Mr. Jesse Koproski
7th & 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher
Education : BBA from Hofstra University in Long Island, MAT in Secondary Education / Social Studies from Fairfield University, CT Teaching and Coaching Permit.
What is your overall approach to teaching Social Studies?
My approach is to give the students the necessary skills to master material on their own terms and make their own judgements about history. Although they may forget facts and dates, by using strategies of critical reasoning they develop in my course, they will ideally be able to access history on a deeper level throughout their lives.
Is there a specific focus?
There is no specific focus on content, but rather a focus on developing the skills that students are likely to utilize and lean on in their high school academic careers.
How do you encourage the love of Social Studies?
Unnecessary and unrelenting enthusiasm for the tedium of historical analysis, combined with a dry sense of humour. I’m a history nerd, and I think the students can see that I’m not ashamed of this.
Are there any interesting / special projects that the students look forward to?
In 7th grade, students get very excited about the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party Mock Trial simulations, where we role play history in a courtroom using arguments developed from historical sources. Students get to refine these skills further when they take on structured debates in 8th grade such as our forthcoming debate on the policies of American Imperialism. Both activities are competitive, but also require collaboration.
Are there classroom traditions or themes?
Each year I try to create some new traditions with my new group of students that is unique to them, but I don’t have anything specific that comes to mind. I am open to trying some new ones!
What surprises you about your students?
Students at this age are capable of truly brilliant thinking at times! Even having taught American Studies for several years, I am still surprised at the depth and the insight students are able to offer, and they seem to draw new conclusions each year I hadn’t considered.
What is your biggest goal for your students this year?
To weather the storm and be proud of their accomplishments.
How do you integrate "real life" examples/life skill development into your lesson planning?
Through various simulations and group work, students are forced to collaborate and compromise in order to accomplish tasks in a way that mirrors both the political realities of living in a representative democracy, and the simple reality of figuring out what to eat for dinner with their family that night.
What are your goals for your students as they look toward high school ?
To be able to access high level history courses, should they choose to pursue them, and to be able to present their own ideas as arguments that can be supported by evidence and reasoning.
How do you help your students prepare for high school ?
We do the same type of history work that might be done in high school or college, but on a level manageable for where students are in their development. Leaning heavily on primary documents from the past, the skills students foster in my class will, in many cases, directly apply to their high school social studies classes. There is also a focus on argumentative writing form that leaves students with a usable framework for tackling bigger assignments they may see later in their academic careers.
What do you hope your students will leave your class with in June (besides the 'classwork' part)?
A better understanding of how to view the world from another’s perspective.
What do you think makes a high school a success, and how do you contribute to that?
Academic skills are necessary, but if a student believes they can accomplish a difficult task and see that success in the outcome of the work they put, that belief will stick with them through any sort of adversity.
If you had to sell the GCS to a new student or family what would you say?
What makes GCS stand out?
GCS really does create a sense of community that is easily lost in larger and less personable institutions. The strong relationships that are fostered here, between students, parents, and faculty, are unique in how they create an environment that supports the individual learner yet also provides the benefits and inclusion of a close-knit community.
What do you like to do on weekends?
Whitewater kayaking! Year round! My go-to spot is Tariffville Gorge in East Granby, CT but I’ll travel wherever the water is!
Tell me about your family, pets..
I have two loving parents in Bethel, CT who just adopted a new Shetland Sheepdog puppy named Peet, who is awesome! My younger brother is a professor of English language at Cornell and we swap teaching stories all the time.