About Sarah Denham

Sarah has been a classroom teacher for eleven years and is certified in almost every subject area. She also holds a Bachelors and Masters in Social Studies and a Specialist in Instructional Tech. She is also an ed tech guru who loves blending current technologies into her literature classroom. When she is not teaching, Sarah loves books, writing, playing with her dogs, and going on adventures with her husband. Sarah loves to hear from readers and other fellow educators so feel free to contact her at @EdTechieSarah or sarah.denham416@gmail.com.

20140409_161806On Sunday, April 13th, I attended the final session time of the Organization of American Historians Conference in Atlanta. Sunday is very quiet with many attendees heading home. I decided to attend the Educating Future History Teachers session. I wanted to see what was being done to prepare teacher candidates now compared to my program 7-9 years ago. The session featured professors and Instructors from North Carolina, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. I found it interesting to compare what was happening in these other states versus what I had experienced as a teacher candidate in a Georgia university. When I began teaching, I was prepared in several areas like my subject area content and writing lessons, but not necessarily in areas of pedagogy and fieldwork. Several K-12 teachers attending the session felt similarly.

Takeaways from the Educating Future History Teachers session (not in any order)

  • Program should allow education program students different chances for work like tutoring freshmen, etc.
  • It is important to spend time integrating primary sources into lessons and critical reading of those sources.
  • Why do we collaborate? Personal connections, respect, shared thinking.
  • Money alone cannot sustain successful partnerships.
  • There needs to be a chance to have teacher educators, teachers, and pre-service talk and engage.
  • Institutions in Michigan (except MSU and UM) have Social Studies program housed within content department.
  • Northern Arizona has students do projects that allow them to practice history so they can put it in the classroom.
  • N. Arizona focuses on Content, Pedagogy, and Practice. Learn to be historian but turn around and teach it.
  • These program ideas make me wish my own education was a little different.
  • Collaborate with English department to help your students in the Social Studies classroom.
  • Also a focus on different teaching skills. New teachers are now better prepared.
  • Teaching World History course is a lab class. Lesson plans for all of World History include goals they can use immediately.
  • New teacher will likely  face: large classes, different levels of achievement, poverty/dysfunctional homes, state tests.
  • Improved student performance? Changes at Western Carolina show improvement of training teachers for SS classroom.
  • Wanted collaboration. To address worries about teaching World History & Civics/Government, two specific classes for students.
  • Increased GPA. Increased time in the field for History/SS education students. Content specific courses.
  • Former and current students reported that they didn’t feel prepared to teach. (those surveyed at Western Carolina)
  • Mention of how some Learning Focus Schools EQ’s are not critical thinking inducing.
  • A Program must show students any possible constraints they may face as educators.

Final Thoughts on the Conference

I am very glad I got the chance to attend this conference. I am a history nut so many of the things I heard or read at the conference appealed to me. While speaking to a fellow attendee, I learned that there seems to be a push to close the gap between college/university level educators and K-12 educators by offering more relatable sessions for teachers to attend. There is obviously still work to be done since most of the sessions were content or historian/field specific sessions, but I think that, as Social Studies educators, that this kind of conference, in addition to conferences like the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference, is a great way for educators and other professionals to connect, network, and share ideas. Would I go back? Definitely, with some better planning since I lived outside of the city. It was also worth it. I made many connections, learned some interesting things, and renewed my love of history. That makes it all worthwhile.

 

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Below you can find a link to Storify (great resource to check out) of my #OAH2014 tweets to see more of what I saw and thought.

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