La Estrella Texas Council for the Social Studies eNewsletter // August 2018

La Estrella de Tejas (The Star of Texas) is the official e-newsletter of the Texas Council for the Social Studies. La Estrella is published four times a year to provide our community with timely information and opportunities related to social studies education in Texas. The contents of La Estrella are not copyrighted unless indicated. It is appropriate, however, to credit sources as well as La Estrella when reproducing items from this e-newsletter. Reproduction for profit is prohibited. To ensure La Estrella is delivered to your mailbox, add laestrella@txcss.net to your contact list.

Welcome Back!

Erika Lowery, TCSS President

"Don't settle for mediocrity, find your passion and take a chance." I am looking forward to the start of another fabulous year! Congratulations to our new teachers and welcome to the profession. The Texas Council for the Social Studies is eager to support our members and to reach out to other social studies educators across this great state. As you make your way through the school year, please take a moment to visit our website for classroom resources and opportunities to network with colleagues in your area. In addition, learn more about our #TXCSS2018 Fall Conference. Registration is open and we look forward to the sharing this experience.

First Day Jitters

Kip Harmon, TCSS President-Elect

Tossing and turning the night before. Anxious feelings in the morning at breakfast. Who is going to be in our classes? Will we get along with everyone? How is the year going to go? How soon will I know all the students’ names? And this is just a few of the feelings and questions that every teacher has right before the first day of school.

I recently read an article in Education Week that got me to thinking about ways to ease those first day jitters for our students as they enter our classrooms. The author suggested we think about the way we seat our students on that first day and maybe not just put them in alphabetical order or just let students sit where ever they want. Instead, she suggests that teachers engage students in a variety of seating challenges to get to know a bit about each student and set the tone for positive collaboration for the year. The challenges each take about 10-15 minutes and she does one each day for the first week. She says that the these challenges allow her to get to know personalities and can help in the planning for future lessons.

Learning students’ names and personalities is just the beginning. Building relationships with the students in our classes is probably the most important thing teachers can do to help students be successful. Greeting students at the door, finding out about their interests, and talking to their parents are all ways to start to learn what it is that makes each student tick. Parents can let teachers in on what motivates or crushes their child. Connecting to their interests and finding out what they love to do out of school can give teachers a way to begin conversations. Greeting kids at the door gives a teacher an instant temperature check on how students are doing as they enter the classroom. These ideas are just a few ways to begin to make connections with students.

Try a few of these ideas out as this new year begins. Maybe it will help make the best year ever for each student.

You can find more information at the following two article links:

Get your classroom featured!

In the spirit of collaboration and innovation, TCSS is looking for teachers willing to share photos of their classroom setup with other members of the community. Email laestrella@txcss.net with your name, city, and photos of your classroom! Photos will be used on our website and social media channels - please make certain photos are of the classroom space only (no students, please).

Join Today!

Kathy Uhlich, Director of Membership

What could be better than being a social studies educator in the great state of Texas! Thank you for the talent and dedication you bring to our noble profession. TCSS membership benefits extend to more than just professional networking and a great Fall Conference. Annual membership includes:

  • The Social Studies Texan, published three times a year;
  • The Social Studies Texas digital archive;
  • The Journal of Social Studies and History Education;
  • Opportunities for professional development hours;
  • Legislative advocacy and updates relevant to social studies; and,
  • Access to an extraordinary network of social studies educators from across the state!

Invite a friend or co-worker to become a member also, and you’ll both enjoy the best part of being a social studies educator. Join now or renew your membership online today. If you need assistance with membership, please email.

Registration is Open!

Registration Questions email conference@txcss.net

The TXCSS Conference hosts over a thousand participants each year. This year #TXCSS2018 is scheduled for October 12-14, 2018. We look forward to providing you with experiences to energize your classroom and opportunities to broaden your professional learning network.

Stalwart Grant Recipients

Sharon Owens, TCSS Scholarships and Grants

TCSS is pleased to announce the recipients of this year's Stalwart Grants.

Intended for continuing education in social studies. Up to four (4) $500 teacher mini-grants will be awarded each year. One will be awarded in memory of Jean Lantz. The funds may be used to purchase curriculum materials to be used in the classroom and/or to cover training/conference expenses not covered by other sources.

Learn how each recipient will use their grant money by visiting the Awards and Grants page and prepare your application for next year's Stalwart Grant application process.

  • Nicole Vickerman is Department Chair and Geography team leader at Clark High School in Plano ISD. (21 years teaching experience)
  • Samuel J. Ayers is an Associate Professor at Lubbock Christian University-School of Education. (33 years teaching experience)
  • Traniece Brown-Warrens is an 8th grade US history teacher at Edison Middle School in Houston ISD. (3 years teaching experience)
  • William Waghorne is a 6/7 grade teacher at Canyon Vista Middle School in Round Rock ISD. (10 years teaching experience)

Congratulations to our Stalwart Grant recipients!

Connect with your Local Council

Membership in your local council provides opportunities for collaboration with professionals in related fields who care about the future of social studies education in Texas. We encourage you to become an active member of your local council. Find a local council in your area.

If you would like to organize a local council in your area, TCSS is here to help. Download our local council checklist to learn more about getting started. Email socialstudie@txcss.net to learn more.

About TCSS


The Texas Council for the Social Studies is a nonprofit organization serving all social studies educators and supporters across the state. Social studies is the study of social relationships and the functioning of society. We are made up of history, government, economics, geography, civics, sociology, and anthropology specialist and professionals. Membership in TCSS provides opportunities for professional growth, collaboration with other educators, and opportunities to be active citizens working for the advancement social studies education.

See you in Houston for #TXCSS2018

Artist @Gonzo247 // Photograph @TexasMurals



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