Notes from the Director

As we started the school year, I noted that we are living in a moment of tremendous and rapid paced change. The first half of the school year has only reinforced these feelings. Not only are these changes happening, but they are and will have tremendous short and long term consequences on each of us as individuals, the physical and emotional lives of our students, and the health of the communities we live and work in.

This moment that we are living in demands that we bring the world into the classroom, both to acknowledge the uncertainty, hurt, and pain as well as to sustain ourselves through joy, laughter, and deep learning. Through meaningful, real world connected, learning opportunities, we hope that you, too, are inviting your students into devising and imaging our future as it could be, making way not only for inquiry but also for creative thinking.

There are a number of contemporary issues and solutions that we might invite into our classroms:

Recently, government scientists released a federally mandated update on the United State and climate change, which speaks to the profound changes that are happening in our environment as the atmosphere warms. In the Bay Area, we felt the real effects of that as we experienced the collateral damage of the Camp Fire via the increased levels of particulate in the air that not only made it difficult to breathe but also revealed that local governments are not prepared to protect our communities’ most vulnerable residents in such circumstances. International migrants, are assembling at the southern border of the United States as they wait to submit their petitions for asylum, and locally, area schools are responding to the academic and transitional needs of newcomer students. In separate incidents, mass shootings took place at a nightclub and a Jewish house of worship. Closer to home, Chinedu Okobi, a man of African descent was killed by county police.

We are also witnessing community members come together to devise new and creative solutions. As the air quality worsened in the Bay Area, local organizations and collectives began distributing masks to the unhoused population, surpassing the support provided by municipal government. The midterm elections revealed record turnout and a number of incredibly close electoral races, revealing that we must now wait until after Election Day before learning final election results.  And, teachers are demanding that they be armed with supplies (not weapons) in order to support the needs of their students.

This fall we have engaged teachers in three community convenings to encourage and sustain a vibrant Bay Area H-SS education community as well as center important conversations. To that end, this winter, we will hold our third community convening, where we will engage in conversation around how we can best incorporate discussions of the historic relationship between humans and the environment into instruction; we will host our second un-conference where we will center (and wrestle with) the questions, topics, and ideas that matter most to you, our community; and we will culminate the year at our sibling site at UCLA, who will host this year’s Teaching History Conference, which will center discussion of culturally relevant pedagogy across the K-16 continuum.

We continue to commit to deep learning, in partnership with you, the community of educators that sustains us. We hope to see you in the coming months.

December 2018