Getting Started in Community-Centered Teaching
   First steps in the Heritage Project

How do we get started?  How do I know who I need to talk to? How will I contact my interviewee? What if they really don’t want to talk to me? How will I know what to say? 

These are all common questions that students pose prior to beginning their projects. To help students achieve a rapport with potential interviewees and to assist with the ASK portion of the ALERT model, students where I teach in Townsend, Montana, often host a public event that will launch our entire project. In doing this, students and community members become acquainted, gain confidence, and set goals for future meetings. The event often sets the tone for the interview and helps students refine their questions and goals. 

Some student/community centered events that have worked for us are:

  • A student-sponsored veterans’ recognition program
  • A community quilt registration night sponsored in conjunction with the State Historical Quilt Project through the Montana State Historical Society
  • A student-sponsored Women’s Tea for the women of Broadwater County
  • A community portrait session in the Community/School library hosted by the students and the Montana Heritage Project
  • A Montana Heritage Project open house featuring completed projects and requests for help in putting together 82 years of Broadwater High School History

All of these events encouraged community members to participate and assisted students to ask more pertinent questions while learning about their local community.

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