Ms. Shifton Shifts to Eastern

She believes it’s in her blood to teach. 

Mahawa Bangoura

More stories from Mahawa Bangoura

Shifton teaches her Expression 2 history class through hands-on, interactive lessons.

Mahawa Bangoura

Shifton teaches her Expression 2 history class through hands-on, interactive lessons.

As Eastern Regional High School’s enrollment increases to 2,000 students, like it was pre-pandemic, Eastern also welcomes Ms. Ali Shifton, a junior history teacher in room 206, with open arms. 

  Ms. Shifton’s childhood consisted of being curled up with a book, listening to music, playing rec soccer in Cherry Hill, taking pride in her schoolwork, and tutoring children in social studies, all leading her to Eastern’s humble abode. 

  She graduated from Cherry Hill East and The College of New Jersey where she majored in History Secondary Ed., landing her a job in Eastern.

  When she’s not in the classroom, Ms. Shifton enjoys being at the beach, reading, spending time with friends and family, and taking classes at TCNJ to get her certification to teach Psychology. 

  Coming from a family of educators, she always had an idea that she wanted to be a teacher. It truly clicked and made a connection for her in her junior year of high school.

  She believes it’s in her blood to teach. 

  She has always been interested in social studies and had high school teachers who nourished her love for the subject by relating the topics and discussions to her life. Shifton appreciated and connected with her teachers who used the more interactive method of hands on learning instead of hardcore notes. 

  “I never expected to have my first job via Eastern, but it has been amazing,” Shifton said. 

  Despite attending East, Shifton is fully committed to Eastern. 

  “I loved my high school experience, but I believe Eastern is the best fit for me,” she said.

  She wants to keep her students engaged and motivated while directing them to become self-directed learners and promoting student voice. 

  “I think students should make personal and literal connections with the material. Once they do that, they will buy into your class,” she said.  

  Ms. Shifton’s own tips for studying and taking notes are for students to handwrite their notes. She is a firm believer in handwritten notes since that’s how she was taught and learned how to develop her own shorthand and remember the material.

  “You can’t copy down everything on a powerpoint slide,” she said. To study, she used Quizlet since she was never a flashcard person. 

  Since everyone is different, she believes students have to find what works for them and know what their teacher is looking for. When she was younger, she used to be anxious about her tests and quizzes and had to alter her mindset to a growth mindset, even if things might not always go great.  

  In her class specifically, Ms. Shifton draws her students in with Do-Nows and group-work to have her students interact with each other. She considers her class more student-centered learning and enjoys how flexible history is. It allows her to do more with her students because if they see her having fun, she hopes that they’ll have fun as well. 

  Ms. Shifton is committed to connecting the lessons in history to her students’ lives as her teachers had done for her. For example, her U.S. II History classes are learning about the Progressive Era and are continually making connections to what they have in their present day society. She has a Make-History Board in the back of her class that exhibits different honorary figures who have made a change in history. Through this board and more, she wants her students to realize that they can and do make an impact on history.

  When her students walk past the threshold of her door, they know that they will be working and learning. 

  As for classroom rules, she wants her students to be respectful. Respect stems off into different branches, like being respectful to her, her time, their peers, and the content. 

  Respect is also showing up on time and being prepared for Ms. Shifton’s class. She prefers to use more of a “growth” mindset instead of settling with the idea of being strict and overbearing.

  Even though she isn’t strict with her students, Ms. Shifton sticks closely to her lesson plans. She considers herself a planner, making lesson plans everyday, and the only reason she wouldn’t follow her lesson plans is because of time. 

  “If not, I would go crazy,” she said, laughing. “And we can’t operate that way!”   

  As school continues on, there is bound to be some hiccups along the way, but she plans to navigate them through a “positive, collaborative conversation.” 

  Growing up, Ms. Shifton always took the highest level of history classes from Honors World, to AP Psych., to APUSH, since it was the class that was personally important to her. 

  Even though these classes came with their own set of burdens and a certain amount of stress, they were the classes that her teachers made engaging and got the wheels in her brain to turn and made her think that history does matter. 

  From high school history to college history, she saw a difference of night and day. High school history was implanted in textbooks and notes with names and dates, while college history transformed her into a historian with an abundance of research, reading, analyzing, and making hands-on personal connections. 

  She believes this is how her students can also make these connections. 

  She wouldn’t want to teach any other subject; Ms. Shifton sticks by history like an unmoving boulder. 

  “I love the content,” she said.