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This is Day 9 of the @teachthought 30-day blogging challenge.

Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care). Being a first-year teacher in my nineteenth year of teaching.

Last year I began my nineteenth year of teaching but my first time in sixteen years teaching Eighth Grade Social Studies. Even though I taught the class before, I knew I couldn’t teach it using the 1995 method. I knew I couldn’t just open up the textbook, read it, have students fill out worksheets and then take a chapter test. I knew I didn’t want my students to believe knowing names and dates meant they knew history. I wanted them to understand how it’s about perspectives, argument, interpretation, and so much more. I wanted them to realize history matters today.

Was it perfect? Of course not, but it certainly was better than I even expected. As I planned, I gained a better understanding too, which resulted in me wanting to bring in just a little more information.  This was dangerous though. On Sundays I’d sit at the dining room table, surrounded by documents, exploring the web to a point of no return (really there were times I couldn’t remember my reason for searching) and then the tears of frustration. The realization that after hours on a Sunday, it was now 9 pm, and I still wasn’t sure what my lesson would be the next morning, let alone the entire week.   The idea of teaching history as a timeline didn’t make sense to me anymore. I was constantly spiraling back and forth. I thought how teaching writing is messy, but thankful of my experience as a writing teacher. I was okay with the messiness, the non-linear approach, the “let’s think like a historian” mindset.

Reflecting on last school year, I’m thankful for the experience. It reminded me of what it’s like to be a first year teacher and the feeling of accomplishment after that first year is stored away (on Google docs and iCal so I don’t have to be a first-year teacher again this year).

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