Content Knowledge

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by historyteacher09, Jan 19, 2017.

  1. historyteacher09

    historyteacher09 Rookie

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    Jan 19, 2017

    First year teacher here-

    Some days I feel like I have no clue what I am doing, is this normal? My college degree is history teaching but sometimes I just feel like I'm not doing anything right. (My kids did well on their last quiz though, so I know they are learning)
    I also am familiar with the content (early US history) I am teaching yet students ask questions I don't always know the answers too. While I'm a history major it's been at least 2 1/2 years since I took US history 1 & 2..... I ramble on to ask am I the only one??
    What do I say to students when they ask a question I do not know the answer to?
     
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  3. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2017

    As for the teaching part of teaching, you're probably doing fine. You'll fall into your groove after a few cycles of teaching the same course. That said, and I mean this in the least judgmental way possible, the classes you had in college are not good enough. You'll need to be reading and researching and watching stuff for awhile yet before you'll be able to field questions well, and even then there'll be a few new ones every semester. When you don't know, either take a "research adventure" as a class and find out or tell the student where they might find an answer, e.g. "How did people store their refrigerated foods?" "I'm not sure, but I bet the Colonial Williamsburg Museum website would be a good place to look."
     
  4. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2017

    I second what viola said! When I first started as a history teacher, I quickly found out that those college courses weren't going to cut it for me and I needed to bone up fast! The good news is, there's plenty of information out there, and you've got to go after it! YouTube documentaries, wikipedia, TV shows, books, etc. are all great places to start.
     
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  5. Bioguru

    Bioguru Companion

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    Jan 20, 2017

    I think all teachers experience this. I taught physics my first year and was literally only one chapter ahead of my students in content. Most questions they asked I had to simply state "I don't know, I'll have to look it up and get back to you;" I always made a point to do just that. I have consistently increased my knowledge each year and can pretty much predict the questions I'll be asked from year to year. There's still the occasional question I have no clue about.

    IMHO, we teachers have two responsibilities in this instance: 1) Learn more about our content every year 2) Be honest about not knowing something and diligent in looking it up. I am the UIL Science sponsor (an academic contest here in Texas) and this experience has increased my knowledge easily 10 fold; the first few years I had to look up about 80% of each test to solve them whereas now I can complete it without references. As others have said, university knowledge simply doesn't cut it.
     
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  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jan 20, 2017

    It's okay to admit to students that you don't know something. Model for them how to find out the answer.

    As you get more experienced, you'll start to anticipate their questions. Once you start to do that, it's easy to focus your additional research in those directions so that you're better prepared with answers to their questions.

    Finally, do make an effort to always learn more about your content as well as whatever comes after it, probably by at least a few grade levels.
     
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  7. MetalTeacher

    MetalTeacher Companion

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    Jan 20, 2017

    This is especially valuable. They won't always have you (or another teacher) around to ask, but if they know how to find the information they're lacking, they can use that forever.
     
  8. FrankFromFranklin

    FrankFromFranklin Rookie

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    Feb 16, 2017

    I am a first year history teacher teaching ancient world history from the emergence of homo sapiens to about 1500 ad. I was hired as a US history teacher, which is where my student teaching experience and passion is, but due to a veteran teacher wanting to take the US classes I got stuck here. I am very, very unprepared for this subject. I know bits and pieces, but it was never my main focus.

    In Virginia we teach to the SOL test. It is awful, but it does give us a strict curriculum so it tells me exactly what to teach. This is beyond helpful being a first year teacher in a relatively unfamiliar subject, but I spend hours and hours reviewing and teaching myself more about this material. My first year would have been a lot less stressful with a US class, but I am enjoying this material more and more every day
     
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  9. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Feb 16, 2017

    I would love ancient or world history! The time frame you get to cover is vast, and includes everything from health and welfare, the arts and literature, geography, maps, engineering, government, warfare, industry, how changes in the environment were felt on a basic level, superstitions/beliefs, burial practices, and religions of the world. I am a science teacher, and accessing some of these things to bring us up to current practices are some of my favorite lessons. This content excites me enough that I earned my MS certificate in SS, hoping someday I could have a job like yours!
     

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