By Rachel Collishaw

Spring has finally sprung in most of the province. As I watch the last chunks of ice melt away, I feel renewed and energized and like I have been hibernating all winter. However, when I think about what we’ve been up to with OHASSTA, incubation seems a more appropriate word. We have been working on quite a few projects since we last saw each other in November, and I’m excited to tell you all about them.

For our fall conference this year, we are going to be at McMaster University in Hamilton on November 1-2. We are excited to share the work that we have been doing with two partnerships out of McMaster – the Wilson Institute for Canadian History and The Collaborative, both of whom aim to connect teachers and academics in meaningful ways. This opportunity moves our main conference day to Saturday, November 2, with a social and bonus event on Friday November 1st. We know that despite what happens with contract talks, supply teacher shortages, or whatever new thing the provincial government throws at us, we will continue to support our students, and seek support from each other. The theme for this year’s conference is Thinking Classrooms: Thinking Citizens, and I am sure that we will have lots to talk about! Watch for workshop submissions coming soon.

With Al Skeoch’s official retirement from OHASSTA last fall, we are now looking for nominations for this award in his name. Alan Skeoch is one of the founders of OHASSTA, and an exemplary and award-winning teacher. He established this award to recognize history and social science teachers who demonstrate sensitivity to students at all levels, originality, innovation, enthusiasm, collegiality, professionalism, experience and reach beyond the classroom into the broader community. Recipients must have a minimum of 10 years teaching experience, much of which must be in Canadian World Studies and/or Social Science and Humanities courses in Grades 7-12, and we do not accept self-nominations. So here is your chance to recognize your amazing colleague! We know you know them! We will be considering applications until June 1st. Nominate your colleague using our new application form and if selected, they will be recognized and honoured at our fall conference.

We are working with The Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster to provide a unique summer learning opportunity July 5-7. For three days, participants will hear from scholars on the latest research in Canadian history and history education, and then work together to develop new learning tools for our classrooms. This will be a very low cost event for teachers and I hope that many of you will be able to join us. For more information go to: Doing History in Precarious Times where updates and registration will be posted as it becomes available. The Wilson Institute will also be involved in our annual fall conference.

OHASSTA has also become a new partner on The Collaborative, a new project directed by Dr. Sandra Lapointe at McMaster University, which aims to bring academic experts into your classroom to support your inquiry processes. It will be a technology platform that has graduate students working as connection brokers to make the collaborations easy and fruitful. We hope to be in the pilot phase by September and we will be looking for teachers interested in collaborating with social scientists of all kinds at all phases of the inquiry cycle. Experts can provide the information for your students, but they could help you out in lots of other ways too. Do you want to find out what questions a sociologist really would ask? Need to brush up on epistemology or South American history yourself? Do you want an authentic audience for student work? These are the kinds of collaborations we are hoping to nurture to strengthen student interest and engagement in the social sciences and humanities from high school to college and university. The Collaborative will be working with us and The Wilson Institute in July and they will also be involved in our fall conference, so stay tuned to find out how you can get involved.

I had the great honour to represent OHASSTA at the final interview stage of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for the Thinking Historically for Canada’s Future grant put together by Carla Peck and Lindsay Gibson at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. After 2 years of the application process, we are hopeful that this research partnership grant will be approved. This will give funding for 7 years to really understand what is going on in History classrooms across Canada. If the funding is approved, we will be asking our members (that’s you!) to participate in a national survey of history teachers. There has been very little research on what makes effective history teaching, and we are hopeful that we get to work with other teachers, researchers, museum educators and Indigenous academics and experts across Canada to find out what effective teaching for history, citizenship and reconciliation looks like.

Rachel Collishaw
President of OHASSTA, currently on secondment to Elections Canada, working on civic education resources and professional learning for teachers.

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