We know that it's not easy to teach about the Holocaust and genocide. For many the topic is very difficult and many students cannot wrap their heads around the scope and magnitude of how these mass murders could occur, particularly about the idea of how an entire nation could allow horrific events like this to happen. Creating that safe, caring classroom is essential in being able to have these difficult lessons. In a middle school classroom, these are essential conversations, as students at this age care and have a strong sense of fairness and justice.
As the end of each school year draws near, I feel a great deal of frustration. As students are overwhelmed with culminating assignments or the decisions that they made about completing school work for the previous 9 months, the demands on the teacher expand exponentially as well. As I work with the Growing Success system and school programs such as student success and credit rescue, I struggle to ensure that the decisions that I make maintain the integrity of the course, give students the opportunities they deserve or need, and maintain the intent of the ideals of character education. I find this overwhelming.
As you may have read in other blogs, the “Stand Up, Speak Out” event was an incredible evening of sharing and community. For me it served to exemplify, and personify, the Scope and Sequence of Facing History and Ourselves. On that evening, half a dozen of my students took the stage along with students from three other southern Ontario schools to perform their spoken word pieces. The performances were broken down into the five steps of the Facing History Scope and Sequence:
Topics: Choosing to Participate, Facing History Resources, Identity, History, Urban Education, project, We and They, Strategies, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, genocide, legacy, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, CHG, reflection
As an educator I have found that FHAO’s greatest resources are their human resources. Over the past few years I have been very fortunate to get to know each of the members of the Toronto Office, and as such have found a wealth of knowledge and support through them that I have been able to bring into my classroom. The Toronto Office runs a variety of workshops (such as the Bully Film Workshop, Literature Workshop, and the Facing History Urban Education Workshop, to name a few) that I have found invaluable in my personal and professional development. They run workshops that are immediately relevant to both our curriculum and our students. They deliver the information in pedagogically relevant ways, modelling wonderful new and creative tools and strategies as they take us through new and interesting (and though sometimes disturbing, frequently uplifting!) content.