The history classroom is a site of mutual respect and open discussion. I pride myself on cultivating a learning environment in which students can candidly express differing opinions, while providing a structure they can use to reach their own conclusions. Thus the classroom becomes a type of laboratory of ideas. My role is as an accessible guide and mentor, invested in each student's interaction with the course, taking their work seriously and offering thoughtful, constructive feedback. As such, I often welcome disagreement from students; the commitment is to their development as better writers, critical thinkers, and young professionals who think historically, not to their providing the "right" answers to complex historical questions.
Learning takes place when students demonsh·ate changes in behavior, something I observe and facilitate over the course of the semester through close editing of required weekly writing exercises. In comments, I strive to offer explanations rather than merely corrections. Suggestions always conclude with specific questions; for example, Having read text A, how might you now think differently about text B? How can you rewrite this paragraph so that every sentence or example works to reinforce your thesis?
To promote active learning, I am committed to guiding regular, structured classroom debates—often encouraging students to defend positions they disagree with—as well as to frequent peer review sessions. Close interaction between students not only fosters lasting camaraderie but also reinforces the need to take one's own work seriously. This pedagogy demands participation in a productive, supportive manner. It hones students' confidence and ability to fluidly discuss a variety of complicated topics.
As an historian, I am personally committed to scholarship that attempts to restore agency to historical actors frequently denied a voice, be it by the structures that governed their lives or by the archive. As such—and especially at a university such as NYU, with its exceptionally diverse student body—crucial to my teaching is an active interest in representation and a diversity of experiences. To widen the scope of inquiry on a particular topic, where fit I often suggest supplementary material that may more comprehensively incorporate a variety of experiences, particularly of subaltern historical subjects. And, when necessaiy, I work with fellow students to bring attention to the underlying, historical issues behind potentially prejudiced attitudes that may be present in discussion, unmasking them in newly relevant ways.
I value the opportunity to break down complex texts and ideas so to make course material relevant to students' lives, an effort particularly important to the study of the past. As a mentor and developing expert, I make myself available for regular consultation both regarding the course material and general questions of scholarship. Personal engagement—attending a Tisch student's directorial debut, suggesting internship possibilities, recommending students for awards and scholarships—reinforces positive learning and confidence. This approach helps prepare students for futures in any professional direction, where they will, without syllabi, continue to think critically and, especially, historically.