Social Studies Teacher Reflects on First Year

By Ben Carlton ’16

Nearly a year removed from his eye-opening student-teaching experience here, Mr. Nermin Cecunjanin can look back on that time with gratitude.

“Chico (Mr. Pieter Chicofsky) was a tremendous help for me,” said Mr. Cecunjanin, or Mr. C as his students call him. “He let me make all the mistakes during my lessons, which actually helped a lot. He reviewed everything with me after the lesson, instead of interrupting during the class.”

Further discussing his gratefulness, Mr. Cecunjanin spoke about how easy it was to work in such a “collaborative” social studies department. Especially with an AP like Ms. Joann Peters, who was given an award by the state for her work as a supervisor.

When he taught in a room after Ms. Peters first semester, she would gladly take the time to go over what she did in her lessons, and offer the rookie teacher some pointers. But as Mr. Cecunjanin emphasized, not in an ‘I’m better than you so listen to me’ way, more like one peer just helping out another.

  One difficulty that Mr. C has found in his transition to full teacher is planning for multiple classes. He teaches five classes in total, between freshman global history and senior economics. Compared to the one class he was involved in per semester last school year, the workload is ramped way up.

Now, he has approximately 170 students. As a result, Mr. Cecunjanin is still struggling to find ways to manage all of his classes’ work and return it to his students in a timely manner. But as noted, this is an issue that many experienced teachers face as well.

In his freshman classes, Mr. Cecunjanin found trouble in the fact that students were coming from various educational backgrounds.

“I didn’t expect to see the educational gaps or the wide range of abilities in the freshman I teach,” Cecunjanin said candidly. “It forces me to make adjustments within each class when I know that a document won’t be compatible for every student.”

As for most teachers, Mr. C tries hard to connect with his students. He does this in a similar way to Mr. Chicofsky, by keeping the class atmosphere light, relaxed, and by remaining personable. In the halls, he goes out of his way to say hi to his students, and checks in with his seniors on their college admissions.

Even with the dilemmas facing him, Mr. Cecunjanin has become a favorite of students he’s had.

“As a student teacher, Mr. C looked very nervous at first, but when he got into the flow of things, he was pretty cool and did a great job,” said Dante Peralta ’16, who had Cecunjanin as a student teacher in Mr. Chicofsky’s Global 4 class.

“Mr. C taught the most informative, modern, and interactive class I have been a part of at Midwood,” Adam Badiner ’15, from Cecunjanin’s economics class, expressed. “The other students and I were eager to learn from him, and there was a level of mutual respect from him to the rest of the class I’ve never experienced before.”

Mr. Cecunjanin is a new global history teacher.

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