As mentioned in my previous post, doing professional development with Facing History has been a very transformative experience for me as an educator. Many teachers attend PDs, seminars and workshops, and quite often, there is not much follow-up afterward, but with Facing History, the staff ensures that they provide resources and follow-up with teachers attending their seminars.
Not only do they have a helpful website with many online resources, and a library with class sets of novels; but they have knowledgeable staff who will meet with teachers who can direct you to the resources one needs. For me, the personal connection with the staff is one of their best aspects of Facing History and Ourselves.
What does collaboration look like with Facing History And Ourselves? Staff will meet with teachers to co-plan lessons and units, share resources, and even facilitate lessons. In my experiences, when stuck on how to move forward with an idea, Facing History staff has been essential in connecting me with resources that I may not have been previously aware of. After doing the Facing History seminar in
August 2011, I have had the privilege of collaborating with Toronto staff members, particularly with program associate, Jasmine Wong. We have collaborated in planning lessons and even co-planned a unit based on the novel Red Scarf Girl, which is a novel about a girl’s story growing up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. I was not previously aware of this novel, but it fit perfectly with the theme I was exploring with my Gr. 6 class last year examining Power (Who has it? Who doesn’t? How do people use/abuse it?). I would not have been aware of this novel had it not been for this collaboration with the staff from Facing History.
As teachers, when planning, we often reach for the resources of which we are familiar and comfortable, but collaborating with Facing History will expand your knowledge and resource base. We also often feel like we work in silos, or feel unsupported in the work that we do particularly when the topics relate to Social Justice and Human Rights. That sense of collaboration with Facing History ensures that that does not happen. I often go to many workshops, seminars and other professional development, but the personal touch and collaboration have been important with helping me develop lessons that are thought provoking, creative and highlight history that is often not spoken of in most of our textbooks.