It's the final day before the end of the first quarter, and I am in the midst of the senior shuffle...
All day, kids walk in and beg for forgiveness and mercy to review for the final... to get an extension... to turn in late work...
I sit and listen to them with poise and compassion, and dole out indulgences with an even and just disposition.
These kids are trying to be the best students they can. I know that in my 36 years of wisdom, I have forgotten what it is like to be on the other side of the desk. To sit through four blocks with no physical ed is TORTURE! Power points and lecture notes and labs seem unending!
So, today I am sitting and reflecting on what I can do to be a constantly improving teacher. This is for my fellow lovgubbers and all teachers in general.
I work with too many professionals who are ridiculously wise, but find collaboration and sharing to be a threat.
I get this. I am a former collegiate athlete. Competition is truly a drug, and I want to be the best. But, my experience in life tells me this can't happen. I can't be the best teacher every day, day in and day out, to the 125 kids revolving around my universe. I get sick, distracted, frustrated, tired... and I miss the mark completely even though I tried my hardest.
So, I seek refuge in collaboration. My collaboration happens with an awesome peer network at my school... but if you don't have that or WHATEVER... there is life out on the web.
I started this website to collaborate and share at the same time as many other government teachers started to do the EXACT same thing.
Here are some of my favorite teacher created government resources on line:
I also collaborate on FB in secret groups and on Edmodo. There are so many awesome resources out there.
Beyond this, there are a ton of apps and on-line materials that help lovgubbers teach gov better. And they are often reliant upon primary and secondary materials... not pithy commentary from wikihow or answers.com.
Here are some of my favorites:
BONUS: MOOCs from UVA and Stanford...
Apps and Services to make your classroom BETTER
All of these are free, and make my students happy. I use Prezi and Grid to sort and present information. I use Open States, Congress, Track Bill and Congressional Record to data mine. Socrative, Poll Everywhere and Kahootz let me quiz and assess my kids. Edmodo gives me online and moderated collaborative study sessions. Celly and Remind allow me to communicate with my students on field trips and outside of class time via text messages. Ted and Youtube... well, you know what that is for! And I keep my knowledge together and to date with Drive, TeacherPayTeachers, and Flipboard.
Do I use these daily? No! Not all of them... I really use them at particular times of the year... but they are all free, all easy for the kids, and reaches the kids how they want to be reached. It's accessible, fun, and translatable.
I know this is overwhelming. Doing something well will be overwhelming. But the great news is that there are awesome teachers, resources, and tools that are out there for you to use everyday in your classroom. You now have knowledge... start hacking away at the data! Collaborate something beautiful! Stay a mindful learner and teach so your kids remember the material! You can do it!
Wow. The new school year has really hit me hard this year. I have been scrambling to keep up with all of the new fun demands of the school board, two preps (both government, but both of them requiring significant effort and retooling), new students, and all the demands of life outside of teaching.
I find myself trolling the Internet routinely for new ways to teach and reach my students.
I look for games (online and old-school), primary source lessons, ideas, apps, interviews, videos, tech-based, and otherwise. I have found so much, and want to share maybe ten really cool things that I am having some luck with in my classroom.
Social Networking is my friend
I am finding that my own, personal social networking accounts are converting over to extensions of professional development.
Twitter has a set crew of government teachers who meet on Sundays from 6-7pm PST and share resources and ideas on pre-arranged topics. I perused their latest chat on elections, and was blown away by the variety of content shared. Check them out... do a search for #hsgovchat and share or pose a question! If you want more, including archived resources, check out their website... Best thing here, you do NOT need a twitter account to see what they say, but an account is necessary if you want to say something.
Facebook has a similar private group for AP Government Teachers. I like this format because it is more dialogue and sharing of actual ideas and units than just posting of resources around the Internet. It is closer knit, with a puprose, and has a lot of collaboration with subject-matter experts in the AP Government world. Look them up on FB and ask for permission to join.
Photo via Flickr/Ted Eytan