No one can plan for medical emergencies or when babies are born. Several times I have been a substitute for the first week or two of school. This particular time, a history teacher’s wife was having their first baby. You can’t miss that. You’ll regret it for the rest of your life if you do.
In September, especially at the high school level, there is usually a discussion about 9-11. What I didn’t realize was that these sophomore students were only pre-schoolers at the time. They did not understand what was going on. Therefore, it was necessary to tweak the teacher’s lesson plan a little.
Instead of having the students write the required essay about where they were and how they felt about 9-11, I attempted to lay out the facts through famous photographs and the personal details of my day so that students could begin to understand what actually happened. I had the students brainstorm why they think the particular targets were chosen by Al-Qaeda; i.e., the financial system [twin towers in New York], our national defense [the Pentagon], and, of course, the leader of the United States [the White House]. After our discussions, then I had the students write their opinions about the topics discussed.
For this history class, I had the opportunity to look at the 100-question citizenship test for the United States and the students and I got a chance to work together to see how much we knew. I was surprised at how much I didn’t know. Together we learned more about our government, the political party platforms, and what it means to be a citizen in the United States.