Year 6: United States History and World History.
This year is a blur. Don’t quite remember any details. This is when my love of United States history began to decline.
Year 7: World History and Humanities.
When I was in high school I did not have separate history and English classes, I had two-hour Humanities classes. An English teacher (who had attended the same high school) and I decided to do a similar program. We integrated the English and world history classes into a single class. We team taught the class – sometimes jamming 70 kids into one classroom. I loved having a chance to have the students for two hours at a time. We made a great team and had another great year. My second son was born at the end of the year.
Year 8: World History and Humanities.
Unfortunately, Humanities only filled a single block. That meant I had to have three other classes to fill out my load. For the first time, I took on an Applied Arts world history. This was a lower level class with a variety of students – some with legitimate learning disabilities, others as English language learners, and, to spice up the class, a decent chunk of behavior problems and lazy students. It was overall a tough year – my youngest didn’t sleep through the night and someone in the house was sick for much of the year.
Year 9: United States History and World History.
My Humanities teaching partner left the school and I decided that I didn’t want to try and bring another English teacher into the mix. For the first time, I tried taking on a 6/5 schedule – which meant no prep period (and more money). It nearly killed me. Second semester, I had a student teacher teach two of the world history classes. While I liked my U.S. History classes, especially the maturity difference between 10th and 11th graders, I really continued to connect more and more to world history.
Year 10: AP World History and World History.
Officially gave up United States History (except for summer school!). Took on AP World History. What a challenge. Probably the best teaching year of my career – right in the midst of a serious labor conflict and finishing my MA. Can’t wait to repeat this schedule next year. A lot of new tricks up my sleeve.
Reflections, insights, suggestions for new teachers, etc.
- It takes a few years to discover your comfort zone. Experiment, don’t be afraid to be push the limit. If it doesn’t work, make it work or do something different.
- Classroom management is everything. If you don’t have control, you won’t get anywhere. However, you have to relax. Don’t have too much control. A little (or a lot) of controlled chaos can go a long way and let your students relax as well.
- Academically, be tough, but fair. Challenge them, don’t beat them down.
- Relax. Smile. Have fun. Laugh at your students – they are funny, even when they don’t mean to be. Laugh with your students, especially when they make fun of you.
- Be flexible. No lesson is more important then a teachable moment. How much of the Origins of Democratic Thought are they actually going to remember anyways. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously now.
- Change. Don’t get stuck with stale curriculum. New lessons, projects, etc. will keep you invested in the curriculum – that investment will transfer to the students.
- Don’t take your students actions personally. They are young. They won’t appreciate the time you put into a lesson or project. They won’t say thank you (except for a few, of course). Sometimes they just don’t care, its not you. It is the fact they are children and maybe human beings.
- Read The World is Flat (yes I know some of his points are simplistic or a little off, but the gist of the book is very real) and then start teaching different. Use technology. Teach in a way that makes your students from your community have a chance in the global economy. Think how much different the world was ten years ago, how much different will be in ten more.
- If you are a new teacher read Okay, rookie, we’re gonna put you in by Ms. Cornelius over at a Shrewdness of Apes.
- Break away from you being the absolute center of the class, even if you enjoy it. They are the center, you need to help guide (and sometimes shove) them in the right direction.
It has been a great ten years. My favorite number is 11, this one should be a good year.
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