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LAUSD's Social Studies Instruction Promotes Civic Competence

As a significant number of teachers retire, job openings for new high school instructors will increase in the coming years. Educators with a solid background in specialized subjects, such as social studies, should have a better chance of making a constructive difference in the classroom. Isabel Morales said her accreditation has enabled her to prepare students for community activism.

(Photo Courtesy of Isabel Morales)

"My education focused on the importance of developing a curriculum that is rigorous, culturally relevant and applicable to real world situations," said Morales, a social studies teacher at Los Angeles High School of the Arts, who holds several major credentials, including a doctorate in educational leadership. "For this reason, my students learn by exploring who they are and then discussing how the federal government's actions affect them as students and children of immigrants."

How is your instruction promoting civic competence?

"Students are able to learn that democracy thrives when citizens are informed and active. They learn that they have power in creating the world they want to live in, whether by voting, engaging in civic discourse, becoming involved in organizations, campaigning, protesting or signing petitions."

How will a social studies instructor's role change by 2025?

"To prepare our students for the world, we much teach literacy, civic engagement, technology and the connections among all three. There are many powerful examples of young people using social media campaigns and online petitions to advocate for themselves."

How should proactive social studies teachers prepare for sound careers?

"I encourage teachers to think outside the box, be creative, and engage their students in real-world problem-solving. They should connect with other teachers, utilize social media to stay current on innovative practices and continue learning."

What is your pointed message to fellow social studies teachers?

"To help mold students into critical thinkers and responsible citizens, I advise teachers to look for ways to connect student learning to local and global contexts. For example, when I taught about the legislative process, my students read texts on immigration policy, interviewed migrants and paid a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border to learn more about the various interests driving policy decisions."

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

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