Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Making Civics Real Workshop 2: Electoral Politics  
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Workshop 2

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Teacher Perspectives
Student Perspectives
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Student Perspectives: Jose Valzquez's teaching style

Tremayne: Mr. Velazquez has a very unique teaching style. He’s energetic. He might come into class and start yelling, and you say, “Mr. Velazquez, what is going on?” and he says, “We’re at war. We’re at war. The Nazis have just invaded. We’re at war.” So that’s how he begins the lesson to get you interested in a subject you may not want to learn about. He’s very active, he takes us on trips, and we do mock trials. He puts us in competitions. He involves us in [a lot of different experiences] outside of school that make it worth learning. He tries to split us up in categories based on what our interests are. Like for this project, we dealt with education needs, recreation needs, housing, and roads. He asks you what areas you feel more strongly about. That way you will have motivation and you will want to do the work. If you want to switch later, he’ll switch you. He doesn’t tend to force you to do work because he knows that a student that is forced to do work usually doesn’t do that well.

The Law in Action class is quite demanding because as he always says, “To be a lawyer, you have to read well and write well.” And that’s not just as a group. You have to be an independent reader, so there are times where he will give us a case and we have to go home, study the case, come back and [talk about] the case. Or he might say I want you to read this trial and this trial and bring back some case law that you might be able [to defend] one side or another side with. It’s a mix of individual work, group work, and going outside doing research.

Kerron: Mr. Velazquez is a great teacher. Unlike other teachers I’ve had, he is more involved with the children. He hears and he cares more. He wants to hear what we feel is important; he doesn’t want to just teach a lesson plan. He diversifies his lessons, and makes sure that everybody has their own views and everybody voices their opinion. Mr. Velazquez makes sure that you learn and become involved in whatever subject is being taught. Mr.Velazquez is more of a hands-on teacher. He gets everybody involved. Other teachers may just teach a lesson by the rules so to speak and just make sure their job is done, but I feel when a teacher chooses that route, the child doesn’t really know or learn what they have been taught that day. Mr. Velazquez makes sure that everything he teaches is embedded in one’s head and [that students] are able to understand and comprehend the subject.

Maysa: Mr. Velazquez, he’s into his work. I think that he’s enthused about his job. Like they say, don’t go after a job just because of the pay. I think that’s Mr. Velazquez. He doesn’t care about how much he makes. He’s affecting students’ lives and he’s also pleasing himself. Mr. Velazquez is a very animated person. Teachers need energy and Mr. Velazquez is energy. He doesn’t like when you don’t pay attention to him. Some students just don’t have that interest in what he is talking about. But some way, shape, or fashion, he’ll get your attention. He’ll run in the class or he’ll start shouting or do some kind of banging on your desk to grab your attention. What some students don’t like about Mr. Velazquez is that he does not give up. He will not stop. That’s a good thing personally to me, because that’s how teachers are supposed to be. They are supposed to keep you interested and still get on your nerves. All teachers get on your nerves in a way but I think it’s very positive.

Samuel: I like the way he goes about teaching. He makes us interact more with the work. We don’t just read, we have to know what we read. Anything could be a test. Like the articles we read. We had to read six articles and do an essay and it was all counted as a test. We got a questionnaire and an essay-format question as well. It all comes at you. You can relax, but you can’t relax in the sense that you think you are going to just get by.

Marissa: I’ve gone home and spoken to my parents and uncles about his teaching styles. He makes you want to learn. He loves what he does and you can see that he loves what he does and [it] makes me want to love it even more. One thing that I noticed about him is his energy as a teacher. It pushes me to learn more about history and more about politics. He adds personal experiences. For example, he was like a rebel in school. That’s one thing I remember because I was so intrigued. Wow--you a rebel! He tells us how he was and puts it into a way that we can understand but also in an adult type of manner.

Ebony: Mr. Velazquez has been one of my favorite teachers since he’s been here. The thing about the way he teaches is that he doesn’t talk at you. He actually talks to you. And he doesn’t teach like you are some little kid, he makes you feel like you’re having a conversation, that you are on the same level. We’ve never done anything in here that wasn’t realistic. So you feel you want to learn more because that’s what’s going on in the world right now. He [is] so creative. If we are going to learn, we are going to do it to learn it. Everything is first-hand information. We don’t have to get it out of a book.

Maysa: Some teachers are unsure of what they are trying to tell you or what they are trying to get you to do. He’ll give you a piece of paper that explains bullet for bullet what he wants you to do and how he wants it done. Some teachers will tell you well, you guys are going to have a test and you don’t know what you are going to have a test on or they’ll have you study for one thing in class and the next day you are having a test on something that’s probably in next week’s lesson. But Mr. Velazquez is organized. It’s his organization that grabs everyone.

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