I am a 30 year veteran of teaching jr. high students and hardly have a mark on me (as long as wrinkles don't count). All of those years were spent teaching 8th graders.....sometimes 7th as well. I loved my 8th graders (I know, it's a mental thing) and teaching. I happy to brag that Dr. Kavorkian was only on Speed Dial two of those thirty years. ;0) I'm looking forward to posting some fun free projects as well as many of my history projects.........most of the projects can be easily tweeked for other course subjects. The most important attitude an educator can have when entering the classroom is a positive one; ENJOY (or look like you enjoy) what you do and that model will be replicated by those students to whom you have been entrusted. My only regrets in teaching were that I didn't keep a daily journal, take a picture of each year's students and lable those pictures w/their names.
I walked into the classroom at age 20 and a wise teacher showed me an article that she kept laminated at her desk. Students will remember 10% of your lecture but they'll always remember the plays or times they had to get up in front of a class and present something. As Seinfeld reminded us: the two things humans are most scared of are death and public speaking. I don't agree with him that it's better to be in the casket than delivering the eulogy though! I think it is our responsibility as teachers to expand the comfort zone of our students but to do so in a fun and gentle way. Hence my educational strategy of teaching through Projects was born. Much to the chagrin of my students. Each six weeks students were required to make a presentation that represented 1/4 to 1/5 of their grade.. We enjoyed role-playing, skits, raps, dances, self-made movies, debates, mock "cocktail parties", school-yard rallies and much much more. My history classes even put Santa Anna on trial in a real courtroom with a real judge presiding. Each class day started w/what I call (and will post) "Brain Joggers"......puzzles often times created by the students. Curriculum was presented in competitive cooperative learning groups. In case you aren't aware, jr. high kids would sell their grandmother down the river for a small prize.
My love of teaching earned awards at the local, county and state levels including Outstanding Teacher mulitiple years by my peers but most endearing to me was that selection being made by the students of the school . In addtion to the Superintendent's Extra Mile Award, I was on the team that won the Governor's Excellence Award (which included $$$!!). My projects also earned me Central Texas Teacher of the Year Award (unfortunately, I came in 2nd in the great state of Texas as selected by the Daughters of the Texas Revolution. ) For 27 of the my 30 years in teaching I was the Teachers' Representative to our school board and advisor to the Superintendent of Schools during the Career Ladder years in the state.
My degrees are in history and English but I have enough extra college hours to earn a couple more. Just finished certification in Nutrition from Vanderbilt. I feel nutrition is the new battlefield in education. Students have a harder time learning concepts if they are under or malnourished. I'm also proud to have been selected from teachers across the nation to attend George Mason University and design First Amendment curriculum. That was a great honor and experience (and a place where I was able to hone my table tennis skills).
For you young new teachers starting out, I know how hard it can be. My first year I had to teach out of 12 different books and design activities/tests on 3 different levels. In addtion, the principal had me "teaching" a MUSIC class for which I had absolutely NO training, skill, or knowledge. [ For all you ex-students out there who had me for Music, I sincerely apologize for those awful trips to the library to research musicians!} Luckily, I'm SURE that never happens anymore in education --> administrators sticking an educator in a class to teach a subject for which they are not trained.