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31 October 2017
GCDC Educator Professional Development Workshop Provides Open Forum and Skills Development

On October 20, 2017, InterAction, an alliance organization in DC of 
US-based international organizations, graciously hosted the Global Classrooms DC Professional Development Workshop. Thanks to a generous grant from the Rotary Club Foundation of Washington, DC, the DSC_0585all-day session was geared towards middle and high school teachers from private, public charter, and public schools in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Educators shared their best practices to prepare their students for the upcoming Fall Training Model UN Conference, as well as sustaining year-round Model UN and global education programs.

Model UN is a great opportunity to involve students in international affairs through teaching them about UN actions and global issues, in addition to them participating in simulations where they are assigned countries to represent and advocate for on different issues – just like in the real United Nations. The activity is also one of the most 
effective ways to teach students writing, negotiation, researching, and public speaking skills. As a member of the GCDC Community, the year-round program, teachers get access to a full school year of 9-unit curriculum on UN policies, procedures, and global affairs to prepare the students. 
On the workshop, the Global Classrooms DC team welcomed teachers from Bells Mill Elementary Schools, Berman Hebrew Academy, Thomas Edison High School, Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School, Baltimore International Academy and DC International School. The main idea of the seminar focused on educators participating in a mini-simulation in which they act as delegates from the most affected and impactful countries related to the Yemen refugee crisis. It was an excellent chance for teachers to experience what their students undergo during both in the preparation process and during Model UN conferences. As one of the teachers pointed out, “After the procedure, it helped to see what students might find challenging during their process.”

DSC_0573.jpgThroughout the simulation, teachers reviewed Model UN procedures and periodically had discussions on the sometimes complex UN rules and regulations. Some of the teachers noted that they enjoyed learning about the different steps in the process, vocabulary, and hearing the experiences of the organizers and participants. The simulation ended with teachers working together as different countries, and writing their ideas down on how to resolve the crisis, or a resolution paper. This process exposed educators to using the formal language of UN documents, and to demonstrate what kind of struggles students experience during collaborative writing.

Following the resolution, the educators gathered to reflect on the simulation. Many great ideas flowed around the room as the participants started listing the benefits of the simulation process in teaching students various multi-disciplinary skills. 
DSC_0538For instance, one of them commented, “It can help kids to learn academically and developmentally to analyze, critically think, write and research… for emotional and mental development by working in groups, speaking publicly in agreement and disagreement in a respectful manner.” One of the highlights of the day was when the teachers recognized the importance for students to learn about the importance of culture in international relationships. 

The Model UN Professional Development Workshop concluded with an exchange of ideas on running Model UN programs at schools and best practices used in teaching the activity. As some of the participants were new to Model UN, it was a great opportunity for them to learn from other teachers. The day turned out great with teachers and Global Classrooms DC team having meaningful conversations towards their mutual purpose: to educate young students on international affairs and the role of the UN.