When our instructional practices are tailored to bridge student cultures, interests and experiences, it results in an increase in student achievement, motivation and engagement. Any educator would agree that building authentic relationships in their classroom is at the forefront of effective teaching. Schools are where our children seek to be dreamers, inquirers and problem solvers before they go on to pursue their passions. Helping our students achieve their dreams begins when they receive the highest quality education possible and feel a sense of true belonging within their classroom.
One way that these practices can be easily integrated into the classroom is within our social studies lessons. However, our current model social studies curriculum does not take advantage of the beautifully rich and diverse history of Ohioans. House Bill 171 proposes to educate students about the experiences, journeys, and contributions of a range of communities that have long called Ohio home. It will follow the existing curriculum review process to create enriching learning experiences for Ohio’s students. Not only will it help cultivate a classroom community for all students – particularly those who come from different backgrounds – it will also equip teachers with guidance to create and facilitate engaging, developmentally appropriate lessons. There are many teachers, like myself, who are currently tailoring their instruction to reflect the backgrounds of their students. This bill would support educators and provide us with materials that are reflective and accurate in representing our multifaceted communities.
The Ohio Council for the Social Studies (OCSS), the state’s leading and premier voice for K-16 history and social studies professionals in Ohio, issued a public statement in support of H.B. 171. This bill is a step forward to building a foundation for sliding glass door experiences for all of Ohio’s multifaceted classrooms.
Our youth is our future and our greatest investment. These young citizens are not merely students, but learners with unique skill sets and strengths that will prepare them to become critical thinkers in our ever-changing world. They represent Ohio – the heart of it all, home to all – and our state’s model social studies curriculum should represent them all.
Sanampreet Gill is a second-generation, Sikh American educator, educational advisory board member and Ohio native.