Good day Missouri Social Studies educators,
Like so many other previously seemingly routine tasks, even drafting a back-to school message is proving a bit more complex this August. It is not a typical year and these are not typical times for schools and school communities, so the usual adages about journeys, adventures and paths seem painfully inadequate.
For many of us, it is difficult to know just when and where to begin thinking about schools and/or school buildings re-opening, plus how to plan for teaching and learning as the uncertainties of resources, time and, sadly, even life, seem to change daily.
And yet, as social studies educators, we know people have faced greater challenges throughout history. And, they did it with little scientific understanding, meager resources, a dearth of accurate information and absent timely communication.
Comparatively, we have vast assets of knowledge, experience and human capital to use as we re-open our schools, restructure our institutions and rebuild our communities. Here at DESE, it is our responsibility to support you as you work with Missouri students and their families. We have been focused over the past months on providing useful, accurate and reliable information as you seek to make informed decisions regarding teaching and learning in our Missouri schools.
I want to call your attention to two sets of rich resources that can provide guidance for the many important decisions you will make in the coming days.
- In June, 100+ Missouri educators, including three representatives from the Missouri Council for the Social Studies, worked to craft recommendations pertinent to school re-opening. You can access those recommendations as well as a wealth of relevant resources for teaching and learning at: https://dese.mo.gov/college-career-readiness/curriculum/task-force-learning-acceleration
- In July, DESE sponsored a week of virtual Professional Learning, including three days focused on returning-to-learn ideals for social studies, science, ELA and ELD. Recordings and materials from those sessions can be found though the hub at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mONPqxtKjFR4CO9BteB6ggGciPwzVCQHOwA2m7Tkn10/edit
Use your specific educator lens-- teacher, curriculum specialist, instructional coach, administrator or social studies friend—to explore these multi-leveled assets. They contain a wealth of ideas generated by educators across our state and nation. I am confident you will find some tools and strategies to address the many challenges posed by your current circumstance.
As we work through this time together, the mindset of ‘challenge as opportunity’ remains paramount in our work and in our lives. Please feel free to reach out with thoughts, questions or ideas in the coming days. I want to support you and your mission.
Dixie Johnson Grupe
Director, Social Studies
Office of College and Career Readiness
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education