As a history instructor, I have three main objectives. First, I strive to enable and empower my students to think critically about the world around them. In the classroom, I use the study of history as a vehicle to encourage my students to form and voice their opinions, to clarify their ideas, and to communicate effectively in both oral and written forms. Next, I challenge my students’ perspectives and expand their worldview. Through both lecture and discussion, I endeavor to upset their predetermined understandings of history, and to demonstrate the contingency of history. Finally, I aim to instill in my students an appreciation—and more importantly, a passion—for the study of history. I encourage them to see the world around them as a result of historical events, actors, and forces, and in turn, to view themselves as powerful agents of historical change. I push them to see that history is as much an intellectual as a creative enterprise. I strive to make history relevant to their lives, and thus urge them to engage in the past in a critical, analytical, and empathetic manner. Even for students who are not majors, I seek to pique each student’s interest in the field and convert them to the study of history.
I regularly adapt my teaching based on students’ needs. I reconfigure lectures, discussions, and reading and writing assignments to reflect the most cutting-edge scholarship and innovative pedagogical techniques. I facilitate a student-centered classroom, in which they contribute to the learning experience as much as possible. Even in large, survey courses, I balance lecture and discussion to promote an active learning environment. I foster a welcoming classroom community in which students feel comfortable to participate and in which I enthusiastically encourage them to voice their opinions. I establish a safe and respectful space for students to share their perspectives. Most importantly, I create a fun and enjoyable learning environment for my students to further engage them in the study of history. My students know that I am an enthusiastic historian, and that I teach in the field in the hopes of instilling that love in my students as well.
No matter the level of the course I teach, I encourage my students to think like historians. By introducing them to primary—and where applicable, archival—research, I teach my students to evaluate evidence and formulate arguments on the basis of their interpretation of this evidence. Even in survey-level courses, my students engage deeply with primary sources so that they might learn to analyze and form clear opinions about the readings, a tool they can carry with them to whatever career they pursue. I expose them to a variety of historical media, including primary and secondary sources, online databases, images, films, and music. Likewise, I welcome the opportunity to facilitate student visits to archives, museums, and historical sites to enhance their learning experiences. Finally, I use digital media and tools in the classroom, showing students the importance of the innovative field of the digital humanities.
Finally, I seek to create a supportive learning environment for each of my students. I aim to get to know them both as people and as learners. Regardless of the size of my classes, I make a point to learn each of their names, so that they know I am deeply invested in their success. I provide them with the necessary resources to give them the tools for success. I look forward to the opportunity to be a mentor for advanced students interested in pursuing history professionally, as well as those who choose to study history to further their other career goals.