Looking back at everything that I have accomplished in the three years I have been a teacher, it doesn’t really seem like a lot. History is history. Economics is boring. These are the ideas I have to conquer as a teacher. I look at this as often as possible. Three word sentences that impact my life as a teacher daily. Thinking about these phrases allows me to really dive into my main duty as a teacher, making the content not just about the content.
The idea that I have to not only teach the content but make it relatable scares me. No student is going to just want to hear about what dead people did or that the supply and demand lines create prices. So as a teacher, our job is to make it stick. There are many ways that I try to make this happen. Looking at the content, making fun connections to my life, and allowing the students to not only learn the content, but make the connections to real life. My favorite example comes from a Bell Ringer question that I pose during my Rome unit. For those who don’t know, Rome was founded by Romulus, a king who murdered his brother in order to get the throne. I look at this small piece of evidence and say “How can I make this impact students?” This one question allows me to learn way more about the students and their backgrounds as compared to anything else I have done in the classroom. I ask “What was the most intense fight you have ever had with a sibling or someone who meant a lot to you?” I tell them multiple stories about fights with my siblings (when you have five of them, it is pretty easy to rack up a lot of them) and they open up and we get to talk. Sometimes, it is as little as a verbal argument. Sometimes, it is a life-changing scenario. Being able to bond with my students, giving them the space to allow them to speak about their lives, and finding connection to the content makes my job a wonderful experience.
Making personal connections is one of the easiest ways to really gain students’ trust in the classroom. I try to do this as often as possible. I love telling stories (I wouldn’t be a history teacher if I didn’t). Trying to combat those two phrases from my introduction makes me reflect often on how these connections with the students really makes my job fun. I love being able to tap into their likes and dislikes and run with that information. Joking with the kids and allowing them to ask important questions about life are the main aspects of my job that I look forward to everyday.
Probably the most fun I have in class is being able to bring in my passion to make learning fun. My biggest passion is comic books. I don’t know what I would do without these made up characters and their amazing stories. I talk to my students regularly about different things when it comes to comics: Would Batman beat Captain America? Would Bane be a good Batman? If the Justice League has the Watchtower, who watches them? All of these can be tied into different historical ideas and I try to do this as often as I can with help from the amazing Tim Smyth at historycomics.net. He has been such an inspiration to me as a teacher ever since Jason introduced me to him. I have been a part of his monthly twitter chats (first Sunday of the month #educomix), I am a part of the Comic Book Teachers Facebook page, and have used some of his resources to build my curriculum in my World History class. Using this information has allowed me to have a renewed vigor for teaching and wanting to excel in the field. I will continue to talk about my different Try’s with these concepts. Can’t wait to let you guys “into” my classroom!!!