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Ben Monsma

Professors Keeley and Rooks

Education 302/303
Unit Plan Self-Reflection
April 25, 2016
Reflecting on Reagan
As I think about my experience in planning, implementing and teaching
this unit on the Reagan Era of American history, two quotes I stumbled
across on the internet by happenstance appear extremely relevant. The first
is a quote by John Cotton Dana, Who dares to teach must never cease to
learn. The second is from Richard David Bach, You teach best what you
most need to learn. Now, honestly I have no idea who these two men are or
what kind of impact they left on the world beyond these two quotes, but I am
finding that in less than ten words each of them captures a profound idea.
When I told Mrs. Boender that for this class I had to plan and teach an
entire unit in mid-April, and asked what topics that might include I was
initially discouraged. Given the way Calvin Christian High School sets up the
curriculum for US History, the topics I could choose between were the 1980s
(Reagan), the 1990s (George H.W. Bush and Clinton) and the 2000s (George
W. Bush and the War of Terror). I would not count any of these topics among
my favorite eras in history, nor would I claim to be especially knowledgeable
in any of those areas; only being able to pull a fact or two and my own biases
on these Presidents and times. This is the first way I think that the quotes I
mentioned above have had a profound influence on my experience in
planning my unit on the Reagan Era. In an ideal world, I think I would have

rather had my first actual teaching experience (by this I mean planning and
developing each lesson into a unit and then teaching it) with a time period I
was more familiar with like the Civil Rights Era or the Cold War. But I took
Education 302/303 to learn, and was placed at Calvin Christian to learn via
real world experience, so I opened my mind to this somewhat foreign
material and learned myself, what I would teach my students. I will take this
idea and apply it when asked to teach other eras of history; you never know
when you will find something important and new, history is always speaking
to us. Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.
A second way that these quotes influenced my planning and
implementation of my unit was trying to plan lessons where the students
take charge of their own learning. I did include some direct instruction
(student note taking) in the unit because it is the best way I could think of to
convey the information to them, but I found that teaching this way is rather
boring. What I enjoy much more is the opportunity to engage not only with
the material, but also with the students as they go through the information. I
want my students to wrestle with the material so that questions arise and
further learning occurs. I think all learners should look at anything they are
being taught like they will have to teach it at some point; no one knows you
better than yourself, so who better to teach you than you. Teaching means
continual learning, you teach best what you most need to learn.
Planning, implementing and teaching a unit for the first time is scary,
and its intimidating, but it is also very eye opening. Now I would not claim

to have done the best job planning and teaching this unit on the Reagan Era;
chalk that up to inexperience. However, the only way to beat inexperience is
to actually go through and do it and not be afraid to make mistakes. Despite
any difficulty I may have had while planning and teaching this unit, I do think
that it was effective for the students. I think they were getting at the points I
wanted them to get at and taking charge of their learning the way I wanted
them to. I am truly thankful for Mrs. Boender, who was there every step of
the way in helping me plan lessons and making sure they were things that
would connect with the students.