Ebony’s journey began as a Facing History and Ourselves teacher, learning to teach in meaningful ways that help students connect history to the moral choices they confront in their own lives. She quickly propelled into her role as a teacher leader, empowered and supported to guide her peers in Facing History practices, while deepening her knowledge as a teacher. The CFTL asked Ebony to talk about her journey to becoming a teacher leader, and here is what she shared.
My confidence has grown both as a teacher leader and as a teacher through my work with Facing History and Ourselves. As a teacher, I am reenergized from participating in Facing History trainings and conferences as I learn Common Core-aligned strategies and a deeper understanding of the history units and resources developed by Facing History and Literacy Design Collaborative. I appreciate that I get to collaborate with other Facing History teachers to share practice and new ideas. All of Facing History’s rich content and pedagogical knowledge that I learn goes straight into my classroom, where I can teach my students powerful literacy strategies for reading complex historical texts. Equally important, I am fostering in my students a way to look at history through a lens of empathy.
Becoming a Facing History teacher leader has been a very exciting part of my professional growth. This fall, I led my social sciences department through a workshop, where I presented on close reading, a strategy I learned this summer at the Facing History Leadership Academy and one that I have been using with my high school students this year. The director of social sciences from Miami-Dade Public School District was in attendance, and afterwards, he invited me to lead similar PD sessions for Miami-Dade district teachers and to give a special training for teachers serving students with the greatest needs. I am fortunate that my district supports my professional growth with opportunities to attend trainings and to provide trainings for others.
At the Facing History Leadership Academy, I learn valuable skills for planning and facilitating professional development beyond my school and district. Recently, I co-facilitated a Facing History and Ourselves 90-minute workshop for 26 teachers, demonstrating how to use a close reading protocol with primary text from the Reconstruction Era and The Fragility of Democracy unit. At the end of the workshop, ninety-six percent of the teachers rated my session as “Excellent,” and 100 percent of the teachers felt prepared to immediately bring the close reading strategy to their own classroom.
A year ago, I would have never imagined I’d be leading professional development for a room full of teachers! I have found that my peers are very interested in what I have to say because I am presenting practical strategies with authentic texts based on what I actually use in my own classroom. Everything I model is aligned to the Common Core, which like myself, I know teachers need. Plus, I can speak to the nuances of a lesson from my experience.
I am grateful for this opportunity to be a teacher leader and to know I am growing professionally as I learn to mentor my colleagues. Forming new relationships with other educators has been rewarding, and seeing that my work is impactful has been professionally invigorating. I am learning how to be a leader, I feel supported in this work, and I know I am making a difference.
“There was clearly a different feeling in the room when she presented,” reported Facing History program director Jeremy Nesoff. “Ebony’s session brought an authenticity and a relevance that I cannot bring after being out of the classroom for 11 years.”
Visit the Teacher Practice Networks at CFTL to learn how Facing History and Ourselves and the TPN are connecting teachers to teachers for professional learning led by teachers to change how teachers teach and how students learn.
Please contact Jeremy Nesoff, Associate Program Director for the Leadership Academy (Jeremy_nesoff@facinghistory.org) for more information about or to connect with Facing History and Ourselves (www.facinghistory.org)