my hardest class is my easiest to plan for

I love planning for my IB History Year 1 class. It has my highest-level students. They have chosen to be in the class and some are true history nerds (the rest I am working on making them so). Several were in my Modern World History class last year, so we already speak the same language- they know and appreciate my teaching style. The content is challenging -the IB requires a level of detail that I find intimidating- but provocative and interesting, and there are many many sources to use to examine it. The best is that the students work hard and seem the enjoy the hard work, and my planning for it feels very organic. I simply need to figure out each week how to structure discussions to facilitate understanding of the topic at hand. Should we examine a primary source together? Should we break down analytically the events of the text? Should we compare readings and practice our historiographical skills? Should we separate into groups, find more sources in depth and then report out on our findings? I find teaching this class often to be the most energizing  and the most rewarding, despite my initial steep learning curve in the ways of the IB. I am more comfortable using a higher-level academic vocabulary; more comfortable speaking extemporaneously about the ways of ‘doing history’; more comfortable asking them to read difficult sources. I enjoy provoking and hearing the creation of meaty questions. I enjoy saying ‘I don’t know’. I try to create an atmosphere that is not about who can remember the most historical trivia, but rather that is focused on the How’s and Why’s of the history we are studying, where we observe and analyze patterns, pursue multiple perspectives,  seek clarity in arguments and weigh evidence to create theses. I think this class is a joy to teach not necessarily because I love the subject matter, but more because I like the kind of thinking we do in it.




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