I try to spend about 20 minutes per hour of AP Government every day to discuss current events to interest students in government. Students need to answer daily written warmup questions to show their opinions and knowledge about different topics. The magazine Upfront from Scholastic also is quite helpful and is geared towards high school students. We go through current events each day using the Smart Board using both videos and written articles. We use allsides.com and cnn.com to find articles. We also use a Supreme Court case of the week. I have moved about different chapters this year to make sure I was teaching about the election around the time of the election.
Why do you think it’s important to have these conversations?
I think it is important to have well-structured conversations about controversial topics in an AP Government class. With the exception of human rights issues, I try to emphasize that there are not right or wrong issues, but matters of opinion, and that it is important to know both sides of every issue.
Does this add political tension to your job?
It does not add tension to my job but a sense of satisfaction that students in my classes are able to ask good questions and express their views in a safe environment. I am fortunate that my principal is very supportive of teachers taking initiative to have difficult conversations in our classroom, and parents are also supportive in my district as long as these conversations remain safe and respectful. I have seen an increase in student engagement with daily current events discussions. I have seniors who I had for AP Government as juniors who state how much they miss their daily updates on current events.
What do you see as your job in guiding students through political questions?
My role as a teacher is to try to create an environment where students can gain knowledge about our government and can develop their own political ideology by learning issues in depth and can hear opposing points of view.