What does Facing History look like in action? Look into Calee Prindle’s classroom and you’ll see it come to life. Calee is an English Language Arts teacher and an advisor at the Facing History School (FHS) in New York City. FHS is a founding member of The Facing History Innovative Schools Network – a connected group of more than 80 schools that embrace Facing History's core themes as essential to their mission.
As a Program Associate for Facing History, I work directly with teachers like Calee. Our team helps develop the kinds of lessons that can create reflective classrooms that are safe for discussion, student questions, and differing opinions so all student voices are heard. And, we help choose content that can make classrooms places where students connect to, and wrestle with, what they are seeing in the world.
These were the kind of discussions I had with Calee as news of the refugee crises continued to unfold and in the aftermath of the ISIS attacks in Paris. Her students, aware of current events through the news and social media, were already discussing the attacks - and their questions and comments reflected the range of rhetoric we hear in the press: should all of Islam be suspect because of the ISIS terrorist attacks? How can we balance American freedoms and provide security?
Calee was clear that her students needed a safe place to discuss their thoughts but she needed to prepare herself first. Together, we identified teaching strategies that would generate thoughtful and reflective discussions. And we carefully selected key resources that would speak to student concerns, enabling students to share their thinking, consider their classmates’ ideas, and generate questions for future research and conversations.
Education Week visited Calee’s classroom and produced this video that shows how she skillfully led a relevant, consequential, and student-centered conversation about a particularly difficult topic.
This is important work. It’s also hard work. That’s why Facing History partners closely with educators like Calee. Together we can bring these kinds of conversations to students as they continue to explore what it means to be members of this global society.
What Facing History strategies have you used to help students wrestle with current events?
See how Facing History can make a difference for you and your classroom. Sign up for Facing History’s Professional Development today! After participating, you’ll be paired with a program associate who can help you maximize your impact even more by connecting you with our materials and methods and help you bring them to life in the classroom.