My primary goal as a history teacher is to show students that the modes of interpretation and critical reading developed in class are not limited to historical studies alone. I explain to students that interpretation and critical reading help us reflect on present-day understandings of the world.

I recently taught a course on colonial Latin American history in the summer of 2019. My course examined how sexuality relates to conquest since the act of copulation brought about the mestizo and other castas. This course prompted students to consider how status interlinked with class, religion, and race in the Spanish Americas. Link to video 

By designing and employing group activities throughout the semester, my classroom transforms into a place of congeniality where students can discuss the course’s key themes while also engaging in critical thinking. Link to icebreaker Building a sense of camaraderie early in the semester creates a sense of belonging among students and facilitates peer-to-peer feedback for subsequent assignments. 

Many of the in-class activities focus on reading primary sources for meaning and context. When students engage with a historical document for the first time, they are encouraged to suspend their judgement and set aside their own preconceptions. 
Link to document Doing so enables students to read primary sources closely in order to better understand contemporary perspectives and historical context. By reading a document in this way, students begin to notice the gap between their twenty-first century perspectives and those of their historical subjects. This awareness generates more historically-grounded interpretations of the past. Finally, students apply their interpretations of primary sources by consulting secondary sources to see whether their hypotheses affirm or contradict those of professional historians. By the end of the semester, students are able to demonstrate in-depth primary source analysis and assess historical claims and arguments with greater precision.

With respect to the writing process, students learn how to modify their original hypothesis and revise their lines of argumentation. Peer-to-peer feedback is key to revising as it enables students to articulate their interpretations to their classmates, forcing them to synthesize their ideas while, simultaneously, holding them accountable. Dispelling the notion of the perfect first draft helps students to see their own work from someone else's vantage point. Over the course of the semester, students grow in confidence and enthusiasm thanks to having created a close-knit writing community. By combining socially oriented group activities with a focused pedagogical approach, students’ ability to write critical essays increases dramatically. Link to activity

Although I devise thoughtful lessons before the start of each semester, I revise my lesson plans based on students’ needs. Midway through the semester, I ask students whether the course has met their expectations and what suggestions they have for improvement. Link to survey Such feedback allows me to regularly tailor the course’s content and analytical focus to the needs of students.

At Duke University, I have designed and taught two courses as the sole instructor: Writing 101: Sex, Power, and Conquest (fall 2018), and History 326 Colonial Latin America (summer 2019). I have also served as a teaching assistant for three semesters. I taught alongside Dean Gerald Wilson for the U.S. history course entitled American Dreams, American Realities (Hist 130D), Professor Pete Sigal for the course entitled Sexual Pleasure in the Modern World (Hist 112), and Professor Thomas Robisheaux for Magic, Religion and Science since 1400 (Hist 260). In all of these courses, I liaised with the major professors and teaching assistants each week. Together, we exchanged ideas regarding our individual sections and discussed marking standards to streamline the grading process. I have improved my pedagogical expertise further by enrolling in teaching-oriented courses such as Focusing on Teaching and Pedagogy (Hist 703) and Fundamentals of College Teaching (GS 750). 

This experience has allowed me to refine my approach to teaching by creating assignments that promote active learning. As I continue to teach, I will look for new ways to encourage students to pursue creative engagement with the narratives and ideas that structure the world in which they live.