Teach for Ukraine – a two-year teaching program similar to Teach for America – began training its first cohort last week, and part of that training included a workshop on IWitness and constructivist learning theory led by USC Shoah Foundation’s Ukraine regional consultant Anna Lenchovska.
Teach for Ukraine will train young professionals and graduates to teach in some of the country’s most challenging and high-need schools for two years. Earlier this month, the first cohort began its six-week Summer Institute to prepare them to begin teaching in the fall.
Lenchovska’s two and a half hour training on July 12 focused on building an understanding of IWitness and the education theory of constructivism, on which IWitness’s educational resources are based. Lenchovska noted that theory was developed by Lev Vygotsky, a talented educator from the beginning of last century, whose works were banned by the Soviet regime, though are widely used by international educators.
“Now innovative Ukrainian educators have a chance to learn this theory and use it in their educational practice,” she said.
Lenchovska showed a clip from the testimony of Roma Holocaust survivor Georgy Radukan, who is from Odessa, where four of the new teachers will be teaching. The participants drew illustrations based on the clip and discussed the clip’s themes, including personal perceptions and choices, stereotypes about Roma, and the story Georgy tells about his grandfather.
They broke into small groups to discuss the concept of memory and how it is connected to testimony, historical context, perception and drawing.
“Participants concluded that a testimony clip of Georgy Radukan, a Roma survivor, can be used to overcome prejudice about Roma, to develop critical thinking and historical empathy,” Lenchovska said.
The newly-trained teachers plan to use IWitness in their future work in remote schools throughout in Kyiv, Lviv and Kharkiv.
Photos by Dana Verstak