Social Studies Supervisors Association Hosts Professional Development Conference at China Institute
By Lucas Mautner & Margaux Montagner
(L-R) Director Shenzhan Liao & President James B. Heimowitz, The China Institute
Recently, Social Studies Supervisors Association hosted their second professional development conference at China Institute in New York City. The conference included breakfast, presentations by speakers, including a Keynote Address by James B. Heimowitz, President of China Institute, as well as workshops, exhibitions, and a guided tour of the facilities. Speakers included Jack Chan, President of SSSA, Shenzhan Liao, Director of Education at China Institute, and a slew of others including scholars, educators, and administrators. The conference was sponsored by SSSA and supported by China Institute, Pearson Education, and Confucius Institute at China Institute.
Among the presenters were Dr. Gerald Blaney and Ying Wu, who conducted a workshop focusing on the correlation between Chinese identity and the Han Dynasty, as well as the influence of the Han Dynasty in China and around the globe. Parallels were drawn between the Han Dynasty and the Roman Empire. In this workshop, “participants [explored] how to teach about Chinese civilization through a comparative world history approach.” Jeffrey Winograd, Assistant Principal of The High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at CCNY held a workshop entitled “Preparing Bilingual Students for the Social Studies Regents Examination.” Educators learned how to assist students in essay writing, as well as ways to “incorporate Regents skills within…daily lessons.” Kasuni Christian, a teacher at New Utrecht High School, led a workshop that focused on the Global History & Geography Regents exam’s constructed-response question, including strategies on how best to prepare students for the exam. Participants were shown questions shown on previous exams in order to show ways in which the questions have evolved through the years. At the end of the workshop, participants worked together on fashioning their own questions so as to better understand the entire process.
Nearly a hundred Social Studies educators from over ten schools across New York City attended the day’s events at China Institute. Jack P. Chan, President of SSSA, said that the impetus for the conference series was the fact that the “NYS Education Department created a new Social Studies K-12 Framework and NYC DOE created the Social Studies Scope and Sequence…in addition, NYS will also roll out a new Global History and Geography Regents exam” in 2018. SSSA’s goal in hosting the series of conferences is to “prepare administrators and teachers for these new initiatives.” Their first conference, held in June of this year, attracted 120 participants. SSSA is now planning for their June 2018 professional development conference, which will once again take place at China Institute, and will include a new partnership with One World Observatory. Mr. Chan, when reflecting on the process of planning the series, was reminded of a Colin Powell quote: “’A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.’” He further said that “SSSA has been working very hard in the past few years to get to where we are now. In the process, uncertainties and worry appeared. Yet, members have been very determined to overcome these speedbumps and continue moving forward with our mission.”
SSSA is a New York City-based professional organization of Social Studies administrators and educators. The Association partners with other Social Studies professional organizations, as well as cultural organizations. SSSA provides professional development workshops for Social Studies administrators and educators across NYC.
China Institute was founded in 1926, dedicated to “bridging the United States and China by sharing insights and deepening trust through the pillars of education, culture and business.” Since 1944, China Institute has been a chartered school of continuing education certified by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York. It is the oldest educational center devoted to Chinese language and culture in the United States. #