It’s first thing Monday morning, and one first grader asks, “Mrs. Mulligan, do you know who we are going to meet today?”
When I heard this comment, I knew that Meet Someone New Monday was having an impact. I learned about #MeetSomeoneNewMonday from Melissa Quimby, a 4th-grade teacher in Natick, Massachusetts, and now it is a whole-school initiative at the Hanscom Primary School in Lincoln.
Every Monday, Principal Julie Vincentsen shares (virtually) a few slides highlighting one person’s life and accomplishments. Through these slides, it feels as though this person is in the classroom teaching right alongside me. The students see photographs, listen to interview snippets, watch speeches, and hear stories, all focusing on learning about someone new.
The reactions from kids have been palpable.
On Friday, I overheard a first grader say, “Boys don’t sing.” Then today, who did the kids meet during Meet Someone New Monday? Daveed Diggs!
They watched a quick clip from the Broadway production of Hamilton and danced along to Puppy for Hanukkah. After the music ended, students shared,
“His hair just like mine.”
“He loves dogs, and so do I.”
“I love to sing too.”
On the way to recess, a student stopped me, “Mrs. Mulligan, did you know that Lonnie Johnson is still alive?”
Where did this student learn about Lonnie Johnson – from Meet Someone New Monday, of course. Even though Lonnie Johnson was featured a prior week, this student was still thinking about him.
This collaborative effort has launched many important conversations in the classroom, and as students learn about someone new, they often want to add something to their identity maps.
If you are looking for one small way to bring Rudine Sims Bishop’s research about why ALL students need windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors to life in the classroom, give #MeetSomeoneNewMonday a try. I still have lots to learn about my own biases and anti-racist and equity teaching, and this initiative is inviting me and my students to question, wonder, reconsider, and grow.