Professional Learning To Make You An Excellent History Teacher


The difference between a good history teacher and an excellent history teacher often has to do with the amount of support each gets. An excellent teacher, like with any profession, will search out resources so they can improve upon their craft. In this post I’ll write about top learning opportunities that can make you go from good to excellent. And I do this with the hope that you realize that there is nothing magical about excellent teaching, rather much of it lies in the strategy.

(1) Facing History And Ourselves

I was searching for the most tried and true strategies for teaching critical thinking in a history classroom, and I discovered the Resource Library for the organization Facing History And Ourselves. Do you want strategies for teaching with images? Help with teaching students how to paraphrase? Do you need to know how to conduct a discussion with a fishbowl? These strategies and dozens more are indexed in a search bank that allows you to favorite and add to your playlist your favorite strategies.

(2) National Geographic Educator Programs

The National Geographic Society offers in person and online opportunities for professional learning and networking. All programs are interdisciplinary and offer a framework to solve real problems facing the world today. Online professional development opportunities guide you to teach students an inquiry process and how to connect with their local communities. If you are ready to share what you do in your classroom, and support other educators, there is an online network, and opportunities for teachers to meet in person.

(3) National Archives Professional Development

Go straight to the source of one of the largest sources of primary documents for U.S. history in order to know how to use these free resources in your classroom. There are regular webinars on how to teach using the National Archives documents. They have a special series on how to teach Native American history. The National Archives also indexes their past webinars on Youtube.

(4) The Choices Program Learning Opportunities

The Choices program, (which I introduced in my last blog post) offers a myriad of learning opportunities for teachers around the country and online. Online they maintain an ongoing list of resources to teach current issues, called Teaching With The News. There are also professional development workshops around the country at colleges and universities. These workshops surround around the myriad of ways to implement the Choices curriculum.

(5) International Baccalaureate Professional Development

Are you at an IB school, or do you wish to be? The IB Organization offers online and in-person professional development opportunities to teach a curriculum that is internationally geared to prepare students for an increasingly connected and complex world. Check out this link to see what opportunity is right for you.

(6) Travel Learning Opportunities

Learning how other countries operate is an invaluable and sometimes life changing experience. Taking your professional learning to another country may be possible through travel grants and any time off you have during the year or the summer. The UC Berkeley Office of Resources for International and Area Studies offers a list of international travel programs for educators.

(7) Your Own Local Community

Much of my own research and professional interest has been marveling at how interconnected we can be with online groups and social media. In the past I’ve blogged about how to use Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter for professional learning. But remember that some of the best resources are in your own school and your own local community. Reach out to your colleagues and develop supportive relationships. I may be able to count on one hand the teacher-leaders that I’ve worked with closely. But they were all so remarkable that if I needed more than five fingers to count the colleagues that turned my profession around, I don’t think I’d be able to contain myself.

*A final note:

You may be a beginning teacher looking for support or a seasoned professional looking for some fresh input. Whomever you are, remember that there is support out there in order to make history education more engaging for our students. Again, remember that there is nothing magical about excellent teaching, but so much of it is contingent on the strategies used.

cultureBryn Hafemeister2, a