A good teacher introduces students to the many complexities and intricacies of the world, and opens their minds to the possibilities of the future. Through a good education, students are able to develop their abilities to think, analyze, and collaborate. All teachers are tasked with creating a classroom that develops students into active, moral individuals and positive agents of change. As a future social studies teacher, I want to prepare students for this bright and unwritten future by equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to construct understanding about the world, and go forth as critical, passionate thinkers. In my classroom, I will challenge my students to forge connections between what they learn in the classroom and how society operates today, and prepare them to enter the world as intellectual, analytic individuals striving for understanding and collaboration.

Social studies, in particular, fosters this development of critical thinking and analysis that truly develops students’ minds and intellectual abilities. Social studies revolves around the interaction between society and the individual, which can be studied and understood through the various different lenses of history, geography, economics, and political science. Through social studies, we are able to identify common themes, values, and patterns that shape and define our world. As a future social studies teacher, it is my goal to further my students’ development as responsible, active individuals through the study of these common themes, values, and patterns, as well as the customs and histories of different cultures and peoples. In our increasingly globalized world, it is essential that students understand the importance of multiple perspectives. I want my students to understand that there is not simply one view of history, or approach to government, but rather a multitude of different viewpoints and beliefs that should be studied, understood, and valued. In my social studies classroom, I want my students to question the world around them, and to grapple with the issues and controversies of the present and the past. This past semester, in my teaching practicum, I taught a concept formation lesson about discrimination to my seventh grade US History II students. In this lesson, I challenged students to think about how discrimination affects each individual and society as a whole. Students engaged in a vibrant discussion about the concept, and were eager to make connections to the world they live in today. By creating a classroom that encourages thoughtful discussion and informed deliberation, I hope to cultivate a desire for understanding and a passion for positive change and action within my students. As individuals living in a democratic society, it is important students are introduced to a community where discussion and deliberation is welcome and expected. In my classroom, I want to teach students understanding of democratic concepts and ethical values, but I also want to equip students with the skills needed to defend and perpetuate these concepts and values as they enter the world.

Students first must have a foundation of social studies knowledge – be it history, economics, or geography – in order to build an eventual attitude of understanding and collaboration. I will teach my students the knowledge that comprises this foundation, so that they can then delve deeper into social studies content through critical thinking and analysis. For example, my students will learn the detailed history of our nation’s founding, but they will then further examine the motivations and convictions of our Founding Fathers, and how values such as freedom and equality have since defined and shaped American history. Furthermore, my students will analyze and discuss historical and social events of the past, and deliberate on the possibilities for the future. Additionally, this ideal of critical thinking extends beyond simply American history, or social studies – it is important to approach all subjects and courses with the same level of curiosity, openness, and debate.

I want to encourage my students to be and do many things. I want to introduce them to multiple, diverse perspectives beyond their textbook. I want them to find a cause that stirs feelings of passion and inspiration. I want them to love learning about the world as much as I do. Most of all, however, I want my students to think. My classroom will be a place where students can think aloud, and are encouraged to do so. Many critics of America’s public education system disparagingly point to the supposedly mechanic, formulaic method of teaching that is aimed at ensuring a high pass rate for standardized tests. I want my students to learn and fully grasp the important standards put forth by the curriculum, but I also want my students to think outside penciling in a box – or bubble, for that matter. My classroom will be a gateway for students’ engagement and entry into the world as passionate thinkers and transformative individuals.