5/31/16 – This page is a work in progress but does represent my core values and practices in the classroom.
As an educator, I value variety and challenge. If you popped into the middle of one of my class meetings, you might catch me in the middle of a short lecture. Or you might find my students discussing a text in small groups with one another. Or you might find all of us fixated on our phones, completing check-in quizzes or browsing a student-written blog post together. My goal is to provide students the opportunity to learn in ways that are comfortable to them and in ways that stretch their thought processes, writing skills, and abilities to work with one another.
As a historian, my teaching practices and aims are heavily influenced by writers concerned with historical thinking (sometimes called “historical consciousness” or “history-minded”). Lectures, in-class activities, and course assessments are designed to foster in students the skills that historians take for granted. To that end, I ask students to read, discuss, and interpret sources from past times and places to grow their abilities to think critically and contextually. They co-write a class blog throughout the semester in an effort to create compelling stories out of complex evidence. We talk at length about how different people in the past are from ourselves and try to understand their beliefs, values, and perceptions of the world.
My goal in the end is not to create future historians. Instead, I encourage students to develop the skills historians use to speak to present circumstances in nuanced and insightful ways and I provide the digital and classroom platforms for them to begin to exercise their own abilities.