The highest quality professional development occurs when educators and experts are brought together in one place to learn, discuss and explore issues relevant to daily classroom teaching and management. The Religious Freedom Center has developed nine in-person professional development workshops for groups of teachers, administrators and district officials that empower these stakeholders to skillfully negotiate issues relating to religion and public schools. These 1.5-hour workshops focus on the three core competencies addressed by the Religious Freedom Center — civil dialogue, religious literacy and legal literacy — and each competency has an introductory, intermediate and advanced session. School districts can choose which workshop sessions they would like to provide their educators and workshops can be customized to address issues specific to the district for a fee.
Educators are introduced to dialogue theory, explore the benefits and challenges of implementing civil dialogue in the classroom, especially around contentious issues, and learn how to create learning environments that promote dialogue and the exploration of many perspectives. Practical skills and interactive activities are explored to aid educators in introducing basic dialogue skills to their students and ultimately encourage those participating to become civil dialogue trainers and facilitators themselves.
Educators explore influential teaching models that provide guidance and frameworks for integrating and enhancing the academic study of religions in their classrooms. They also study the legal/political consensus reached by educational, civil liberties and religious organizations which agree public schools can, and should, promote the academic study of religions across the curriculum. The Georgia 3Rs Project may also convene a panel of religious studies scholars and experts to meet with educators and answer questions about specific religious traditions, as well as discuss best practices for bringing guest speakers into the classroom.
Educators and administrators apply First Amendment principles to the real-life challenges they face each day in religiously diverse classrooms. Designed to give participants a clear understanding of the legal rights of all public-school stakeholders, educators will leave with practical knowledge and guidelines outlining how to handle religious literacy and religious liberty issues in the classroom both academically and constitutionally. Throughout, educators and administrators will trace the history of religion and public schools as they relate to the U.S. Supreme Court while exploring real-life case studies of districts that have faced challenging scenarios concerning religious liberty. The Georgia 3Rs Project can also facilitate meetings between religious freedom legal experts and a district’s board of education and superintendent to review and develop First Amendment policies on the constitutional role of religion in public schools. These policy reviews will ensure district leadership is fully informed and practically prepared to address religious freedom issues as they arise.