Thursday, February 21, 2008

The one where Tammy rambles incessantly about her job

     I don't know if it is like this in other jobs, but it is exhausting to be the best teacher you can be.  Most of you know that after years of teaching English, I started teaching Economics when I moved to Texas.

     I didn't plan to teach Economics, it was just the only job I could find.  Turns out, that was the luckiest break of my life (besides my cute husband, of course).

     I love teaching Economics.  I teach only seniors, it is a one semester class, it is not tested on any standardized test, it is required to graduate, and it is immediately applicable to the lives of every one of my students.  Plus, NO ESSAYS!

    Anyway, last year was my learning year.  I had a steep learning curve, because I had to teach regular and AP Econ.  Plus, I was super sick for a lot of that time.  This year has been my time to really experiment and have fun with the subject.  We started a new semester about four weeks ago and in that time we have:
  • Conducted a trading game to illustrate the point that through free trade everyone benefits.
  • Created link and smile factories to make our own PPF graphs
  • Simulated a small economy where business and households bought and sold resources in order to better understand the circular flow model.  Businesses won if they had the most $, households won if they had the most stuff.
  • Held a donut auction to learn about Demand
  • Used Playdough to create various products and learn about Supply
  • Created a Candy Price Index to understand how the CPI is made
  • Used Playdough to learn about GDP
  • Plus a bunch of smaller, mini-activities
     Before you go thinking that I am the Greenspan of HS economics, I should say that I didn't invent any of the above activities, I just spent many hours finding and implementing them.  I've also been really focused on having a high energy level in class, which basically involves me putting on a song and dance show about half the time. ("Now class, which way does the demand line shift when demand decreases?" Off key singing "To the left, to the left, everything you own in the box to the left.  No Junior, I'm not having a seizure, that's just my ultra cool dance moves")

     The thing is, it is so easy to assign book work, definitions and worksheets, but trying to have at least one fun activity planned for every day of school is exhausting.  I feel like I am running from 8:30-3:45 every day.  Yet, even as I complain about feeling so tired, I love feeling like I am really doing my best and making an impact on my students.

     Of course, I still have students who think that Economics is the most confusing and boring subject in the world, but I know that I have reached at least a few of them. 

     So this brings me to tonight.  I am soooo tired.  I just want to go to dinner at the Thompson's (thanks Camille!), watch LOST, and go to bed.  My question is, since I've been such a good girl lately, would it be so bad to assign some bookwork and take a break tomorrow?  Or do I need to do the right thing and conduct a simulated Silver Market so we can see how prices are set at equilibrium?


Trena said...

Tammy, I would assign the book work. But you are far different from me, so I'm guessing you'll go with the fun activity. That's why you are such a great teacher. I loved economics when I was in high school. My teacher taugh us how to buy a car and not get ripped off. So awesome.

Anne said...

Did you get that donut auction from American Heritage at BYU? I totally remember that! Also, have you played Puerto Rico yet? Perfect it!

Pixie said...

Dearest Tammy,

This is why I love you. You're making one of the most dreaded HS subjects FUN! I loved econ, but not because of my teacher... she was nice, but a dud. I loved it because I had other friends in there and we already "got it" so we'd crack jokes.

The bookwork is okay... but if you really wanna connect, well, you already know. ;)

Tammy said...

So, I ended up making a compromise. I didn't do the activity which is very involved and very likely to end in chaos. Instead, I had them make Supply and Demand cause and effect chains on poster boards and present them to the class. It was more interesting than book work, and I didn't need to hold their hands through every step of the process.

It turned out to be a pretty good day. The kids worked really hard and even had some pretty funny presentations.

Sariah said...

Your job sounds so fun! I would love to be a student in your class! I'm glad there are teachers like you who care and connect with students! You RAWK!!