By Rachel Collishaw

My word for 2020 so far is collaboration. It looks like it’s going to figure big in OHASSTA this year as we work together within our association, with other subject associations and with the larger history and social science networks of teachers and professionals across the country.

While the labour situation in Ontario looks anything but collaborative, we are going to continue to work together to support our students and each other as we stand together for public education. As history and social science teachers, I believe we have a special place in tumultuous times as we help our students understand the social forces at work and examine multiple perspectives in our law, civics, politics, economics, history and social science classrooms.

If you were at our fall conference, you’ll know that we are collaborating with Dr. Sandra Lapointe at McMaster University and we are ready to pilot The Collaborativean online platform that will help to connect you with post-secondary experts in social science and the humanities. We are looking for teachers who are interested in participating in the pilot this spring. You can participate in any of the following ways to support the inquiry process in your classroom:

  1. Background – are you looking to consult with a subject expert to find out what’s going on in their field?
  2. Questioning – do you want an expert to give feedback on your students’ subject-specific inquiry questions?
  3. Gathering – do you want an expert to provide insight into student-developed inquiries?
  4. Drafting – do you want an expert to provide feedback to your students on a draft or prototype?
  5. Producing – do you want an expert to judge and provide final feedback on your students’ products?

Contact us to let us know if you are interested.

We are also partnering with The Korean Cultural Centre in Canada to produce new document sets on a variety of historical and cultural topics related to Korea. We are just at the beginning of this process, but we are excited to see where it goes.

As you may remember, OHASSTA is now a member-association of the new Social Studies Educators’ Network of Canada (SSENC). On behalf of SSENC, I will be at a ceremony later this week to launch the 70th anniversary of the Korean War project that will involve close work with Senator Yonah Martin, the American Korean War Legacy Foundation and the Korean War Veterans of Canada Foundation. I’m excited to see where this partnership will take us, and I look forward to sharing more details with you all soon.

Rachel Collishaw (centre) on behalf of SSENC-RESSC signs the Memorandum of Understanding with Dr. Jonwoo Han (right) of the Korean War Legacy Foundation, and The Honourable Jack Murta, (left) Chair of the Korean War Veterans of Canada Foundation. Senate Chamber, February 21, 2020. Photo credit: Jean-François Bertrand
Rachel gives a short speech post-signing about collaboration

We will be opening up some spots for OHASSTA members to attend the Ontario History, Humanities and Social Science Consultants’ Association (OH) annual general meeting in Toronto on April 28th. We are partnering with Facing History and Ourselves and Elections Canada to offer a day of workshops on the theme: Fragile Democracy:

Equipping students and teachers to engage as democratic citizensWe’ll have registration information soon.

The Thinking Historically for Canada’s Future Project is getting ready to launch their cross-Canada History teacher survey. This is a critical piece of the 7-year research project that will help us know what is going on in history classrooms right across the country. Getting the survey to our members is a major part of our commitment as a partners in this project. There is a Twitter account to follow @ThinkHist where you can stay on top of announcements and new research in history education.

We are continuing our partnership with the L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History and we plan to do another summer retreat for teachers again this year. I have also been named an Associate of the Wilson Institute for the next three years, and I look forward to representing OHASSTA and history teachers in that group.

I also got to attend the OTF curriculum forum, where I had great conversations with the other Ontario subject association presidents. The amount of collaboration going on between teachers through our associations is huge! What we do is so important – way beyond the walls of the classroom! Given all of the activity for us in our partnerships with I was particularly interested in finding out what other collaborations with post-secondary educators were happening in other associations and wow! The amount of collaboration going on in this province is fairly astounding. Everyone is doing something to reach across the gap in their subject to support students and teachers.

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