Educators around the world will have access to free, high-quality professional development about teaching the twin legacies of slavery and settler colonialism in the United States and North America starting Sept. 22.
This yearlong program is made possible through a unique collaboration between the Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies at the University of New Orleans and the Hard History Project.
“We know that educators want to do a better job of teaching about slavery and the theft of Indigenous lands,” Hard History Project director Kate Shuster said. “But older models of professional development for teachers were expensive. This collaboration marks a new way of doing things—a virtual professional learning community, or VPLC, which any teacher can join on their own time for collaboration.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to work with Midlo to make these online learning experiences available for all educators.”
The partnership is the latest effort in Midlo’s long-standing commitment to history educators.
“This is our second time partnering with the Hard History Project on teacher webinars and we could not be more excited about this initiative,” said Mary Niall Mitchell, the Midlo Endowed Chair and UNO history professor. “The Midlo Center has supported New Orleans educators with public programming for many years. With Hard History’s innovative approach, now we can support educators nationally and globally as well.
“Teachers are the most essential public historians we have. Especially now, they need the collaborative space and resources to teach children about the history and legacies of slavery and colonialism.”
The Hard History Project works to increase implementation and adoption of the Teaching Hard History instructional frameworks, published by Teaching Tolerance. Shuster was the lead author on those frameworks, which offer comprehensive guidance on teaching about slavery for students in grades K-12. She continues to manage the Teaching Hard History Initiative for Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“The frameworks are online, and they’re beautiful,” Hard History Project program manager Jarah Botello said. “But teachers tell us that they want more—more guidance, more collaboration, more professional development to actually bring these best practices into their classrooms. That’s why we’re so happy to partner with the Midlo Center to make this year-long learning community a reality.”
The virtual professional learning community kicks off Sept. 22 with a Zoom webinar at 6 p.m. CST. The 90-minute session will begin with the foundations of teaching about the enslavement of Africans and African Americans and discuss teaching about the enslavement of Indigenous people.
Teachers are encouraged to bring lessons that need help or questions about the subject matter. In subsequent months, the recurring webinar series will tackle additional parts of the Hard History framework.
“We’re so excited about this,” Shuster said. “Participating teachers are going to get access to online spaces where they can share and comment on relevant lessons. And we’ll be bringing in experts in the field all year to talk about different parts of the framework.
“Without Midlo’s help, we’d never be able to build this kind of shared online community to teach such an essential part of this nation’s history.”
To register for the virtual professional learning community, teachers can visit this form.