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  Workshop 3: Public Policy & the Federal Budget  
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Workshop 3

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Teacher Perspectives: Her evolution as a teacher

Leslie Martin: When I look back to the first year that I taught, or even further back to the months that I student-taught, my only focus was having something to say to the students every single day and keeping a riot from happening. Each year, I tried new things. I was skeptical about discussions. I was skeptical about group work. I am still skeptical and nervous about group work, but each year I become more comfortable not only with the key concepts that I want the students to have but also moving from my curriculum to a moment where I can talk to the students about real issues. I am much more in control of myself. I also have an increased depth of knowledge. I know now that if I don’t cover a subject on the day that I am supposed to because something else important happens, I will get to it later on.

After probably my first year of teaching, when I was learning the material as much as the students were, I began to look for different ways to present things. You always have research papers. Those are not as interesting. They are necessary because learning to write is an important skill. But I said, “What can we do that will make it interesting and fun for the kids but still be relevant to the course work?” I think there are lots of ways to make things relevant, partly because I believe that civics and economics are all around us. I can make those connections and if I can teach the kids to make those connections, they see its relevance.

I began to look for alternative ways to lecture. I don’t really like bookwork, worksheets. They’re boring for me. They are boring for the kids. I think that I go back to that spectrum that you do have to have some structure here, some basic lecture, vocabulary, all the way to the end, which is what do you want to learn, how do you want to learn it? I’m not there yet. I am probably somewhere in the middle.


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