After graduating from New Tech High @ Coppell in 2012, AP U.S. history teacher Joshua Chanin returned to CISD this year. With one year of teaching experience behind him as a college history professor at Texas A&M University-Commerce, this is his first year teaching in a high school setting, and hopes to help his students find a new appreciation for American history.
What is your biggest inspiration as a teacher?
I want my [students] to love American history. It is so much more complex than the eye sees, and it’s almost like a compact history of the world because we have so many different cultures and people groups here. I like to help my students develop inside and outside of the classroom so that they can develop skills that last a lifetime, whether it’s communication, public speaking or note taking.
What goals do you have as a teacher?
Number one is to survive, because high school teaching is so much more different than college. But I want my students to come out of my classroom knowing something new about American history or themselves that they didn’t know before. We just finished our big [We Are One] project of the year, and many students showed me their artistic skills that I didn’t know about, [that even] they didn’t even know about.
How would you describe your own personal teaching style and what molded it?
I graduated from New Tech in 2012, so teaching here is like coming back home. I was used to project-based learning and group work, so most of my teaching is based on students talking to each other. [It] is important for students to build confidence and bounce ideas off of one other, and that is how we get the discussion of history going.
How did your experience at New Tech impact you?
I was the first class of New Tech to go all four years, and I enjoyed it. It made me the person I am today, and it made me a very confident teacher. New Tech helped me branch out of my comfort zone, and I was forced to talk to people, which is what I do in my own classes [now]. I put my students in what are difficult spots for them, but it makes them talk to one another and engage with the material in an entertaining way.
How do you encourage engagement in your classroom?
As a teacher, you always have to have a positive attitude. It starts at the top and works its way down, but it makes my students interested in history. History is all about stories, so I like to tell my students interesting stories about presidents- the kind you won’t see in the textbook or might never have heard of before.
How do you hope to impact your students in and out of the classroom?
I want them to realize that they really are all special, no matter where they come from and what their background is. They all have unique skills and talents they bring forth to the table, and I make sure that they do. Not only are they learning from their classmates but they are learning from themselves.
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