Transcription of the episode “Busting out of the classroom: Connecting local history to everyday life”

Amy H-L: [00:00:15] Hi. I’m Amy Halpern-Laff.

Jon M: [00:00:17] And I’m Jon Moscow. Welcome to Ethical Schools. Our guests today are David Edelman and Raul Baez. David is a social studies teacher and instructional coach at Union Square Academy for Health Sciences in New York City. His website is Raul is a rising senior at Union Square Academy. He Is a pharmacy student and is interested in a career in forensic science. Welcome, David and Raul.

David E: [00:00:42] Thank you for having us, Amy and Jon.

Amy H-L: [00:00:47] David, we like to discuss the ways in which teachers’ “why” shapes their “how.” Why do you teach history?

David E: [00:00:55] So I think it’s really important for students to make connections across all disciplines, but especially history. And I think as the world becomes a more tumultuous place and students are very, very interested in understanding why things happen a certain way, why governments make the decisions that they do, that it’s important to look to the past for answers. And specifically, I think this year in terms of some of the work that I did with my US history students, kids come in very eager to talk about current events, especially issues of social justice and racism, and it’s important to have a context for that and for students to understand the origins of some of the difficulties that we have getting along. And so if you want to, or students motivated to, talk about  Black Lives Matter, the murders of Brianna Taylor and George Floyd, I think as a teacher, when you’re teaching American history, you can’t skip over the roots of racial justice in our past, and you have to start from the beginning. And very often that story is lost.

As a student myself, I loved history. I studied history in college as well. And I feel like I learned very, very little about racial injustice and and slavery. And it wasn’t until I became a teacher-in-training that I got more of an understanding of New York’s role in slavery on both sides, from the abolitionist side and also the side that was economically tied to the  South and the desire to support systemic racism and slavery. So I didn’t want to, as a teacher, continue in the same pathway of ignoring this part of history. And I wanted to ensure that my students had a deep understanding and appreciation of local history and the complexities of history as well.

Jon M: [00:03:34] Why is your website called “cagebustingclassroom”? 

David E: [00:03:37] So, unfortunately I think the reality of schooling today is, for students and teachers alike, schools can often feel like cages. And I think the reason why is there’s a lot of fear in schools. And I’m not talking about fear from the pandemic and students’ physical safety or fear from school shootings, but just general fear that comes from a system of high stakes standardized testing, prescriptive curriculums that don’t give teachers the agency that they need to design purposeful instruction that connects to their students, high stakes punitive evaluations, where teachers are scared to get feedback from their peers and from their school leaders. And schools, in some respects, need a reboot. And there needs to be more joy in general. 

And that makes me think about the evaluations that I give to students at the end of the year. Feedback. And one thing that really stands out to me is when I asked students what resonated with you the most, what was the most purposeful way that we spent time together during our learning? And without a doubt, the thing that all students talk about is the field trips that we go on, which is nice because it takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s something that resonates with me and that’s near and dear to my heart. 

So we go on a whole bunch of field trips. I take kids to criminal court to learn about social justice through the criminal justice system. And to what extent should justice to be left up to a jury. And we go, and we actually sit in trial rooms and analyze the jury and analyze the makeup of the jury. We take kids to City Council, and I had students recently testify before City Council about issues that they’re most passionate about. And we take kids to Wall Street and the Federal Reserve to learn about personal finance and learn about investing. And these are the types of things I think most resonate with my students.

Jon M: [00:06:03] What were some of the issues that students wanted to testify at the City Council about? 

David E: [00:06:10] So I had a student yesterday, actually, Audrey, who was our school salutatorian, that testified remotely online about her thoughts on schools reopening in the context of the research that I was helping her with about New York City’s historical open air schools movement. So in 1917, 1918, in response to the Spanish flu, New York City, they created a whole slew of these open air schools where students would learn outdoors because they thought it was healthier given the pandemic, but also for students that might’ve had pre-existing health conditions. And so she connected this to Brad Landers’ proposal. You know, they have the Open Streets movement, to like close down streets to give people more space to move around outside safely. So there was a proposal to close the streets outside of schools so there could be more outdoor learning that takes place. And so she talked about that and she talked about some of her proposals for how New York City should approach opening schools safely.

Jon M: [00:07:28] Wow. That’s cool. So David, you and your students, including Raul, created a virtual walking tour of slavery in New York City. What was your objective? 

David E: [00:07:40] So my short term objective was just, let’s finish out the year with something engaging that kids are going to do, because remote learning is difficult enough and I wanted to come up with a project that I thought was meaningful that would resonate with students, that would do justice to having students contemplate New York City’s history and also learn about slavery as well. And I can, I can say that if you take a look at the site that we worked together on, there’s a whole spectrum of sites in terms of this screencast that students did. Yeah. Some need some work and some are beautiful pieces of art. But the thing that I’m most proud of is every student created a screencast. Okay. So. When people talk about remote learning and how only 20% of students are logging in and most, most students aren’t doing anything, this was the last activity that we did together as a class and every student contributed. And so that’s something that I’m really proud of. That was my short term.

Raul B: [00:08:43] Yeah. This was one of the more interesting projects we did because with our research, we connect like current, current buildings, not current events, like the current, yeah, the current landscape of New York and we connected it to the past history. Like we connected like Wall Street, people walk by Wall Street every day, like a lot of people, and people would never know that the slave trade slave market was there. So it was interesting knowing like things we see every day, like we would never know that like the past history that occurred in these places. So that’s what made it like really interesting.

David E: [00:09:20] That was our, that was our long term goal. So raise awareness of my students. But it wasn’t just enough to raise awareness of our students. I wanted my students to be able to share this with other people and with the general public. And initially we were going to do that in person. The whole premise of this was we were going to do these walking tours in person, and it only became a virtual exercise given the pandemic. And then ultimately to inspire students to take action in this project and in future projects. But ultimately we want the city to come to terms and acknowledge its past through perhaps permanent memorials in certain of these places. So as people walk by, they could learn about New York City’s history and specifically the role that New York City played in connection to slavery, both on the side of abolition and on the side side of supporting the system of slavery as well. 

Amy H-L: [00:10:20] Raul, would you tell us what steps you and your classmates took to create the tour and why it was meaningful to you?

Raul B: [00:10:27] All right. So first, the first step we took was we picked the sites that we were going to research. Then after we picked the sites that we were going to research, we found information to create, you create a slides first about it. And then after the slides, we created a screencast about the slides and the information on the slides. And what made this so meaningful to me is, like I said before, it was like, this is what is really like one of the most interesting projects we’ve done all year because of how engaged it made us and it was like, it shows us things that we will never pay attention to, things that we never, we never knew, we had never seen before. So that’s what made it so meaningful. 

Amy H-L: [00:11:09] How did going virtual impact your experience, Raul? 

Raul B: [00:11:14] Going virtual for me, it had its pros and cons. Like the pro for me is more focusing, I guess. It’s less distractions. Like what I would do every morning is, I have two little brothers, so we would  all come together in my room and we would all do our homework together. So it was like less distractions and it’s easier to work. But the thing the cons about virtual learning is I feel like in school it was more like visual and more interactive. Like when learning in school, it was more engaging. Like on the smartboard, like when there’s slides and you hear people talking about it, like it’s, it’s easier to learn.

Amy H-L: [00:11:53] And what about this particular project? 

Raul B: [00:11:58] I feel like going virtual for this project, it kept us like more engaged at home.

Amy H-L: [00:12:03] So the tour itself, was it originally intended to be virtual or was it going to be an actual walking tour?

David E: [00:12:12] It was originally intended to be an actual walking tour. So the way that I first I conceived of getting my students involved in this is the fact of when I was a teacher in training at Hofstra University, one of my early experiences was my professor, Dr. Alan Singer, invited me to go and partner with a school whose students were actually involved in this. And so he was working with a teacher at the school who was helping to prep the students on specific sites in New York City. And they led an in-person walking tour. And I was one of the participants. And we’d walk around the city together and we’d come to a site and then a student would hold up a poster that they created that showed pictures and the historical significance of the site. And they would do their presentation right there on the streets of New York.

So what most resonated with me about that was the fact that people were, that were just on their way to work or who were on vacation, visiting New York City, they very often would pause, try to figure out what was going on. Cause this was, it didn’t look like a regular walking tour. It didn’t look like a Big Onion, you know, organized walking tour, and try to figure out what was going on. And in the process of that, they really learned something and it made it real for the kids as well, because they weren’t just speaking to their classmates. They were speaking to anybody, and that’s really purposeful. And so unfortunately, I think that’s the hardest thing for kids to do is to talk to people that they’re unfamiliar with and new faces. And so perhaps in terms of doing this virtually, students felt on we’re making a screencast, it’s more accessible, right. They get multiple takes if they want to like redo it or improve it as opposed to doing it live and in person. So I think ideally, both are great. And we’re hoping to continue and to build off of this both virtually and hopefully when this pandemic is over it, to be able to have students lead in-person walking tours as well.

Jon M: [00:14:21] I have a question actually, for both of you, first Raul. Did this change how you see the city? 

Raul B: [00:14:30] Yeah, it definitely did see how it changed the city. The two sites, the two things that I worked on was the Gideon and the Great Dock and the Wall Street slave market.  And the Gideon and the Great Dock, it was the, on the first ship that ever bought slaves to New York. So what was also interesting about learning about this was like, people wouldn’t know that people would think that there was no slaves in New York. Like you don’t really learn about that. Like about slaves being brought to New York. So knowing like Gideon and the Great Dock and the, the slave trade market, actually a wall that the slaves built and like people, people will never know this. So it actually, it really did change my view on the city because it was things that I never thought happened, like it opened my eyes to the hidden history around the city.

Jon M: [00:15:19] And David, I mean, you’ve been obviously engaged with this, as you were saying, since you saw this tour years ago. But how has working on these tours changed your impression of the city? 

David E: [00:15:33] I say to my students all the time, read the plaque, take a moment, stop, look around you because there’s interesting things to be learned. Everywhere. And I really value that. And I ask my students, what did you learn yesterday after school, right. Cause I want, I like students to be learning as much outside of school as they are inside of school. And I want them to share this learning with others. I want students to go home and discuss what they’re learning with their parents. And perhaps they can learn something new from their parents, perhaps something about local history or their family history that they didn’t know before.

And just going back to virtual learning, I think one of the main positives about virtual learning for me is the fact that I got to be inside of students’ households, like during virtual learning. And like the one-on-one conversations that I had with students where they gave me tours of their home. And they introduced me to their parents. And if I was working with a student one-on-one, it became an opportunity for me not to just engage their son and daughter and learning, but to get their parents involved as well. And so I think very often that’s the hardest thing as a teacher is how do you authentically get parents involved in instruction. But if the instruction is taking place in your house and your parents are in your house, it’s an opportunity for everybody to learn together. And so that’s something that I’m really going to try to build upon this upcoming school year, because we’re, there’s definitely going to be a lot of learning taking place in students’ homes this year and perhaps future years as well. And I want to be able to utilize parents as well and for them to also be benefiting from the learning that we’re doing.

Amy H-L: [00:17:32] Raul, most of the time in school students are primarily learners, but in this project, students are teachers. And David was just saying, you are teaching your parents as well as the purpose of this project is to educate the public. So how does it feel to be a teacher as well as a learner?

Raul B: [00:17:57] To be a teacher? It’s a little bit to learn. First, we had to learn about these projects. In fact, before we created the slide and these podcasts, we had to learn about the project. So like learning about the topic before we have to make these slides and create these parts, the podcast, it makes us feel like we’re like in control, like we’re intentional about learning and where we have the opportunity to teach other people about the hidden history of the city.

Jon M: [00:18:26] How has George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent  Movement for Black Lives affected the meaning or the impact of the project for you and your friends or your family, as much as you can get a sense from people you’re talking to? 

Raul B: [00:18:41] So we have a long history of racism that stems from slavery and George Floyd’s murder has made me more interested in finding out this history of racism and slavery. So the murder of George Floyd made me want to want to learn more and get deeper into the project, into the topics of the project.

Jon M: [00:19:04] And have you seen any impact on conversations with your friends or your family members?

Raul B: [00:19:13] Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of conversation with my mom and family members. Like, my mom, she’s working with her church. Like they have meetings with each other for peaceful protest. Like everybody I speak to, like, they want to change them. They want to bring about change. And me too, like, oh, I would like to have  change and I feel like the only way we could do that is through peaceful protest and things that’s making our voices being heard. And they can help heads turn, making people notice. I feel like that’s the only way that change could be brought about.

Jon M: [00:19:48] Has the project helped at all? I mean, when you’re, when you’ve been talking ,say, with your family about the project, I’m just wondering, cause you know, David was talking about connections between current things in the past and history and science, just sort of interested in the fact that it was a coincidence that you were working on this project about the history of slavery in New York City and then all of a sudden the issue of Black Lives becomes, you know, what they’re saying is the largest protest movement in American history. So I was just wondering about, about whether it made it, whether you found that people were more interested in your project, given what’s going on in the world as a whole.

Raul B: [00:20:26] Yes. I feel like given what’s going on now, it made the topics of the project, like more interesting, because what happened was George Floyd died from racism and where we, where we’re focusing on is slavery. And it’s amazing that no, like slavery has in New York, like all around, like slavery really stems back really far in history like this, this has been going on for a long time. So it makes people more interested to know like the history, like how it started and how it’s still going on now.

David E: [00:21:00] I think another thing it helped students to kind of contextualize and think about is very often, I think, when teachers teach about slavery or racism in general, they, they approach the premise of it from the fact that racism occurs because there’s hate in people’s hearts. And that that’s part of it, but there’s also more complexities to that, you know, that stem more so from power, who has power, and economics very similar, you know, who’s, who’s benefiting from this system. And so I think it’s important for students to think, think about all the root causes that contribute to systems. It’s interesting too, for people to think about, what was New York’s role or who was benefiting most from the North’s or New York’s ties to the South. And so I think that gives students another lens on inequality as well.

Jon M: [00:22:12] That’s really powerful, what you’re saying, because as you were saying it, I was thinking about the fact that I think you’re absolutely right, that a lot of people’s focus is on hate. And your tour was really talking about institutions and talking about profit and talking about, I think one of your sites was that one of the founders of, if I remember correctly, what’s now Chase, made his money as a slave trader.

David E: [00:22:43] Citibank.

Jon M: [00:22:45] Okay. So next year Citibank and Chase will be the same as Citibank. So yeah, I think that’s a really powerful message is that it isn’t just an individual thing, it’s who’s making money off of it. Where does the wealth of the city, the wealth of the country, come from? I mean, we had an episode recently where a person from EdBuild was talking about how because of the history of discrimination in housing, that one of the results is that majority white school districts annually get $27 billion more in funding than school districts that are majority students of color. And that’s a direct result of government policy over the years that people well might not automatically think of when they think about discrimination and racism.

Are there other examples you were talking before about some of the trips that you take, the field trips that you take students on? Are there some other examples that you want to mention of where you’ve connected local history to current events?

David E: [00:23:59] Well, I think I already spoke to this as well, but I think, so I don’t want to be repetitive, but I think a good answer, and probably the most recent one, is that I had the salutatorian of our school, who was a student of mine who just graduated, Audrey, who decided to research the history of schooling in New York City. And specifically look at, um, the open air schools movement. With an understanding of, she wanted to get more of an understanding or gain deeper insight into perhaps how this could inspire teaching in New York City during the pandemic.

There’s a retired teacher by the name of Marty Raskin who has amassed the largest collection of public school artifacts probably in the world and he’s a retired New York City teacher himself. And I was fascinated. I wanted to learn more about the artifacts in his collection. And perhaps there would be purposeful ways that I can incorporate them into my teaching. And so, because I love schooling, and if you can learn about history and current events, these deep connections, through a school related artifact, that’s pretty cool. So some of the artifacts that he shared with me, he shared student journals actually from students, from our school building, Washington Irving, going back over a hundred years, that I share with students so they can get a sense of what was it like being a student during the Depression, in this very same school, what was it like being a student when America was at war during World War II. And there’s also some interesting artifacts that I have.

There was a, I forgot what elementary school it was, an elementary school in Queens and I have actually, you know what, I’m going to pull it out. This is it. This is a student work product. It says Bill of Rights week, February 13th, 1941 from PS. 58 Queens. And if you look in it, it describes, cause we do this at our school. I facilitate a civics week every year at my cool. So it’s interesting to see what civics look like at other schools in the 1940s. So the first thing is the salute to the flag. The second thing is a selection from the Bible. The third is a prayer of Thanksgiving. There’s a patriotic selection. Then there’s a song, God Bless America. And so I would ask, I would show this to students. I would ask them, what’s stands out to you, you know, what might you find surprising. And we would connect that to our understanding of the First Amendment and freedom of religion and the interpretations of that. And how schools go about providing freedom of religion, right. Does that mean that we abstain from all religious activity in schools to begin with? It’s very interesting for students, and that was a piece of student work from a school in New York City. And I think those are, you know, those type of our facts are very, very relevant to get students interested in understanding connections between local history and important themes in history and current events.

Jon M: [00:27:38] That is so cool.

Amy H-L: [00:27:40] David, it sounds to me as though some of the experiences that you’re providing for your students are really what I would call grounded in ethics and ethics in the Ethical Schools sense, which is doing an ethics, thinking about the impacts that various courses of action have not only on students, themselves and their immediate families and communities, but also other humans and animals other than humans. Do you find the language of ethics at all helpful in your lessons?

David E: [00:28:18] Very much so. I mean, my philosophy as a teacher and how I approach teaching other people’s children is the fact that we should look at each other as equals in the process of learning. And students come to the table with incredible knowledge and past experiences. And we can’t ignore those things. We need to elevate student voice in our classrooms and the activities that we’re doing outside of our classrooms as well to be a platform for students to express themselves and to learn more about the things that they’re most passionate about. And one of the, one of the nicest things in terms of doing these projects with students is we’re both learning and we’re learning together.

And Raul knows as much, if not more, more about the Gideon and the Great Dock or the Wall Street slave market then than I do. And so I can sit down, I can be a learner. And we both have the opportunity to experience being a facilitator and a teacher, and also being a learner. And that really fosters relationships with students to students first and foremost, then the teachers that are passionate about teaching and also passionate about learning. And so I want my students to see me as someone who is inquisitive, that wants to act on certain things. I want them to act on certain things, but I want my students to think of me as someone who is just first and foremost, someone who loves learning and that will celebrate the learning that they do as well.

Amy H-L: [00:30:04] David, relationships are integral to teaching and learning. This last spring, teachers had the advantage of already having established relationships with their students when they had to switch to virtual learning. How will you establish rapport with new students when you have to start the semester online?

David E: [00:30:26] So, first off, I don’t know if I’m going to start the semester  online, but regardless of if I get to start the semester in person or online, some of the fundamental things I do are going to be the same. So every year, the first activity that I do with the students is I have them create a summer learning moment poster. And I make one, I make one myself as well. So maybe I’ll give a little thought to like what I’m going to write about. Or the poster that I’m going to make for the first day of school. But I ask students to think of anything that they experienced over the summer and to think critically about it by zooming in and being specific about what happened to them and then zooming out. And what’s the big picture? What did you learn? And they share these not only with me, so I get to learn about them, but they share them with each other so they get to learn about each other. And that’s important for a number of reasons. First, it emphasizes that we all come in with experiences, some good, some bad, but you can learn from them, which is the most important thing. And your experiences make you the person that you are. And we do real structured sharing. So people feel comfortable sharing. And that students also realize that they don’t necessarily, sharing doesn’t mean this raising your hand, everybody looks at you, and you talk. You can share by creating an artifact like this, and you can do a gallery walk of them and students can leave comments and feedback to one another. Like what resonated with you? What did you learn? And so this was, I’ve started off the year doing this activity for a number of years now. And regardless if we’re  virtual or if we’re in person, we’re going to do this as well, because it’s important for students to do. Perhaps even more so if I don’t, if we’re not in person and I don’t get to have, you know, unique, interesting side conversations with students. That happens all the time.

The second one, the thing that I want to do, and I learned after, you know, a few months of virtual learning that there is so much power in one-on-one video conferencing with students. You get to learn about students, they get to learn about you. I mean, that’s the thing that I would probably miss the most when schools are closed. And so, but I do feel confident that they could be recreated virtually. And so one thing that I would do is I would set up a time to have a one-on-one conversation with students and maybe I would center that conversation on their summer learning poster and, you know, I’m the type of teacher, I know this doesn’t go for every teacher, I get it. Like there’s other things going on in their households while they’re teaching that they might not feel comfortable with their camera on or for students to see where they live. But yeah, that’s not me. I’m an open book and I think it really helps to foster trust and relationships with students. And so I want students to see what my life is like. And during the pandemic, when things were difficult, I didn’t pretend they were, when I had hardships and struggles, like I would share that with them. And I want them to see my daughter running into my room and grabbing my leg and, you know, distracting me from whatever I’m doing because that’s real life. And I want to see what their real lives are as well. And I think that, you know, this telecommunication really breaks down those boundaries and people could really be vulnerable if they allow themselves to be and see one another and see what, what their existence is and what their lives are like. And so that’s something that I definitely want to harness as well if we begin the school year remotely.

Jon M: [00:34:18] These are really great takeaways that I think could be really useful to people. I have a separate kind of question, which is, you said that you think that collaboration among teachers is valuable. Do you have suggestions for teachers who would like to collaborate on projects with other teachers?

David E: [00:34:37] Yes. So when I speak to schools are like cages, it’s not just schools in general. I mean, each individual class, unfortunately, is in some respects, a cage. And it’s disheartening to me when you walk through a school and you see all these teachers doing incredible things with their doors closed, because what message does that send to students, right. That learning should be shared. It should be celebrated on a large scale, but also as a teacher, like, you know, not have exposure to other classrooms. And I, you know, there’s nothing special about me. I’m just a product of the experiences that I’ve had. And thankfully I’ve had wonderful mentors along the way who helped me to become the teacher that I am. And that inspired me and helped me. And so it’s super, super important for teachers to collaborate with one another. It takes a lot of courage and it also takes a lot of creativity and it also takes a lot of trust, which develops with time. It’s been a struggle for me. It’s actually part of my job, but it’s been a struggle for me to get other teachers involved in these types of projects, but I feel confident, given the success and also the curiosity from other people. It really gets teachers thinking about, wow, this is really cool and people care. And when teachers see other people that care about something, they’re excited about something, they’ll get excited as well. And if they see students especially excited about something, they’ll get excited as well. So I’m hoping to continue to use, I think my students are my best outreach. And when they talk about these projects that they’re doing, it falls on the ear of teachers and perhaps if they were deaf ears, they become a little bit more open. And I think that there’s really creative, unique ways to get other teachers, regardless of what discipline that they’re in, to contribute. There’s always ways to contribute.

Jon M: [00:36:46] Do you have some specific suggestions, either of examples of things you’ve been able to do or things that you’d like to be able to do?

David E: [00:36:52] Yeah, definitely. So I need to give that some more thought for this specific project, but our students have also been engaged in a project around sustainability, specifically water safety at our school, because our school was identified as one of the many schools in New York City that had elevated levels in their water, and our students didn’t have access to clean drinking water. And so we did a number of civic action projects related to that, including using some money that the City gave us to have a school wide vote-in. Students voted to install two new water fountains at our school with bottle fillers and filtration systems.

But that also inspired us to continue that work. And since the students are going to be out of school, largely this school year, we want to ensure that their water is safe at home as well. And so there seems to be a lot of support among teachers and students at my school where we’re going to encourage everyone in our school to order a free lead test kit from New York City, which will arrive in their mail, and they’ll be able to test their water quality and safety at home. And I’m going to encourage students to do that collaboratively with their families, and then collaboratively after we get the results, we’re going to analyze the results of these water analysis tests. And perhaps it will spark, pursued civic action based upon what the results are. But, um, you know, the experiences that students have making this map, like the platforms and technology that we use give us experience to build upon. So, you know, perhaps we’ll make a similar map to provide information about the results of these water quality tests. We can use the same technology and software to do that.

Amy H-L: [00:38:50] Will you try to involve other teachers in that project?

David E: [00:38:54] Yes. So already there’s there’s ELA teachers, English language arts teachers, who are going to get students involved in writing speeches related to some of the civic action projects that we’ve done so far and ones that we’re going to do future. And they’ve already been doing this work to writing amazing speeches in their class. It’s just, in isolation. It’s not necessarily tied to the other things that students are learning about in their other classes. And so when learning gets tied together, it just builds, it snowballs, it fosters additional collaboration. If it’s a success, it’s a win and wins are important. Cause then teachers feel good about what they’re doing and it helps break down this cage, this cage mentality, of I do my thing, you do your thing. So our anatomy teacher is interested in talking about the effects that lead has on the body and to do additional like research and projects related to that. And, uh, our biology teacher as well. So I think it just builds on one another. And it’s awesome when things aren’t one off. So the work that we start, so like the water sustainability project that we started with students two years ago, we’re still continuing that thread. We don’t forget about it. We don’t just take on something new. We continue it, but it morphs into something else and it might take like a different avenue, but it’s still relevant. I think that’s really important. 

Amy H-L: [00:40:25] David, what do you hope students will come away with from your history classes and from knowing you as a person?

David E: [00:40:32] Ultimately, if I can spark students’ curiosity and I can develop students that are curious and want to learn more and that are excited about acting on that, then I feel like I’ve accomplished my goal and I tell students that all the time and that’s what I praise them for. I don’t, you know, I don’t place that much emphasis on grades, you know, you got a 90 something, you got an 80 something. It doesn’t really matter. That doesn’t matter. As long as I feel like I’ve sparked some curiosity in you and you want to, you want to act or do something, then I feel self-worth as a teacher. And I feel like you’re gonna go on to do great things.

Jon M: [00:41:19] Raul, are you interested in history as a, as a field? And if so, why? What is interesting about history?

Raul B: [00:41:30] I find history really interesting. And one event that made me find history so interesting was in the beginning of the year, we went on a tour of the school. We walked around the school and when we seen like pictures that I see it’s pictures, it’s maps, it’s many things that I walk past every day. Like I have noticed it, but I don’t pay attention to it. And we talked about it. We’ve seen like what the Dutch used to wear, the fur hats, we’ve seen the Native Americans, the Dutch in the past. And when you pay attention, there’s so much hidden history around. History is everywhere. And that’s what makes history so interesting.

Amy H-L: [00:42:11] Thank you so much, David and Raul.

Jon M: [00:42:14] And thank you listeners. If you liked this episode, please consider subscribing and giving us a rating or review. This helps other people to find the show. Check out our website, for  more episodes and articles and subscribe to our monthly emails. We post annotated transcripts of our interviews to make them easy to use in workshops or classes. We work with consultants to offer customized social emotional learning, or SEL, programs with a focus on ethics for schools and youth programs in the New York City area. Contact us at We’re on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @ethical chools. Our editor and social media manager is Amanda Denti. Till  next week. 

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