Civics Across the Curriculum: Every Teacher is a Civics Teacher

Repost from December 9, 2020

The kick-off to the Civics Across the Curriculum webinar series was held on Thursday, December 3, 2020. This year’s theme builds on the theme from the originally scheduled Democracy Schools Network Spring 2020 convening, “Every Teacher is a Civics Teacher: Best Practices for Civic Learning and Organizational Supports.” View a recording of the session.

This kick-off explored the intersections of civic learning, vision and leadership, and school climate and set the stage for the upcoming sessions in 2021. Panelist Nicole Beechum, Co-Director of the Equitable Learning and Development Group at the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, highlighted recommendations for bridging efforts to promote social and emotional learning and democratic practices in schools. She emphasized that centering identity is essential for understanding the roles of citizens and that it is incumbent for school teams to prioritize this work and understand the fullness of their students’ lives.

Panelist Alejandra Frausto, Project-Based Learning Manager in the Chicago Public Schools Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement, discussed the changes that Chicago Public Schools have made in moving from an hours-based community service requirement to project-based requirements in classes. She shared a powerful example from her science classroom teaching experience where she was able to support her students in addressing a community issue and working towards transformational change.

Lastly, panelist Eileen McMahon, Principal at Maine West High School, discussed the importance of leadership in ensuring the civic mission of school supports students to define and create agency for themselves. The discourse of learning in schools can shift to thinking of how we do school “with” students instead of doing school “to” students, challenging the ideology of power that exists in schools.

Some additional resources were shared in the discussion that underlines some themes that emerged from the session:

This was an incredibly inspiring conversation and emphasized the importance of identity, creating agency, and affirming that all adults can be civics teachers for our students.