Role-playing gets students involved in history

Teacher Feature
By: Bridget Jones, Telegraph Correspondent
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Teacher Feature Mary Bears Sixth-grade history, language arts and PC Pal Coordinator Rolling Hills Middle School, El Dorado Hills --- Q: How long have you been a teacher and why did you want to get into the education field? A: I have been a teacher for 14 years and I got into education because I was excited about the opportunity to be a part of shaping young lives and helping them to realize that they can impact the world in a big way starting now.  To help the students realize this, I started a community service project with my classes 10 years ago and currently it is a requirement for all sixth graders at Rolling Hills.  The kids learn, through serving others in need in the community, that they can make a positive difference in the lives of others. I get very excited being around the kids and their tremendous energy and motivation to make changes in this world! Q: What do you enjoy about the subject(s) you teach? A: I really enjoy teaching the kids history. We often role-play and act out the ancient history, and in this way the history comes alive for the students (and for the teacher). I try to teach my kids that they are living history now, and the reason we study history is to learn from past mistakes (and successes) so that we can make the world a better place.  We often compare our lives now to those we are studying and the students often see that they have things pretty good now. Q: What do you enjoy about teaching at Rolling Hills Middle School? A: This is my second year teaching at Rolling Hills Middle School. I love the collaborative energy of the staff and administration.  Everyone works so well as a team here and it is very fun to share ideas and feel like you are a part of something greater. We have very supportive families and great students.  Also we are constantly striving to improve our programs, and I love being a part of a school that values teachers and, at the same time, values change.  It is also very fun to be a part of a staff that likes to spend time together and genuinely cares for one another. Q: What methods/tools do you use to continue to grow as a teacher? A: Definitely. It is all about being a life-long learner and sharing that with the students. I like to teach in a way that is exciting for the students and engages them.  Basically I think about what would be fun and engaging for me if I were the student.  If I am bored to tears as a teacher in my lesson, how can I expect my students to learn?  So I try to plan lessons and projects that teach the standards, but where the students have some choices in how they demonstrate what they have learned.  I also enjoy reader’s theater, role-playing and the interactive white board as well, to engage the students and get them excited about learning! Q: What are your hopes for the futures of your students? A: I hope that all of my students go on to graduate from high school and are successful beyond the classroom walls, be it a college education and professional career or a vocational or artistic path, I want my students to always strive to be the best they can be and to never settle for mediocrity.  I also want them to realize they will make mistakes, but just make sure to learn from those mistakes. Above all else, I want them to be happy in their lives.  In teaching, you spend a year with your kids and you really care about their lives and what happens to them. Educators are welcome to participate in the Telegraph’s Teacher Feature by e-mailing the editor at