Reflecting on Week 1
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains.”
As I read chapter 1 of Instructional Strategies for Middle and Secondary Social Studies by Larson and Keiper, I tried to reflect on the material in front of me from a new perspective, on the other side of the desk. Now that I have been to my classroom and have seen the different dynamics from class to class and the struggles that my CT has in reaching his different levels of students, I am starting to realize that this is a major challenge in teaching. I felt that the picture of the key is appropriate for my experience this week, because unlocking a complicated door/lock seems to describe the feeling of relief and satisfaction that a teacher gets when he/she finally reaches that student that they couldn’t reach, gets a point across to a classroom, conducts a successful lesson, etc.
As I read through this chapter, I liked how the authors discussed curriculum as a tool rather than a limiting factor in a classroom. I think that many teachers feel this pressure from their curriculum to only teach what’s mandated by the state or “teach to the test”, but Larson and Keiper really broke down that barrier and discussed the curriculum as something that teachers can alter and make fit in their classroom. If anything, the curriculum should help me as a new teacher to act as a guide or handbook so I know what I need to be teaching and what direction/plan I will create for my classroom.
I also really enjoyed the discussion of cultural literacy vs. multicultural education as it pertains to social studies. I think that it’s important to teach students to thrive in the society in which they live, but also understand and embrace other cultures. We discussed this divide in Schooling in American Society, and I really held the position that there doesn’t need to be a divide, especially in the multilingual, multicultural America that we live in today. Yes, students need to learn about American government and history, but they also will increasingly need to know about world systems, economics and cultures because of the fact that the world is becoming a closer, more tight-knit community.
The last piece of this chapter that I found especially helpful is the tips for new teachers. I like that the authors recognized that it is important to seek advice from current teachers, ask questions, create goals, etc. It is interesting to me because when I was discussing becoming a teacher with my CT he gave me interesting advice which was, “Make sure you find teachers that you can go to for advice, but don’t spend too much time in the teachers lounge.” When I asked why he said that it is important to connect to your students and experience everything for yourself rather than get caught up in negativity that other teachers may express about your students. I understand what he’s saying and think it is pretty good advice, especially as a young, excited teacher. Overall, I am really enjoying my CT and hope to continue this kind of dialogue with him.