Why? Several reasons, actually.
First and foremost, by all appearances I have had the privilege of receiving a group of freshmen that are willing to engage in intellectual work and are willing to put their conceptions of a history class aside and engage in history. Those are excellent signs - I’m excited!
My students have completed five of the six weeks of my introduction to history unit. They have been introduced, on a basic level, to the critical thinking strategies and some of the technology tools that they will need to be familiar with in order to succeed in my class. It seems their conceptions of what a history class is are starting to swing away from their previous experiences - also exciting.
I’m excited that we are currently immersed in a week-long mini-unit/project that has students collaborating to create the context of a zombie apocalypse that threatens their safety, then weighing the pros and cons of escape locations. Students are engaged and are learning to collaborate more effectively in person and online. They are increasing their competency with collaborative Google tools and (excitingly) turning to each other for tech help, not me. This last one is kind of awesome, because it has happened organically in a couple of classes, without my pushing students to ask each other before they come to me with a tech problem or question.
I’m excited because initial feedback from parents at Back to School Night and in emails about the changes I am trying to make in my classroom has been positive.
But I’m most excited to start (in a week) the all-in flipped mastery democracy and revolutions unit that I’ve been scheming about for most of the summer. (Yes, I’ve also thoroughly schemed my Industrial Revolution unit.) I’m psyched to try out applying Ramsey Musallam’s Explore-Flip-Apply framework in a history class. I’m curious - and very optimistic - that time spent in the Explore phase will create some desire to know and understand our democracy and revolutions unit, and that the thinking done in the Explore phase will create some great schematic hooks for the remainder of our unit.
I’m excited to see my students really start to own their learning, and to be held accountable for mastering what they know. I’m looking forward to more intentionally and explicitly integrating current events into every unit I teach. I’m anxious to see what sort of creative products my students create this year when they are given the opportunity to show their learning in diverse ways.
It’s a good place to be in. Am I low on sleep? Yes. Will there be struggles as freshmen start to deal with autonomy in the classroom for the first time in their lives? Most certainly. But I’m excited to learn with my students, and to keep thinking about how to best challenge and engage all of my students.