Hola! So I'm a new teacher of social studies, going on year 3. Due to some... whatever they want to call it, let's go with "complicated zoning stuff", I was transferred to a new campus in the district this year. This is mostly because they keep saying I'm "flexible". I'm thinking it's more because others around me are "inflexible", but I digress... Point is, I've been teaching only history for the past few years. I was in history classes for my masters program, history classes for my first year, and history classes last year. Now they suddenly have me teaching a string of freshman level World Geography classes and it's feeling a bit overwhelming. I get history. It makes sense to me. I'm an INTJ, and the neat chronology of history and its myriad of interlacing webs mimics the way I think. Geography just feels ALL OVER THE PLACE. While planning out lessons I've been looking carefully at the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills to know what I need to be getting out to the students, but the stuff is really just everywhere and lacks any kind of organization in my mind. For example: We're supposed to cover the concept of "Region" during the first unit of Physical Geography. However, Region is also covered in the second unit of Human Geography and is at least covered in part in EVERY unit throughout the year. I don't know what they want me to do! I read the TEKS but in the end I just end up saying "Well, I guess this makes sense to talk about for now. Sort of." It just feels so disjointed, no neat line of chronology to follow. I feel like I have someone with Alzheimers standing in front of me yelling "OK now do this! Oh wait, I forgot this! But before you do that... wait no not yet, do THIS instead!" I understand geography, I know the material backwards and forwards, I just have no idea what the state wants me to do at any given, specific period of time. Ugh... how do I deal with this? Then there's the paranoia! There's a new standardized test coming soon, the STAAR, which promises "rigor" (a word they really enjoy using twenty billion times every other sentence). Now I'm sitting around for hours every night freaking worrying over the possibility that I have missed or skipped some key bit of information that the STAAR is going to crucify my students over because I happened to not interpret the bloody TEKS in the right exact way. Example: Students will understand the ways in which humans have learned to adapt to their environment. Sounds easy enough right? Earthquake-proofing buildings, using insulation in houses, wearing certain types of clothing. All these things and tons more meet this TEK. What is an example question from the STAAR test? Behold: "How have countries like Israel benefited from desalinization?" Specific, anyone? Don't even get me started on the fact that this is for a PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY test, which apparently is also now testing students on the specific effects of Israeli desalinization. Do these people understand that 9th graders will be taking this test? Most of the adults I know don't know that term, let alone how it effects bloody Israel... Sorry, I find I'm becoming frustrated just thinking about this.