Learning More About What You Teach and Who You are Teaching

As a National Board Certified teacher, I am constantly reflecting on the Five Core Propositions, especially the second: Teachers Know the Subjects They Teach and How To Teach Those Subjects.

As we moved through the last 3 months, this has been a focal point for me. If you are not aware, I do not have a history degree. I took it as a focus in my Master’s program, but never really thought too much about it. It wasn’t until 2008 that I really dug in and I have been lucky to have been invited to so many professional development programs to help me really strengthen my knowledge of history and political science.

I loved it so much that it’s my current job, providing professional development and programs to teachers around the country.

This takes me to where I am today. This is not the first protest regarding race, nor will it be the last. I am still learning. Yesterday, I watched the Stonewall Uprising on PBS

The biggest thing for me is to continue to learn, not have all the answers, and be able to participate in the dialogue that moves understanding forward. My job isn’t to know everything, but to be able to facilitate learning in a classroom or adult learning setting.

Many teachers usually spend their summers in professional development, and this summer that space looks different.

My call to action for all teachers is to really take stock of what you know, what you want to know more about, and what you are lacking. For me, I am spending a lot of time with documentaries, books, podcasts, and webinars.

Resources for newer teachers

  • The National Constitution Center- between their podcasts, webinars, and Interactive Constitution, you really cannot go wrong. Plus, they endorse the AP Government curriculum.
  • The Bill of Rights Institute: the online curriculum pieces are super helpful, especially in an online or partly online setting. They also have a YouTube page, which is super helpful. I am a personal fan of the Homework Help videos with the required cases for AP Gov. {Full disclosure: I now work for the Bill of Rights Insitute and sure hope to see some of you at our programs!}

If you are early on in your AP Government teaching, these two are a good starting place. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking you need to do it all.

Resources for teachers who want to learn more- this is not an exhaustive list, but I have watched, listened to, or read the following (taking in part from my project ideas after the AP test post)

African American Civil Rights: Listen to NPR Throughline on Mass Incarceration. Watch 13th on Netflix, Slavery By Another Name (PBS)(Episode 1),   *For me, I wanted to understand more of the history of discrimination after the 13th amendment was passed to be able to connect to the movements in the 50s and 60s because I wanted to know more about that. I also do not like to watch Hollywood movies to strengthen my content knowledge. I’ll watch them for entertainment, but it’s important to ME to learn all I can from other sources. I have also been listening to “Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibrahm X. Zendi, and I highly recommend it.

Women’s Rights: Watch RBG, and the American Experience The Vote.  Listen to the podcasts: Hindsight.  The History Chicks Podcast has some great ones too~

LGBTQ+ Rights: Timeline; History of Gay Rights, The Stonewall Uprising , The Lavendar Scare

Differently Abled Rights: Crip Camp on Netflix, ADA Legacy Project, ADA Podcast

Asian American Rights: Fred Korematsu podcast, Of Civil Rights and Wrongs (start video at 11 minutes) PBS Asian Americans

Latinx Rights: Latino Civil Rights Timeline; Latino Americans Series

I need to do better on Native American rights and will move into that soon. I am most interested in learning about the Native American occupation of Alcatraz and the American Indian Movement.

After attending a conference, I received a valuable start here as well as understanding that the land I am on is not mine, and I must honor the tribes that it belongs to.

I’m sure you are looking a this and wondering where it will fit in the curriculum that is already, for some, fit into too short of time. That’s easy, creating extra learning opportunities for students to take their studies further. Missed an assignment? Do an extra learning opportunity to make it up. This creates some work in the forefront for teachers, but once they are done and easily accessible, it creates opportunities to learn content outside the curriculum, but still under the AP Government objectives. Maybe that’s another post.


A big thing I’ve learned. Try on new concepts. Learn a new thing, try that new thing, get feedback, adjust, make mistakes, and keep going. Learning is lifelong . You never arrive.



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