For teachers who don’t hold additional jobs, summer vacation offers an opportunity for a hard reset—a time to recharge from the madness of the academic year and prepare for the rigors of the next one. But it’s hard to find solace in the slowed pace of summer when it’s only a matter of time before we will, again, feel the stressors of the classroom. The chronic stress at the heart of teacher burnout follows us all year long, and the consequences may be more far-reaching than we think. Though declines in teachers’ health and students’ academic performance are among the major consequences of teacher burnout, the emotional intelligence of our students is also at stake.
We know that the first week of the school year is a crucial time for teachers to get to know their students, and to establish welcoming and inclusive classroom communities. To support teachers as they lay the foundation for a reflective and courageous community, we are pleased to launch the “Back-to-School Toolkit: Building a Student-Centered Learning Community for the First Days of School.”
Formed in collaboration with Facing History and Ourselves in 2005, The Facing History School is a public high school deeply informed by Facing History pedagogy within the New York City Public Schools. In a recent interview, I spoke with Yenny Bautista—alumna and Fulbright English Teaching Fellow to Brazil—about how the Facing History experience stirred her call to teach.
Harvey Milk High School was the first high school in the world designed for LGBTQIA+ students when it opened in New York City in 1985. In a recent interview, I spoke with two Harvey Milk staff—clinical social worker Tanya Koifman and social studies teacher Natalie Velazquez—about some of the unique challenges facing LGBTQIA+ students today, the depth of resilience their students exhibit, and strategies educators can use to engage LGBTQIA+ students everywhere.
From left to right: Freeholder Alexander Mirabella, Frank Stebbins, and Dr. Hank Kaplowitz.
In a recent interview, I spoke with acclaimed educator Frank Stebbins about his path to teaching, unique approaches in the classroom, and how Facing History has been instrumental in his development as an educator. Stebbins was recently named the 2019 Frank Kaplowitz Outstanding Human Rights Educator of the Year by the Human Rights Institute at Kean University.
“Daddy - I don’t want to leave Europe, I love this house and I want to stay living here,” my six year old son, David, piped up whilst his Dad was watching the coverage of the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement. We reassured him that leaving the EU didn’t actually mean physically going anywhere. However, had some of my children’s classmates expressed this anxiety, those words would have had a whole different weight to them. Some of their parents, as citizens of other countries within the EU, are struggling with what a ‘no deal’ Brexit would mean for their families.
Part of challenging our students is challenging ourselves as educators. That’s why Facing History is excited to announce the 2017 Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grants. This year, we’re challenging you to think about how you can bring “hard empathy” into the classroom. You could be one of 12 educators to receive $2,500 to bring your project to life.
Educators often talk about “student well-being,” but we rarely define the term. We know we want more for our students than just academic achievement, but most of us struggle to articulate a vision for what that more looks like, and how to work toward it.
So often my best teaching comes when I don’t give any information. A well-crafted question can provide far more information than the best slideshow presentation in the world. This is something that drew me to Facing History and Ourselves one fateful summer three and a half years ago when I went to a Holocaust and Human Behavior seminar. I liked that the session I attended often raised more questions than it answered and challenged me to complicate my thinking. When offered an opportunity to join the Facing History Leadership Academy, a group of educational leaders who have an in-depth understanding of the organization’s teaching framework and resources, I jumped at the chance. I was excited to expand my ability to question.
Tuesday, November 29 is Giving Tuesday. As the holiday season gears up with advertisements for sales and deals on clothes, electronics, and games, Giving Tuesday encourages us to support organizations trying to make a positive difference in the world—like Facing History and Ourselves. Hear from Kim Parker, a Facing History teacher, about why she's giving to the organization that has helped her grow as an educator.