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May 2019

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NCSS is partnering with the National Council for Geographic Education and the Texas Council for the Social Studies to create an expansive professional learning experience for social studies, social science, and geographic educators and stakeholders.


Make plans now to join us in Austin at the 99th NCSS Annual Conference, November 22-24, 2019.

National Council for the Social Studes

Friday, Nov. 22nd, 6am

Austin, TX

99th NCSS Annual Conference

November 22-24, 2019

Austin Convention Center

500 E. Cesar Chavez Street

Austin, TX 78701

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What Summer Vacation?

We have all heard how teachers get 3 months off during the summer and we all know that is just not true. Summer may include some recharge time, family time, and time for binge watching those shows we missed throughout the school year, but for most teachers it also includes time for learning.

Whether it is picking up that book we wanted to read to deepen our content knowledge, taking a trip to an historical or exotic location or going to workshops most teachers do not stop learning. We all want to hone our craft and become the best teachers we can because that is what our students deserve.

One of the goals of TCSS is to help support you in that continuous improvement. We want to become a place where you will go, not only for our great sessions at our conference, but for other learning opportunities as well. Keep an eye out as we begin to transform TCSS and begin to offer many more opportunities for learning.

"We want to become a place where you will go, not only for our great sessions at our conference, but for other learning opportunities as well. "

There is still time if you have not yet found a workshop you want to attend and many of these have low costs or are free. If your district does not have workshops look for local happenings at nearby museums and Region Service Centers. You might take a look at some of the following and see if there are offerings nearby as well.
Here's to happy learning and a summer that recharges your batteries!


Resources for the Summer

Totally Texas and other workshops at the Bob Bullock: https://www.thestoryoftexas.com/education/programs
Learning at The Alamo: https://www.thealamo.org/remember/education/workshops/index.html
Humanities Texas: https://www.humanitiestexas.org/education/teacher-institutes/upcoming-institutes
Texas LRE: https://texaslre.org/professional-development/
Texas Alliance for Geographic Education: https://www.geo.txstate.edu/tage/

3 Rs for Summertime: Reflection, Renewal, Refreshment

My mom, who taught elementary school for more than 30 years, asked me one time why I started teaching even though I had seen her deal with the realities and challenges of the profession. My initial response went something like, “Because it is the only profession where I can put on shades, roll down the windows, crank up the tunes, and peel out of the parking lot for summer vacation”. Early in my teaching career, I lived for the ideals of summer vacation-- sleeping late, chilling in PJs all day, relaxing as waves tickle toes, reading under shade trees, and making memories with friends and family. But after a few days of still waking up at 6 am even though there was no alarm or realizing that last 8 hours were spent binging on a show I did not really like; I found myself seeking ways to use summertime to grow personally and professionally.


The school year always seemed to move at warp speed. I frequently found myself managing tasks just to get through the next day. Time for reflection and revision was not high on the priority list, especially as end of the year chores piled up. While summer was a change of pace and created time to rest physically and mentally; I realized that summer could also be a time to reflect on the previous school year, renew my instructional space, and refresh my practices. If this speaks to you, here are a few resources to support your summer reflection, renewal, and refreshing.

"My mom, who taught elementary school for more than 30 years, asked me one time why I started teaching even though I had seen her deal with the realities and challenges of the profession."

Reflection

  • Which learning experiences stand out to you from the previous year? Do they stand out because they had a positive impact on learners or because the results fell short of expectations? Is there a pattern among those that produced the most learning gains? Do you see a lot of the same thing, over and over again? What changes would help you design more satisfying learning experiences for your students?

  • What evidence have you collected to provide you with feedback? Is all your data in grade form or did you provide students with other opportunities to express what worked, or did not work for them? Are you collecting feedback from all learners or just those who will speak up? What forms of feedback were available for your students?

Renewal

  • Taking a page out of Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, consider which resources in your classroom bring you joy, and which might be better on someone else’s shelf, wall or desk. What resources have not been used by you or your students in ages? Which ones are no longer aligned to the content you are teaching? Which ones were hand me downs that never really fit with your teaching style? Pick one category or type of resource to work through at a time. Start with a group in which you have the least emotional attachment to then move on to categories which have more emotional connections. As a bibliophile, my last category would be books.

  • Is your classroom a space which invites collaboration and learning or are there parts which feel overwhelming and chaotic? Which parts make you feel tense, anxious, or exhausted? Which parts make you feel calm, happy, or proud? Does furniture need to be moved to improve traffic patterns? Are there spaces designed to support small groups or stations? Is there opportunity for learners to drift into learning as they scan walls?

Refresh

  • How do you apply the art and science of teaching? What factors meet the needs of your students best? Why did these factors work? How can you add more of these elements throughout the year? What is one thing you know you can do better next year? What can you do to make this item better? What resources will help you improve this skill or practice?

  • On the road this summer? Consider listening to new podcasts for refreshing instructional ideas and approaches. Wondering where to start, check out On Being hosted by Krista Tippett, Freakonomics which discusses what you only thought you knew, explore the invisible forces that shape human behavior with Invisibilia, or Sharon Salzberg’s Metta Hour to help find a place of calm.

  • Use slow, lazy summer days to add members to your professional community. Are @TXCSS or @NCSSNetwork part of your twitter feed? What education innovators might spark your creativity if you followed them? Try joining an online chat like #sschat or #edchat. Search some of the topics you are interested in learning more about and discover new YouTube channels. Network face to face by checking the local paper or public library calendar for local gatherings of authors, preservationists or historians.


Today, if my mom were alive to raise the same question regarding why I went into teaching, my answer would be a bit deeper and include elements of the art and science of teaching that I continue to develop through summertime reflection and refinement. Here’s to hoping your “summertime is always the best of what might be.”

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Sources:

Aguilar, Elena; Podcasts That Expand Our Hearts and Minds; Edutopia.org; March 2019.

Bowden, Charles; as quoted by Town&Country

Dobbs, Meredith; Four Simple, yet Effective, Reflection Questions for the End of the School Year; Bespokeclassroom.com blog; June 2017.

Gonzalez, Jennifer; The Gut-Level Teacher Reflection; Cult of Pedagogy.com blog; June 2014.

https://youtu.be/PMAQKa0fcpU

TCSS Stalwart Grant - Deadline is June 1

https://youtu.be/p0RpuclS7BU
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With its inaugural edition in October, La Estrella introduced a segment featuring classrooms across Texas. The response to this call to action was an overwhelming success. We are pleased to share with you the names of all teachers that contributed to this feature of Texas teachers. All photos from this segment are available at txcss.net/classrooms. Thank you!


February 2019 - Featured Teachers

● Leslie Barstow - Austin ● Danielle Caples - Friendswood ● Teckla Coven - Pasadena ● Harold Flynn - Deer Park ● Amanda Killough - Flower Mound ● Michelle Lux - Leander ● Ashton Moff - Corpus Christi ● Heather Solis - Austin ● Karen Rhodes - Caldwell

November 2018 - Featured Teachers:

● Abby Rosenthal - Grand Prairie ● Emily Dragoo - Richardson ● Rebecca Kidder - Belton ● Stephanie Sanders - Flower Mound ● Jordan Hinkle - Colleyville ● Anna Braudrick - Denton ● Nora Dearing - Bay City ● Susan Locklear - Pasadena ● Rebecca Richard - Forney ● Frances Rivera - Prosper ● Kristee Allen - Crowley ● Alyssa Jones - Manor ● Bethany Trevino - San Benito ● Elizabeth Howson - Belton ● Danielle Conner - Belton ● Kyle Cobern - Euless ● Trasa Cobern - Euless ● Bettie Saccardo - Covington

#NCSS #NCGE #TXCSS 2019 Conference Planning in Austin, TX

Teacher leaders gathered for a planning session in Austin, Texas to further preparations for #NCSS19. This year NCSS is partnering with the National Council for Geographic Education and the Texas Council for the Social Studies to create an expansive professional learning experience for social studies, social science, and geographic educators and stakeholders. Thanks to all of the individuals involved in the planning of this event. View more photos of the planning session at txcss.net.

Resources and Updates

La Estrella de Tejas

La Estrella de Tejas (The Star of Texas) is the official e-newsletter of the Texas Council for the Social Studies. To ensure La Estrella is delivered to your mailbox, add laestrella@txcss.net to your contact list.
La Estrella is published four times a year to provide our community with timely information and opportunities related to social studies education in Texas. The contents of La Estrella are not copyrighted unless indicated. It is appropriate, however, to credit sources as well as La Estrella when reproducing items from this e-newsletter. Reproduction for profit is prohibited.