STANDARD VII – ENGAGEMENT WITH SUBJECT MATTER
The student teacher demonstrates mastery of the skills and knowledge central to the discipline. Interest in, and energy for, his/her discipline are demonstrated through the creation of lessons which present diverse students with challenging activities and projects, engage them, and encourage them to solve problems, raise questions, and interact in ways that contribute to a positive learning environment while developing skills as critical, inquiring thinkers.
Teacher Education Handbook, Secondary Education 2011-2012
I believe I am meeting Brown University Practice-Based Standard Seven: Engagement with Subject Matter.
I am passionate about teaching history, and I never felt reserved to share my love of the subject with my students. In fact, it was sometimes difficult to curb my enthusiasm: whenever good questions were asked about historical causes and effects, I was so happy to partake in students' inquiries that I occasionally became tangential. I learned to follow the framework of essential questions to guide my practice.
I tried to use various teaching methods to supplement teaching textual materials with other modes of learning. I have a large collection of printed historical sources, which I feel comfortable using while teaching world history, European history, and western civilizations, but my supply of video and audio materials is very limited. In the past, I doubted the value of movies in a history classroom: I thought they somewhat diluted critical thinking because they presented a straight-forward image to students who interpret images with more skill than text. After I began my studies at Brown, I realized the benefits of using videos to supplement and enhance student learning, especially while working with students who struggle with the linear, textual mode of learning. I also discovered that some documentaries present in a concise manner a three-dimensional look at historical characters, which is difficult to find in a compact text.
Overall, I was comfortable with the content of Contemporary World Issues. However, I do not feel the same degree of confidence in teaching U.S. History, if I were to teach such a class. Knowing my weakness, I decided to begin working on expanding my knowledge base before the start of the academic semester. In the last half of my student-teaching, I tried to attend as many classes of A.P. U.S. history as I could: I asked my teaching colleague if I could sit in, and he graciously allowed me to join his class. I learned a lot, and although I feel prepared to tell the full story of "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," I do not feel ready to teach U.S. History at a secondary school level. I am signed up for four U.S. history classes next semester, and I plan to gain competence in this content area.
These are my teaching and learning plans before I begin my academic semester:
- I plan to continue guiding my love of history with essential questions to avoid unproductive tangents.
- I plan to expand my video library to begin a collection of historical documentaries. The Fatal Attraction of Adolf Hitler is the first item on my list.
- I plan to expand my knowledge of U.S. history as I take classes next semester. There is a lot I would like to learn, and although I may never become as proficient in the subject as my American colleagues, who have studied it since elementary school, I plan to gain enough competence to engage, challenge, and enhance students' learning.