Daniel Diaz understands some of the challenges educators are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. His wife is a school administrator. The elementary school his two young children attend is closed. And as Director of the UCLA History-Geography Project, the former high school teacher has been in regular conversations with teachers across Southern California - teachers who have shared stories of students without regular internet access, children who must take care of their younger siblings at home while their parents try to earn a living, and confusing directions changing daily from their school and district administrators.
But Diaz also understands that the crisis presents a real opportunity that he and his UCLA colleagues, Cindy Mata and Amparo Chavez-Gonzalez, are determined to take advantage of. As Diaz noted, this is a “…unique historical moment for educators. If we can document our experiences now, we can build community, and at the same time, create primary sources that might inform future histories.” Toward that end, the team has launched the #COVID-19HistoryProject, a coordinated effort to document the impact of the pandemic on history-social science and ethnic studies teachers in California.
Diaz and his colleagues are focused on getting the teachers’ perspective during this crisis by asking educators to explain the challenges they’re facing as they try to navigate the balance of work and their personal life during shelter in-place. They’re also asking about how teachers are handling the transition from in-person to online learning – both as educators and for some, as parents. “We’re attempting to document the experiences of educators as they transition to working from home, adapting courses using web tools, and trying to balance work, life, and the constant stream of news,” Diaz explained.
As history educators, Diaz and his team have an obvious interest in documenting the current crisis for future historical study. But the #COVID-19HistoryProject is about more than that, Diaz argues. “We believe that in providing educators across the K16 continuum a chance to write and explore the experiences of others that we are not only documenting this unique historical moment, but also building community.”
To participate in the #COVID19HIstoryProject, click here. The UCLA History-Geography Project, a regional site of the California History-Social Science Project, is housed in Center X in the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies.