Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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  Workshop 2: Electoral Politics  
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Workshop 2

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Teacher Perspectives: Teaching challenges

Jose Velazquez: The biggest challenge is to play the role of facilitator. When students prepare their presentations, it’s hard for teachers to take a step back and let students work out the problems. While I will be giving suggestions, I don’t want to give the answers or my particular opinion or my bent on an issue. I think it’s important to feel comfortable with that. Not everything is going to be perfect. The answers are not always going to be solid answers. There are going to be weaknesses. There are going to be strengths in each group. The important thing is for students to take responsibility for their own learning rather than feeding everything to them.

The realities of an urban high school require an incredible amount of flexibility and improvisation to deal with things that you may not have been aware of but that impact on your class. For example, we are having exams this week for the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth graders and delayed opening. Schedule changes have meant I was not able to see the students the last two days.

Another issue is the fact that they are seniors. I’ve taught seniors for many years and I know around this time of year they are thinking about the prom, they are thinking about their senior class trip, everything else except school. You have to motivate them.

I think another challenging issue is to be able to control the passion that this election has engendered among our students. We’ve had some great debates but it sometimes gets heated. I’m okay with that because I think that’s the reality of participation in civics and elections. So when you see students involved at that level, it’s not a negative thing, it’s a positive thing. But at certain times it’s a challenge.


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