By Sarah Murdoch
I have been a teacher for over 15 years now and I remember when I first started teaching I was wondering what I got myself into! As a student I thought teachers had loads of time, only working until 3:00 everyday, lots of breaks, and even summers off to learn and grow. Well…what a rude awakening to realize that there are not enough hours in the day to keep up let alone be a superstar teacher!
I can easily pinpoint turning points in my teaching career that drastically shaped me as an educator. The first was a series of sessions at my school board with The Critical Thinking Consortium in particular with Usha Jame. Looking back this was definitely a TSN turning point. It reframed every lesson I taught by launching students into critical thinking and learning upfront allowing them to engage with the content throughout the lesson. It is also when I started exploring CHC through the lens of pride – Is Canada a country of which to be proud? This has shaped the big issues we explore, the sources we decode, and the discourse we have.
The second turning point was a week-long session with Peter Sexias from Historical Thinking. Not only did I begin to dig into the skills of doing history but I was able to do it with a group of amazing educators. Two of which I deeply respect and still connect with today (Katy Whitfield and Sara Faulkner). Through this process my view of history educator morphed again. It gave me the tools and language to be more explicit in my teaching.
I can easily look back and highlight all of the things I would change about how and what I taught. Hindsight is 2020, however I think the important thing is that we look back to reflect and grow. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of our turning points to ground us in what we value. I again am heading into another turning point of becoming more aware of my own privilege and ensuring that the perspectives explored in my classroom are equitable, honest, and privilege authentic voice. In closing, continue to be a lifelong learner, be brave, and don’t be afraid to look back.
Sarah Murdoch is the Secondary Consultant – Canadian & World Studies and Social Science & Humanities with the Curriculum Support Services – Secondary, DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD OF NIAGARA.