such hope, and she challenges us to be better.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it.
If only we're brave enough to be it.
Laura Brown's Picks
My favorite webinar was from Share My Lesson’s 2021 Virtual Conference! With Shakespeare to Malcolm X: Helping ALL Students Grapple with Race and Complex Texts, I enjoyed learning about the Folger Shakespeare Library’s strategies for using original texts and vocal activities to teach about the bard, race, and complex texts in a fun and innovative way.
Natalie Dean's Picks
I’ve celebrated Juneteenth for many years with my family, and I was pleased it became a national holiday this past summer. I love the resources shared on Juneteenth by ADL because there’s something for everyone—whether you’re just learning about the event, finding ways to teach it to others, or looking for more ways to support the Black community!
Ami Turner DelAguila's Picks
As an English teacher, I know how important it is to introduce modern examples into the teaching of Shakespeare. This lesson from the Folger Shakespeare Library shows the importance and power of language, which is more important now than ever.
We have all heard how important pronouns are, but many people do not understand the variations between gender and identity pronouns. This blog by I-ACT helps educators learn about different gender pronouns and why it is so important to understanding their students’ identities.
Andy Kratochvil's Picks
In a year where the limits of our democracy have been stretched to the maximum, this resource from Global Oneness Project highlights the universal values that help students understand what makes a healthy democracy function.
I'm also proud of a piece I wrote this fall on the importance of LGBTQ history and why it's important to celebrate. Use this blog full of free resources to teach students and communities about the contributions of the queer community and that the struggle for equity and justice doesn’t end with the pounding of a gavel.
Megan Ortmeyer's Picks
I love Amber Chandler’s blog Relatable: Using Biography to Build Community because it is focused on connecting and relating with one another, which is so important to our social and emotional well-being. Chandler describes how she has students choose a biography and give a presentation on how they relate to the person they read about, which simultaneously allows the rest of the class to see how they may also relate to what their peers are sharing.
I also love the resources on how Salina Elementary created a school garden to serve as a hands-on learning experience to support English language learners. Through this project-based learning experience, students improved their math, science and literacy skills all while having fun. Learn more about how your school could have a fun and enriching learning experience by creating a school garden: Check out this blog along with additional resources here.
Teresa Valcarce's Picks
I liked this blog and recommend it because it is focused on women. I’ve always seen articles and blogs that spotlight men who are labor leaders. Sometimes these have included women, but they are not exclusively about women. Many women leaders in the labor movement have also changed history, and it is nice to recognize them.
I like this blog because it focuses on teachers’ social emotional learning and mental health. The pandemic has been very hard on our educators, and it is important to understand that we need to care for the teachers to guarantee that our children will get the very best from them.
I like this blog because it helps students who are not immigrants to learn about this issue; and Dreamers and immigrant students will feel appreciated by having their cultures acknowledged.
Susan Ward's Picks
During the COVID-19 pandemic, so many of us were “injured” in so many ways. This resource from one of my favorite partners, Noggin, is one of my faves when dealing with children and educating them on race and social justice. These issues are so complicated, but it’s very important to teach about them while children are young. This resource includes information in the form of songs and videos. What better way to get students involved and to help the teacher or parent find a more comfortable way to broach this topic with their young children.
My favorite blog by Dr. Lisa Thomas’ offers a solid step-by-step approach to helping our students work their way through the historical insanity that happened on Jan. 6, 2021.
Susan Youssofi's Picks
As the “marketing person” for Share My Lesson, I have too many favorite resources to choose from the many new ones that have been uploaded this year. Our valued members and trusted partners provide us with so much amazing content. Plus, we build new curated content collections regularly when we hear a need coming from teachers, school staff, parents and caregivers. On a personal level, I learned so much this year on anti-racism and anti-bias practices, including many of the concepts covered in a new 2021 collection, Anti-Racism Resources for Racial Literacy—and I look forward to continuing my own learning in the new year.
I also think the emotional impact of the pandemic will be felt for a long time to come. And like my colleague Megan, I want to highlight Amber Chandler’s newest blogs and lessons on Share My Lesson, particularly Relatable: Using Biography to Build Community. She lives and breathes social emotional learning in her classroom and shares the types of best practices that meet students where they are, helping them feel comfortable in knowing that her classroom is a safe space where they can begin again to build their SEL muscles and truly connect with one another in person. I hope you’ll find her resources as inspirational as they are helpful.
What are your favorite resources? Share in the comments below.
Kelly Carmichael Booz oversees the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) PreK-12 online resources serving 1.9 million educators on the AFT's ShareMyLesson.com, the AFT's E-Learning professional development platform, and the production and dissemination of PreK-12 publication for the AFT's 1.7 millio