At Facing History, we understand the profound challenges of closing the academic achievement gap, as it persistently shows racial disparities not only in achievement, but also in suspension rates, graduation rates, and college attainment.
We know that many courageous educators and administrators across the country are acknowledging that schools themselves—both the practice of schooling and the outcomes students are achieving—are not always equitable across lines of race and class. To help schools face these challenges, Facing History has designed a professional development model to help educators address these troubling and historically rooted disparities.
Our professional development model takes school leaders and teachers on an inspiring, challenging, empowering, and intellectual journey. The shifts in policies and practices that we encourage ultimately lead to more equitable student interactions and outcomes. Our approach begins with an examination of self, individual bias, and the impact of stereotypes. This type of self-reflection helps us lead educators into an exploration of the historical roots of school inequities.
Next, through interactive and engaging pedagogy, educators examine past decisions concerning who would be educated and for what purpose in the history of American education. They further examine how those decisions have legacies and are tied to current systems of inequity. These systems, when uninterrupted, continue to this day to privilege some students and communities over others. Exploring these historical roots is critical to bringing a shift in mindsets and educator practices today.
Working with Facing History, whole schools (including administrators) engage in a professional learning series called Teaching for Equity and Justice (TEJ), consisting of four modules that can be done over time or in one 8-hour training:
Schools that engage in this training series become intentional about implementing more equitable educational policies throughout the school and more equity-based and culturally mediated practices in the classroom. Educators gain awareness of mindsets they may take for granted as they increase their awareness of the societal barriers their students face. This awareness empowers them to raise their expectations for their students, resist negative stereotypes associated with students’ communities, and place a greater emphasis on improving instruction rather than citing deficiencies in students when they are not learning. Administrators also create systems and structures around scheduling, discipline, student voices, and whole-school events and programs that are more reflective, inclusive, and fair.
The expected outcomes of the Teaching for Equity and Justice series is based on four “pillars” or areas for which we have strong quantitative or qualitative evidence:
After completing the Teaching for Equity and Justice series, educators are better prepared to engage in more student-centered and culturally responsive classrooms across all content areas. School leaders are also more inclined to consider school policy through an equity lens.
However, humanities and ELA educators can have the deepest impact as they move to integrate Facing History’s core curriculum units which explore moments in US and World History where issues of inclusion, freedom, and justice are at the core of the learning. Through these 4- to 6-week units, students develop their voice, discover their agency, and move from being passive consumers of information to becoming actively engaged in their learning and the world around.
This kind of engagement is what moves education that treats students as empty vessels to a transformative model that values what students bring to learning through their lived experience. Research shows that higher levels of student engagement impacts student performance and effectively the achievement gap.
We’re ready to help. Request information about the TEJ series.