World studies remix

Restructured social science classes allow more autonomy

CHANGING: Bochnak’s World Studies classroom.

CHANGING: Bochnak’s World Studies classroom.

Social Studies teacher Thomas Bochnak has altered his World Studies class structure to give his students more freedom over their coursework, cultivating increased positivity and engagement in the classroom. 

During virtual learning, Bochnak was prompted to rethink how he teaches his lessons after noticing the relative disinterest in the classwork among his students. 

“Remote learning really made me realize how little of what I was doing actually made an impact or was interesting to my students,” said Bochnak. “I realized something had to change.”

In the new structure, to begin each unit, Bochnak lays out the groundwork for the topics the students will be covering. Then, the class will complete their assignments at whatever pace feels best for them, with occasional check-ins from Bochnak to ensure they understand the material. 

“I’ve totally given up control of the classroom to my students in a way. I basically build the track and I let the kids go as fast or as slow along the track as possible,” said Bochnak. “I feel like I’ve taken the best aspects of remote learning, which is that flexibility, autonomy, and independence that students got, as well as I am now guiding them instead of just lecturing them.” 

The new teaching style spurred many positive reactions from students, current and past. 

“When [Mr. Bochnak] changed the curriculum, it put excitement back into the classroom,” said Tife Salako ‘25. 

Other students are equally positive about the changes. . 

“I feel like this teaching is a good thing. [The teacher] moderates but also lets us do our own thing,” said Jaylen Robinson ‘25. 

Not only are students more excited about attending class, but they are also more engaged. 

“I think there is more engagement, though I still think there’s a lot of ‘I don’t understand why I need to understand this’ [from the students]. And so that part’s still challenging,’” said Bochnak. 

Some students agree that there remains room to grow within the new class style. 

“Personally, I prefer more structure in my class,” said Orli Josefson ‘25. “So there’s a lot of adjustments that I need to do well in that class.” 

While there may still be some tinkering with the class structure, Bochnak is nonetheless very happy with the outcome of the change.

“[The students] have been really appreciative with the trust that I’ve been giving them,” said Bochnak. “It’s been an amazing transition.”