5 Key Takeaways from The Social Studies Teacher Bootcamp
By Kirsten Hammond
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I recently hosted the Social Studies Teacher Bootcamp, a free PD training for upper elementary teachers. It was a lot of fun to put on and a great way for teachers to get excited and pumped up for the school year!
I want to share some key takeaways that I think you could utilize as well.
Takeaway 1: Putting Social Studies on the Back Burner
The first takeaway is what could happen when social studies teachers put social studies on the back burner. We know that there’s not a lot of time to teach social studies because reading and math are usually at the forefront.
We’re not really thinking that much about social studies just because of the nature of things. Some districts don’t even put it on their daily schedule!
Somehow we have to integrate it with ELA, which can be so hard to try to do yourself and as a team.
Maybe you’re trying to put in social studies concepts, but there’s no wiggle room. Even still, it’s really important that you take the time to give it some love.
When you put social studies on the back burner, this could result in a lack of awareness and appreciation for other cultures, global interdependence, and lack of awareness of one’s own history or one’s own community’s history. We want students being informed about other cultures and the world around us.
Be sure to take some time to research to make sure what you’re doing is aligned with what is in your state’s curriculum or what is allowed in your state.
Takeaway 2: Mostly Negative Feelings About Social Studies
The second takeaway had to do with the survey question that I gave to my social studies teacher audience a couple months ago. I thought it was really eye-opening and I wanted to share it with the members of the bootcamp. The question was: “If you could summarize how you felt about teaching social studies in one word, what would that word be?”
The results of my audience were pretty telling. There were some positive, and there were a lot of negative. Some of the most common positive were that it was exciting and that they love it.
The most common negative one is that it’s forgotten.
Right now social studies is not exactly fun or engaging for social studies teachers, especially the history textbooks or social studies textbooks.
I can bet that why that the general feeling is negative is because we’re not really given the tools or the time to teach social studies in general.
Takeaway 3: Schedule Ideas to Fit in Social Studies
There are some ways to fit social studies in your schedule. You can make it happen, and something that I shared was something really easy. It’s just focusing on one topic a week, not trying to fit in some whole unit about in one week.
Instead, try focusing on one or two regions per week!
Let’s say you have 90 minutes for a whole week to teach social studies, and that’s it.
Instead of trying to do one 90-minute long activity, here’s four different options! This example is on elements of a map, with 90 minutes of social studies time for each week.
Takeaway 4: Something is Better Than Nothing
This quote was really interesting:
We rarely think about change this way because everyone is consumed by the end goal, but one pushup is better than not. Exercising. One minute of guitar practice is better than none at all. One minute of reading is better than never picking up a book. It’s better to do less than you hoped than to do nothing at all.James Clear, Atomic Habits
I can think of so many things inside and outside of the classroom that relate to this quote. One minute of talking about some type of current event that’s happening, or a historical event or holiday is better than none at all.
I hope that you can take this into the next school year, is that something is better than nothing!
Takeaway 5: What Social Studies Teachers Need
Another question I asked my social studies teacher audience was: “What would be most helpful as a social studies teacher?” Here are the results!
If you’ve been following along with me for the last several months or so, or even further into that, I have been planning and making this type of thing happen, and that is part of where the Smart and Simple Social Studies Membership comes in!
My idea way back when it was in the early stages was a hub for upper elementary teachers who didn’t really have a curriculum that they liked, or they’re picking and pulling resources from different places just to get what they need.
They want a place where they can just get what they need in social studies. It’s super easy where you just type in what you need, you download it, print it off, and go.
I envisioned a one-stop shop where social studies teachers don’t have to keep paying for expensive resources every time. So that’s why I created the social studies membership. Something that I pride myself in are the type of resources I make.
You can learn more about the membership and learn how to get access to the resource library and the other special bonuses as soon as you check out and purchase!
Kirsten is a former 3rd and 5th grade teacher who loves helping upper elementary teachers by creating resources and sharing ideas that are engaging, research-based, and TEKS-aligned. She is a work-from-home mama of 3 rambunctious little ones and loves running, true crime, and lots of coffee.