Tuesday, May 19, 2015

End of the School Year Wrap Up

The 2014-2015 school year is coming to a close-only three more days left with students! I'm genuinely excited for summer, but at the same time I dread the end of school. The last day of school means letting go of the students I've worked so hard with for the past nine month, it means that I won't have one more chance to finally get those light bulbs to click on and it always means something is changing.

Gone are the days where teachers stayed in the same room year after year and taught the same lessons each year. I do repeat a few lessons each year, but for the most part summer is my time to refresh, find new ways of teacher, reflect on what worked and what didn't work etc. etc. This summer is going to be even busier because I'm changing subjects for next year. For the past four years I've taught English and next year I'm going to be a Social Studies teacher! I'm thrilled since my degree is in Social Studies and the English certification was just a back up in case I couldn't get a Social Studies job (and I'm thankful I had it).

While I'm super excited to be teaching my first love and getting to share my passion for history and government with my students I'm also freaking out a little bit over the amount of work that has to be done. My new colleagues are super supportive and helpful-always freely sharing resources but we have a new test to prepare for so none of us have all the resources we need. We need to get better at meeting the Common Core Standards and at covering document based questions so we're rewriting our tests, creating new lessons together and figuring out strategies to teach writing and reading in the Social Studies department. It makes me thankful I have the English experience so I'm already ahead of the curve-History and English are super easy to mix! This year I taught World War II/Holocaust, Civil War and The Great Depression all in the context of covering literature from those eras.

However, even though mixing English and History is easy it still requires a lot of work on my part. I have a ton of ideas for teaching and for making our Social Studies classes even better! Social Studies is often seen as something that isn't important (and it certainly isn't afforded the importance of Math and English), often times it is looked at more as an elective rather than a core class. However, Social Studies is a great opportunity to inspire students to make changes in their world, emphasize high level reading skills, utilize critical thinking skills to analyze historical documents and social problems and to write essays and letters that require evidence and the defense of a position. Social Studies can also help students become better citizens and affect our whole world in a positive manner. It is my goal to make Social Studies a course that is important, relevant and an important part of a well rounded education.

I'm afraid of falling into the trap of showing movies everyday (since there are SO MANY excellent Social Studies movies) or just having students color maps every single day. I've seen classes like that and I can't see the educational value-I want a class that is rigorous, truly prepares students for high school and life and inspires passion in my students. Too many kids complain that history is boring-but there are SO MANY fun things about history and I want to expose them to all of it!

Along with my new subject I have to move rooms as well so the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of cardboard and tape! DH is away on a business trip so I'm holding down the fort at home along with packing up a whole classroom (and I'm one of those teachers who should probably be featured on Hoarders). I'm also leaving for Europe on the last day of school to meet up with DH which means I'm desperately trying to get the yard mowed in between rain showers (which seem to be occurring every single day), running the dog to the vet to get shots, packing for the trip, buying last minute items, packing all the things DH forgot etc etc.

Even though my summers are never a do nothing time for me (seriously my to do list is 4 typed pages long!) I'm excited to catch up on all the stuff I neglect during the school year and prepare for my new classroom and my new subject. Plus I'm thrilled for a four day educational conference, two different trips to Europe and plenty of time with the dog! DH is in his busy time at work (harvest time) so he'll be traveling most of the summer, but I can't wait for the days he is home so we can do super fun stuff together (like swimming and bike rides). I'm also planning on teaching the dog to go on bike rides with me so she can get more exercise (since her vet said she was getting chunky) without killing my injured foot!

I'm sad to say goodbye to my current group of students and my current subject-I've really enjoyed my English career-yet I can't wait to see what next year holds! Posting will probably be light for the next few weeks as I travel and check things off the massive list, but I'll post when I can and hopefully posting will resume soon!

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