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Cherry’s Blossoms: Professional Collaboration

Terry L. Cherry

On November 30, 2016, nearly one year ago, the NCSS Board of Directors approved a new NCSS Strategic Plan (www.socialstudies.org/about/strategicplan). It comprises five priorities: Collaboration; Communication; Innovation; Inclusiveness; and Influence and Leadership. This Strategic Plan is broad enough to allow for many ideas, and there are many ways these priorities are being implemented.

In this message, I will look especially at the first priority, Collaboration. I would like to clarify a few things at the start. I’m offering my interpretation, not agreed-upon policy, and anything is up for discussion. Phrases italicized are quotes from the Strategic Plan.

NCSS collaborates and engages with stakeholders to prepare students for civic life. To prepare students for “civic life” does not mean that a student will be taking only a government and a civic class in high school. A comprehensive social studies curriculum, grades k-12, is necessary to prepare students for fully engaged civic life.

To prepare students for civic life, NCSS must work within the social studies world, reaching out to those organizations that are not directly affiliated with NCSS, but share the same ideals and wishes for students. Working together means supporting each other in our efforts to provide high quality professional development, resources, and materials that influence teacher effectiveness and student learning. You can see many of our colleagues in the sessions, workshops, and Exhibit Hall of the NCSS Annual Conference (www.socialstudies.org/conference).

Collaboration involves NCSS seeking ideas, information, and ingenuity from members, affiliated groups, and professional colleagues and institutions. By collecting information, NCSS becomes the “go to website” for educators seeking social studies teaching resources, professional development, and networking. For example, unfettered collaboration between our members has been enabled by NCSS’s Connected website where, after logging in, you can participate by joining a Special Interest Community and entering an ongoing discussion, sharing a file, posting a blog, and more. Visit connected.socialstudies.org.

Reaching beyond our own discipline is an example of collaboration necessary for NCSS to make an impact in the wider world of education and civic life. NCSS leads by example and seeks to influence educators, researchers, communities, and policymakers to strengthen civic life. For example, NCSS Executive Director Larry Paska was recently interviewed on National Public Radio (listen at www.socialstudies.org/news/nprs-robert-siegel-interviews-ncss-executive-director-larry-paska).

The goal is for students to be engaged in the classroom and beyond. There are many ways to achieve this goal, and they all involve collaboration. Creating partnerships with those who have similar aspirations is the basis of collaboration. The results will provide many avenues to prepare students for civic life.

Finally, even in this age of the Internet, there is nothing like meeting colleagues face to face at a state, regional, or national conference. The formal and informal conversations that happen can lead to unexpected collaborations. The energy is building toward the 97th NCSS Annual Conference being held in San Francisco December 15–19, 2017. I hope you can attend.

I always appreciate any and all comments you have, so please let me know. In addition, NCSS board members and staff want to hear how we can work with you to make NCSS your “go to” website. Write to me at tcherry@ncss.org.

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