This year the stars aligned in just the right way for me to get a couple of 11th grade United States history classes to complement my 10th world history classes. I have taught it in the past, but it is the most popular subject to teach in my department (five teachers teach it regularly compared to four who teach world history), and scheduling a section or two for me hasn’t always worked out for the last three years.
While I majored in and use to like U.S. History more then the world history (a subject for another post), one of the big reason I enjoy it now is watching the students mature. Since I teach the 10th grade class, I end up for a lot of the same students. This year of the 80 kids in my U.S. History classes, I had about half of them last year. That can be good and bad. The pre-existing relationship moves the class to a point of trust and openness that takes longer when you don’t know the students. However, for that very reason these kids think they can get away with more. I have reminded more juniors then sophomores, that I am not their “buddy” or their friend; I’m their teacher.
This is all coming from a couple of e-mails I have received from a student. While bright and occasionally motivated, the circle of friend he associates with has helped push him off course at times. He has been distancing himself from these people and really starting to grasp that the future doesn’t have to include them. A year and a half ago, when he entered my class, I don’t think he would have ever made that conclusion.
I’m amazed at how much students mature between their sophomore and junior years. For many, they finally get it. They see the importance of what they are doing and start figuring out what needs to happen next. Others simply sit still for longer periods of time. Their ability to think deepens. And. most importantly, their eyes open to really look at the world around them, the world they will be entering in a couple years.