Teaching

My classrooms are active learning environments in which students engage with the material and with each other. In my courses, students read both secondary and primary sources. While the latter give them a taste of being historians, the former demonstrates the construction of nuanced, analytical, and evidence-driven arguments. Courses are designed to encourage collaborative learning, and students in my courses often become tight-knit collectives who are supportive of each other.

My teaching is also informed by Atlantic history in an early modern sense, and America’s place in the global community during the modern era. My preparation enables me to teach courses in the Atlantic Slave Trade and the Atlantic World, as well as more thematic courses like religious history, African American studies and race and ethnicity. I taught a writing-intensive race and ethnicity themed course at UNH Durham a few years ago to a largely homogeneous enrollment that was initially resistant to the subject matter, and received a 4.5 on my teaching evaluations. I approached the course as a historical inquiry into how ideas about race and ethnicity involved, which the students enjoyed. Many feared that the course might be sanctimonious in tone.

I have successfully taught students to approach controversial subjects in a thoughtful way. For example, many of my New England-born students are reluctant to confront the fact that New Englanders were not all abolitionists. Presenting them with thoughtful, well-researched studies, like Joanne Pope Melish’s Disowning Slavery, or Margot Minardi’s Making Slavery History encourages the students to consider the evidence, rather than approaching the topic viscerally. They come to understand that they do not always have to agree with ideas to consider them, and that in being open to considering evidence they can gain a greater understanding and appreciation of a topic. A recent student in this class told me that he “learned more about New England history in this class” than he “learned in 12 years of public school and 25 years of living here.”

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