students standing below mural of historical Black figuresTeacher candidates in the Windsor Underground Railroad Initiative course viewed murals of Black history during a field trip to the McDougall Street Corridor in downtown Windsor, with a tour led by history student Willow Key.

Workshop to explore teaching Grade 4 to 12 students about local Black community

In a one-hour drop-in event put on by the Windsor Underground Railroad Initiative, a service-learning course in the Bachelor of Education degree program, teacher candidates will share what they have learned with teachers and members of the community. It is free and open to the University community and the public starting at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, on the first floor of the Leonard and Dorothy Neal Education Building.

Teacher candidates will run 10-minute interactive workshop sessions. Visitors can participate in as many sessions as they wish to do so within the hour.

The sessions will introduce visitors to teaching strategies, resources, and conversations about sensitive issues that can be effectively used to teach Grade 4 to 12 students about local Black history, including the Underground Railroad; Black people’s contributions to the arts, sports, and sciences; and contemporary social issues related to Black culture.

Each group of teacher candidates has focused their sessions on a specific age group: Grades 4-6, 7-8, 9-10, or 11-12. A QR code will be available that will offer educators additional pedagogical resources related to the different sessions. These sessions are each uniquely designed, for instance, as interactive learning centres, timelines, or role plays.

“Our local community of Windsor, Essex County, Amherstburg, Chatham, Buxton and surrounding areas have some of Canada’s most significant museums and historical sites connected to Black history and the Underground Railroad,” says Susan M. Holloway, an associate professor in education who conceptualized this service-learning course, which is currently in its second year.

Students in her course have visited the John Freeman Walls Historic Site, Amherstburg Freedom Museum, Buxton Museum, Sandwich First Baptist Church, the Leddy Library archives, and the McDougall Street Corridor, and attended a performance and question-answer discussion with actor and playwright Leslie McCurdy.

“The community partners have been extremely generous in sharing their knowledge as well as their insights, lived experiences, and expertise,” Dr. Holloway says. “The generous financial support of the Office of Vice-President People, Equity, & Inclusion has been tremendously instrumental in facilitating this course through a grant this year, and especially allowing for the opportunities for the teacher candidates to go on these field trips. The Faculty of Education is strongly committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion and has supported and funded the development of this course.”

The course discusses concepts and issues pertinent to education such as strengths-based learning, diaspora, white privilege, being an ally, cultural appropriation, anti-racist strategies, inclusion, the Black Lives Matter movement, and Emancipation Day celebrations. Students have also learned about such theories as Culturally Responsive Teaching, Critical Race Theory, and Critical Literacy.

“These teacher candidates are embarking on their own careers in the school system and can play an important role in shaping curriculum and community partnerships in the years to come and build upon what local school boards are already doing,” Holloway notes. “Please drop in for this interactive workshop. Everyone is welcome!”

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