In late July, Facing History was proud to present Identity, Membership, and Belonging: A Summit on Teaching Immigration. The three-day virtual summit welcomed hundreds of educators from around the United States and featured presentations from historian and #ImmigrationSyllabus creator Dr. Erika Lee as well as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas.
Do you ever wonder how we as a society arrived at this place of profound educational inequity, and what we can do about it as educators?
Facing History’s most recent Teaching for Equity and Justice Summit explored this timely, complex, and longstanding question in a dynamic, three-day virtual summit with over 300 educators in attendance. Together, we tackled some of the most vexing issues facing educators today and explored rich frameworks designed to empower teachers to orient their work toward equity and justice. Here are some of the core themes that we explored together:
Topics: Equity in Education
The bildungsroman or coming-of-age novel is a staple of secondary literature education, and for good reason. Since its emergence in the early 18th century, this literary genre has brought us an array of powerful stories of young people undergoing trials, wrestling with their values, exploring their identities, and transforming themselves and their worlds—and all from their own perspectives.
Back when I had my own classroom, nothing fired me up for the school year more than getting my room ready. I’d spend hours putting up posters, adorning the walls with eye-catching student work from previous school years while leaving space for new student work. I’d create new systems for homework collection and book borrowing, arranging desks to maximize space and de-center myself as the “sage on the stage.” I always strove to create a welcoming, uncluttered space that said, “You are safe here, you are celebrated here, and you will also work hard when you are in this room.”
Laura Tavares, Facing History's Program Director for Organizational Learning and Thought Leadership, recently placed a piece on the School Library Journal website in which she interviews Dr. Kimberly Parker, cofounder of #DisruptTexts. #DisruptTexts is a "crowdsourced, grass roots effort by teachers for teachers to challenge the traditional canon in order to create a more inclusive, representative, and equitable language arts curriculum." In this interview, they discuss the impact of Dr. Parker's early experiences on her educational vision, how educators can expand upon the literary canon when selecting texts, and how educators can help their students see themselves as readers. Below is an excerpt from the piece:
As teachers prepare to head back to school this year, it is valuable to prepare for the level of trauma that individual teachers may be called upon to hold. The Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center indicates that trauma “results from exposure to an incident or series of events that are emotionally disturbing or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being.” From the economic strain and complex traumas induced by the COVID-19 pandemic to those resulting from racist violence, students and teachers are returning to the classroom with a heavy emotional load. With all that educators will be asked help students face, it is a great time to cultivate a strong foundation of social-emotional learning (SEL) and trauma-informed teaching methodology.
On July 18th, 2021, Mandela Day was observed and people across the globe were encouraged to spend 67 minutes donating their time and efforts to benefit others. Lockdown laws in South Africa and elsewhere limited how people could traditionally gather as companies, organizations and communities to contribute their 67 minutes. But, as it turned out, South Africans in parts of the country did spend Sunday, July 18th together doing their bit. Many gathered to continue their efforts to clean up the devastation that remained after a week of looting and violence that had brought KwaZulu-Natal to its knees and threatened to do the same to Gauteng, the economic heartland of the country. Mandela would have been heartbroken by the week that led up to this Mandela Day. But as the week drew to a close and the violence calmed, his heart would have warmed at the sight of the residents of these Provinces coming together to clean up each other’s neighborhoods, streets and cities. The events that preceded Mandela Day were both warnings of the fragility of our democracy and a reminder that it is the people who hold this democracy to count, guard it and clean it up.
Topics: South Africa
During the final week of July, Facing History will host Identity, Membership and Belonging: A Summit on Teaching Immigration featuring historian Dr. Erika Lee and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas. Though registration for the summit is now full, we invite you to join us for two upcoming webinars on July 28th and 29th with Dr. Erika Lee and Jose Antonio Vargas, respectively.
Whether you are able to join us or not, all educators are welcome to take advantage of our growing library of curricular resources that help students understand key historical migrations, the impact of the policies surrounding them, contemporary migration issues shaping our world, and the ways that migration shapes individual and national identity.
For many educators, summer offers a welcome break from the frenetic pace of the school year. But teacher professional development and summer fun aren’t mutually exclusive, and there are ways to squeeze in plenty of both before classes resume. With the rise of digital audiobooks and podcasts, it is easier than ever to build new skills and expose yourself to new ideas surrounding the theory and practice of teaching while, say, taking a leisurely walk on the beach, powering through an epic road trip, or even catching up on self-care at the gym.
Topics: Reading List
With the 24-hour news cycles that exist today, educators are faced with a challenging range of important topics to potentially address in the classroom, but actually teaching current events is easier said than done. From world-changing humanitarian situations to smaller developments unfolding at the level of one’s community, wading into these waters can be complicated, particularly without the support of best practices. How do we cultivate safe and brave spaces for our students and ourselves as we navigate the many issues of the day? And what does it look like to do this skillfully amidst the escalating culture wars that polarize discussion and the challenge of media literacy in a “post-truth” world?
Topics: current events