year's end reflections from student and teacher

I’ll always say that teachers are the best thinkers: Was the lesson too easy? Too hard? Did I try to cover too much material in too short of a time? Reflection is a huge part of teaching and learning, and the end of year allows for a natural time to look back. I grabbed some amazing insights from students and Ms. DeSalvo herself on how things went this year.

What’s been the best part of this course? What are you most proud of?

“I can’t say I have a favorite topic…it’s all so interesting. I’m most proud of having an A in this class. People say history is hard, and it is hard to remember. [In doing well on my summative assessment] I was able to prove them wrong. [History is] …easy when you take notes and study, even if it means studying until 1a.m…..thats what I did.“~Rebecca

”[The best part was the] Civil rights movement. It was the most emotional and hardest topic to talk about, but I enjoyed it. You’re seeing images of things that they would do to people… it’s hard. The Civil War was also really amazing. My most proud moment was getting a B+…I tried so hard in this class because its very hard for me.”~Yulissa

What have you enjoyed most this year?

“Developing both of my courses in my own way….developing differentiation and investing students. I wanted them to see and feel and experience each era. I strive to have them emotionally tied to each experience.  I try to think about how to do it differently based upon each student’s unique needs. [I focus on] giving them things that they can do. There’s no worse feeling than never being successful. I always try to think of their perspective: how can I make them successful every single day [but at the same time] keep them in an area where they are challenged?”

What has been your greatest learning?

“[…] it’s hard to say only one thing. I would say patience…. also…. rolling with the punches. Sometimes lessons you design thinking they are amazing [and they] turn into a tornado. Does that mean you never try lessons like this again? No. Trying something and having it fail is scary. I’m not a pro - it doesn’t work every day perfectly - but most days, I have small victories. The biggest thing, lastly, I think when I was student teaching [in my second placement] I was not myself. I felt I had to be rigid, and I couldn’t have any emotional attachment. And here, I am very much myself. I share lots of personal details with them - it is designed that way.  For me, it’s been learning about how to keep that line in place [of teacher vs friend]. Every teacher that I had or respected was the person who told me about their life. I try to know what is going on in my students lives, not just in my room but in general. I attend games, and try to be into what is going on in their lives. Just as my life extends beyond these 4 walls, so does theirs. I think if you have that close relationship with them, you get more.”

What advice do you have for a history teacher?

“Don’t forget the story - the story of history. Sometimes it can become a timeline of facts and events - isolated small things. When you tell it like a story, it means something to them, something that’s real. ”