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Teachers from Brooklyn, Bronxville, Manhattan, and central Connecticut took part in the 9/11 Tribute Museum’s annual two-day summer workshop.

This year’s theme – Engaging Students in Service, Inspired to Action by the Personal Stories of 9/11 – gave teachers insight into how they can present the stories of 9/11 to their students by highlighting the acts of compassion that took place on 9/11 and in the weeks and months afterward. “We believe the best way to talk with students about 9/11 is for adults to share their memories of that day. While listening to people’s stories, students can make an emotional connection to these events that took place before they were born,” emphasized Kristine Pottinger in her introduction to Tribute’s volunteer guides.

We believe the best way to talk with students about 9/11 is for adults to share their memories of that day.
– Kristine Pottinger, 9/11 Tribute Museum Director of Programs

The first activity of the workshop was to give the teachers themselves a chance to listen to our guides’ stories. The 9/11 family members, survivors and responders recounted what they experienced during that traumatic time, but then talked about how they had moved forward by helping others. Their transformation was aptly described by one of the teachers – “When the volunteer guides first shared their stories with us they were very emotional, but later in the day, as we became more emotional, they were solid as a rock. They became the support for us.”

Over the 2 days, three guest speakers gave presentations that suggested techniques for involving students in caring about service activities. Patrick McMahon, Communications Officer at the Bill + Melinda Gates Foundation, talked about the importance of showing students the positive aspects of a story before delving into the more difficult aspects which can immediately cause them to shut down. Kevin Feinberg, Program Director at Facing History and Ourselves, asked teachers to engage students in thinking about what their obligations are to their families, their friends and their communities. Tracy Garrison Feinberg, Middle School Teacher, suggested framing a visit to the 9/11 Tribute Museum with a class discussion beforehand – “What does it mean to be of service? What did it mean on 9/11 and in the days and weeks afterwards? What does it mean to you today?”

At the end of the workshop, the teachers worked in small groups and developed some very thoughtful and exciting lesson plans. As they implement them in their classrooms and share the results with us, we will, in turn, share them with you.

The 9/11 Tribute Museum will be hosting open houses for teachers in the Fall so that you can learn more about how we can serve educators and students. Visit our Professional Development page for more workshops and upcoming events.

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