My first year of teaching was a whirlwind with late nights and a pile of paper that never seemed to get any shorter. I felt like I spent every other day battling my classroom management plan as students continued to act in ways that I never thought possible. I went into survival mode, using lessons that had been used by other teachers for years without being revised. Or I was creating assignments where students had to stay in their seats the entire class to avoid any misbehavior. By the end of the year I was excited to be through that first year of teaching, but by the time the new school year rolled around I found myself bored with my lessons. Then I was thinking, “If I’m bored with teaching these lessons then there is no way that my students are enjoying this.” To be honest, this has me completely freaked out. I want my students to enjoy history and to enjoy learning. I am fortunate that World History is not a course that has been forced into standardized testing. I do not have to worry about my students mastering a specific skill set in order to show that our school is being successful. I have always wanted my class to be a space where students can create and explore history. There are so many fabulous times in World History to learn about, that they should have endless potential for exploration.
Only after one year of teaching I felt like I had gotten away from what I believe is important in a classroom. That first year of teaching is difficult and the lessons I had created were good, but they could be better. Looking back at that first year I realize that now is the time to get back to what my vision is for my classroom. This is not going to happen over night, and it may even take months. But this is going to be my chance to really create something that is going to be engaging for my students.
I want my students to be able to problem solve and think critically so they will be know how history is impacting their daily lives. They need to build skills that they are going to use once they leave PHS and are thrown out into the real work. The stack of endless papers needs to dwindle as the years go on. Moving towards a paperless classroom (or close to paperless) is going to be key to a successful redesign. Utilizing Canvas is going to help get rid of the stack of papers while students are able to build the desired technology skills. But, it is more than not having worksheets that are online, it is about creating collaborative activities that allow students to explore and analyze major themes in history.
Today's thoughts come to us from Ms. Ali Ranallo. Ali is in her second year teaching at Pike High School. She graduated from Butler University in 2016 and started working at Pike the following school year. She teaches in the social studies department and has both U.S. History and World History classes.