Some teachers swear that the best way to establish their authority is to avoid smiling for the first two weeks of class.Story B:
David Hall takes a very different approach with his students at North Penn High School by cracking self-deprecating jokes and pretending to be the dude who thinks he is hip but so is not.
In the classroom, Hall brings social studies alive, bypassing textbooks in favor of original sources and creating his own lesson materials. Inside and outside the classroom, he spends time getting to know students, hoping to connect with them and inspire them.
Now in his 13th year of teaching, Hall, 37, recently received a "Teacher as Hero" award from the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the latest in a long string of teaching laurels. The Liberty Museum cited Hall's field trips to courtrooms and prisons in Philadelphia and his work as an adviser for the school Gay-Straight Alliance. During summer vacations, Hall does corporate training on workplace diversity issues.
Lauren Ewaniuk, 28, who graduated from North Penn in 2001, called Hall her "all-time favorite teacher by far."
"The best thing about his class was we didn't use the textbook very often," said Ewaniuk, now a teacher in Cheltenham. "He taught us in different ways. The classroom was set up as a circle - it was all class discussion. We read court cases, we did interactive things, watched videos - it was very engaging."
Some teachers swear that the best way to engage with students is to crack jokes and relate to them as peers.
David Hill takes a very different approach with his students at South Penn High School. He spends most of his time standing in front of the class and rarely goes off topic
Hill brings social studies alive by ensuring that students can make sense of it. His approach bucks what has become a common trend among award-winning teachers: creating lessons from scratch out of original source materials. Noting that students often find such materials confusing or overwhelming because they lack the necessary background knowledge, Hill makes teaching this knowledge his number one priority.
"My job is to get them ready for the kinds of serious, primary source research that occurs in college and graduate level courses," Hill explains.
Now in his 13th year of teaching, Hill, 37, recently received a "Teacher as Teacher" award from the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the latest in a long string of teaching laurels. The Liberty Museum cited the well-informed essays that Hill's students wrote about the history of prison reform in Philadelphia and Hill's own original research on Gay-Straight relations in Philadelphia high schools. During summer vacations, Hill seeks out the most informative, interesting history texts and conducts workshops for teachers in what he calls "Textbook Resuscitation."
Evelyn Lemaniuk, 28, who graduated from South Penn in 2001, called Hill her "all-time favorite teacher by far."
"The best thing about his class was how he renewed my interest in reading history," said Lemaniuk, now a teacher in Cheltenberg. "Most of the approved textbooks are incredibly low-level and boring, and so the better teachers tend not to use them. The problem is that, without a textbook, we're really at a loss when it comes to understanding primary source materials and how they fit into the bigger picture."
(Cross-posted at Out In Left Field)