TLC Faculty Teach Teachers to be Brave
Much has been debated about the constant struggle between teachers and legislators over political correctness and curriculum in the classroom: Steer clear of critical race theory. Focus on EQ (emotional quotient) not IQ (intelligence quotient). Can’t say gay and don’t be divisive!
Teachers just want to teach. But with so many land mines to navigate, what’s a teacher to do?
Two professors in the School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies have the answer: Enroll in their upcoming workshop, ‘Become a Brave Teacher,’ a two-day workshop held this summer for middle school and high school teachers that stands at the intersection of the challenges found within both realities.
“We want to position teachers to be brave and to purposely include content, projects, and learning opportunities that honor their students' real worlds,” said Todd Hawley, Ph.D., professor of Social Studies Teacher Education and a co-director of the program. “These are the things students bring with them into schools and then take with them out into the world at the end of the day.”
Made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, Hawley and Wisdom’s training will develop new methods of teaching that supports all students and encourages teachers to look inward and draw on their own personal and professional strengths to teach courageously. The training will take place this summer. Subsequent workshops will commence monthly during this academic school year.
Teaching bravely means developing a comfort level with the often-uncomfortable process of interrogating one’s teaching habits and developing the ability to see that as a positive way to improve as a teacher. Becoming a brave teacher is a journey that teachers do not have to take alone. In fact, Hawley and Wisdom believe that brave teachers should seek out other brave teachers and help each other as part of a collaborative teaching community.
Hawley stresses that brave teaching involves a willingness to take risks, be vulnerable, and give up old ways of thinking and understanding about teaching. Moreover, it means being curious about the world we live in and finding courage from within and from other teachers.
“Brave teachers have always been needed and perhaps now more than ever as teachers face mounting challenges, both societal and educational, without the necessary support and guidance,” said Sonya Wisdom, Ph.D., associate professor of Science Education and co-director of the training program. “At the same time, teachers have access to a multitude of resources designed to support culturally responsive teaching, anti-racist teaching, and social-emotional learning.”
Specifically, the workshop is designed to accomplish the following:
- Prepare participants to navigate the current societal and educational challenges facing teachers.
- · Teach participants why brave teachers are needed and how they can begin the process of teaching bravely within their individual classroom contexts.
- · Provide participants with the knowledge, resources and pedagogical approaches embedded in the notion of brave teaching.
- · Prepare participants to cover issues within their specific content areas, such as race and racism, and matters facing students who identify as part of the LBGTQ+ community.
- · Develop an individual portrait of practice as a brave teacher.
- · Develop brave teaching goals to be enacted during the 2023 - 2024 school year
“Brave teaching is about teaching the truth and allowing the whole truth to guide your teaching,” said Wisdom. “Our vision of brave teaching runs across content areas and connects teaching and learning to a vision of teaching designed to prepare students to engage with and shape their world as engaged, active citizens.”
To support participating teachers after they finish the two-day workshop, Hawley and Wisdom will facilitate a Brave Teaching Cohort (BTC) composed of workshop participants. The BTC experience will consist of monthly meetings (that could be virtual) with participating teachers using an Oral Inquiry Process (OIP), a structured protocol designed to allow individual teachers to reflect on specific aspects of their teaching, receive feedback, and encourage collaboration as teachers begin to become brave in their classrooms. Participants will also continue to expand their portraits of practice and discuss how their goals are aligned with their practice as brave teachers.