HM - May 2019 - Conference Reflection
NCHE Conference 2019 Reflection
NCHE Washington, D.C. Conference Reflection
By Rebecca Gomez
When I discovered that NCHE would be having its conference in Washington, D.C. this year, I was really excited to attend. As the first ever Associate Director of History, Grades 5-8 for Uncommon Schools, a larger CMO in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, I have tried my hardest this year to educate myself on best practices in history education, and I was thrilled to mingle with and learn from colleagues in one of the most fascinating cities in the United States.
My first interaction with the lovely colleagues I would be engaging with for the long weekend was during the Mount Vernon excursion. I was lucky enough to serve as the bus captain for this trip, and I was impressed with the enthusiasm, dedication and content knowledge of everyone on the bus. It was fascinating to play BeWashington! With a few dozen history teachers and then to explore the mansion of our first president. I especially loved the visit to the library, where we observed Washington’s copy of Don Quixote as well as his notes on how much wine he purchased for the estate! How did a president have time for these activities? I walked away with a ton of fresh curriculum ideas as well as a few Christmas ornaments and a stunning Washington jewelry box (I think history teachers especially love museum gift shops!)
Over the course of the next few days, I attended several great sessions, but the ones that most stood out to me were those hosted by or inspired by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s work around Teaching Hard History. I so passionately agree that we need to do better by our students by teaching them the beauty of American history while simultaneously highlighting the bad. In particular, we need to improve how we teach slavery. After hearing Mr. Jeffries speak, I immediately went back to my unit on the Road to Civil War and added in details about the rise of the white supremacy mindset that continues to plague our country today. I’m really excited to help my students see this continuity over time. Despite it being difficult to discuss, it will help them to better understand racial inequality in America today, and as the leader of urban schools largely servicing children of color, I will use this content to help them effect societal change.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to have attended this conference!
Rebecca Gomez was the recipient of a Fritz Fischer scholarship to attend the 2019 NCHE Conference.