This morning, I felt like I was behind from the moment the alarm went off. I had missed two days of school last week to attend the Annual National Conference of Social Studies Conference in Washington, D.C., and now as I entered my classroom, I questioned if the days were worth what I had gained. The answer is a resounding "YES"!
As my students settled in this morning, I started the class discussing the two tours I had taken while at the conference. The first was to Lincoln's Cottage where he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation and the second was to the National Archives.
Lincoln's Cottage is a small, sparsely decorated home located on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Lincoln used the cottage as an escape from the craziness of the time. He visited the wounded soldiers (it was a hospital during the Civil War), spent time resting with his wife and sons, and wrote parts of the Emancipation Proclamation on small scraps of paper that were collected by William Slave to be placed in Lincoln's desk drawer for further review the next day. This idea of Lincoln needing a respite from his daily life and his interactions with so many people closely involved in the war gave me a deeper understanding of the background of this beloved president. It also allowed me to discuss the Emancipation Proclamation from a different angle today in class. I felt like I had firsthand knowledge of the document that I have taught annually for the last dozen years for the first time. My two hours on site made me a better teacher today.
The National Archives are well-known from the movie National Treasure as it is the scene where the Declaration of Independence is stolen. The building itself houses several interactive exhibits as well as the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. The Declaration always makes me a little teary-eyed. The fact that these men were willing to give up their lives, their freedom, and their sacred honors to give us the opportunity to be free. The Declaration itself is incredibly faded. However, four words are still clearly visible - "free and independent states". This is the heart of America. We are free and independent states. I love that! I had a nice discussion about those words with my students today. The Archives currently have an exhibit called "A More Perfect Union". In it, the curators have amassed several interactive stations where visitors can investigate important court cases, moments in history, and lesser known individuals. The exhibit gave me ideas of court cases to pair up for a stronger APUSH review for my students. It also made me think and remember and focus on why I love what I do so much. This visit also made me a better teacher today because students learn better when you make things come alive which is so much easier when you remember that you LOVE this subject!
So, you missed your shot at NCSS for this year. However, you still have a wonderful opportunity to be reminded of why you do what you do and become an even better teacher by attending the rescheduled SCCSS conference in Columbia on February 20th (reception), 21st (Conference), and 22nd (awards breakfast & breakout sessions). The conference will be a wonderful professional development opportunity. You don't want to miss out!
Registration is open. If you had already registered before the Hurricane forced a reschedule, you do not need to register again. However, you will need to book your room at the Columbia Marriott.
I look forward to seeing you in February! What you gain by attending will be worth the sub plans. :)