I always swore I’d never be one of those teachers. You know the type – frustrated and hostile, blaming their kids, and longing for the “good ol’ days.” To be honest, I’ve often kinda looked down on that flavor of educator – wondering why they’re still in the classroom, and hoping they find somewhere else to work out their issues.
One of the minor downsides to teaching ancient history for nearly half the year is that there simply aren’t the multitude of cool documents – letters, speeches, diaries, newspaper articles, and the like – which make U.S. or European History so naturally freakin’ awesome.
Several years ago, I had a sub who went a bit above and beyond. She not only took up whatever assignment I’d left for that day – she organized the papers and completion-graded them. In other words, she noted who’d finished and seemed to have taken the work seriously. She didn’t give them a number or a letter grade, of course – that would have been bold. But she did give each paper meeting her requirements a sticker.
It’s funny how badly we want things to be all one way or all the other. For such maddeningly complicated creatures, we seem wired to crave the binary.
I’m teaching AP World History for the first time this year, and it’s been… a fascinating challenge.
Fortunately, I’ve been in and around the world of AP and Pre-AP for nearly two decades, and I’m blessed to know several amazing APWH teachers and consultants – all of whom share generously and encourage unceasingly. There’s more of a learning curve than I care to admit, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it immensely.
I spend most of my “work” hours outside the classroom reading World History textbooks these days – not to evaluate them, but to absorb enough content to effectively run my classroom.
Even if all we care about are the standards and the exams and the skills and the content, the best way to make that medicine is with motivated, supported educators well-aware of expectations but with substantial autonomy to adopt and adapt as they see fit based on the kids in front of them and the unique reality they radiate. I’m not saying there’s no role for online courses or commonly agreed upon curriculum across your departments, but setting aside the ethics of treating students as interchangeable receptacles, the vast majority of the time it simply doesn’t work.
Because they’re not.
I'm teaching AP World History this year. It’s a first for me, and at times has proved a bit of a challenge. Do you have any idea how many cultures and nations and movements and causes and changes there are in the entire history of mankind? All interacting and comparing and evolving and being complicated?! With maps and graphs and primary sources and EVERYTHING?!?!
One of my young ladies came in today all giddy and grinning. She'd just discovered she was one of a dozen or so nominees for Homecoming Queen.
Now, before you start thinking in stereotypes, this isn't the girl you just pictured - she's not blond, she's not bubbly, she's not shallow, and she's not dating a football player. She's pretty and talented and good at school, yes - but in her own most interesting way.
Do you ever start off intending to write about one thing and no matter how much you try to stay on target, you keep shooting off an entirely different direction like a blog grocery cart full of one item and with a bad wheel (*squeak lurch squeak squeak lurch*) and although you’re desperately trying to steer back to what you set out to write about, you just… can’t – at least not until you’re s