Tuesday, November 11, 2014

7 Questions With Brian Thomas, Teachers Curriculum Institute

(Brian was a middle school social studies teacher for twelve years just north of Cincinnati, OH.  In  the late 90s, he began using a program entitled History Alive by Teachers’ Curriculum Institute (TCI).  In 2002, he became a National Trainer for TCI, conducting pedagogy trainings around the country in the summer time while still teaching.  In 2004, he left the classroom to work full-time for TCI.  His current role includes sales, professional development, and content creation.  TCI website http://www.teachtci.com/ )

1.    How and/or when did you get you hooked on history? 

In high school.  My teachers inspired me to get into history through simulations and stories.

2.    What role does history play or has it played in your personal life? 

There are so many examples.  One would be - my mother does extensive genealogy research.  In the process of watching her do this, I get the benefit of hearing the stories of my heritage.

3.    How is/How was history a part of your professional life/career? 

I entered college knowing I wanted to teach history, and four years later…that’s exactly what I started doing.  Working with young people and teaching them US History was a joy; never a job.

 4.    Why is studying/knowing history important? 

 The only way to see where you are going in life is to see where you’ve come from.

 5.    What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why? 

 I thoroughly enjoy the Revolutionary War time period.  Initially it was the Civil War but then I read Rise to Rebellion by Jeff Shaara as well as other books that slowly began to change my mind.  It’s still fascinating to read about our nation’s founders.
6.    What are the major challenges facing social studies teachers today? 

Teachers are ever-more pinched on time.  Standards, which should have a place, can lead to thin study if pacing just for exams.  Teachers are pinched by the encroachment of ELA and Math for PD and support.  Too long publishers have treated teachers as content dumps….they’d write thick books and just expect teachers to lecture and worksheet kids to death.  Technology has changed that dynamic.  Content is not difficult to find…you can just Google it.  The greatest pinch of all still exists though….time.  There’s never enough of it to plan a great lesson.

 7.    What is TCI’s mission and how is it serving teachers and students? 

 TCI supports the teachers overcome that pinch.  We create great, hands-on lessons that come with the content.  That makes adapting the lesson to personal taste and need a lot easier than coming up with it.  TCI creates lessons that use tools like technology not like other companies that use a tool in search of instruction.  In other words, we support proven instructional practice.  In that space, TCI does not have a peer among publishers.


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