Department: History and Social Science
My classes are influenced by my personality, so they’re free-flowing, positive, collaborative, and competitive. I ask myself, “What would I want if I were a student here?”
A major focus of the humanities at NMH is to get students ready to excel in all their classes and to develop takeaway life skills. So while I want students to learn the information, I’m even more concerned that they know how to access information, to form opinions based on that information, and to discuss even difficult topics with people who have varied perspectives. That’s true whether we’re discussing current events or something that happened hundreds of years ago.
I often teach Humanities II: World History. I know that, a year from now, students won’t remember much of what we go over this semester. So my goal is that they learn to recognize themes that are consistently repeated in different places and situations throughout history. I want students to be able to identify and have conversations about these themes and to build skills they can use for the rest of their lives.
Whatever the content I’m teaching — World History, Diversity and Social Justice, or something else — my classes are all about relationships, collaboration, and competition. I organize students into teams and hold “Gold Cup challenge” competitions throughout the semester where groups earn points for working together. Students also keep journals and write reflections on how they’re engaging in the work. And we play music before class; sometimes they choose it, sometimes I introduce them to music I like (New Edition, J. Cole, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé…)
I also get to know students as an advisor, a dorm head, assistant boys’ varsity basketball coach, and faculty advisor of The Brothers (a group for male students of color). So students get to see multiple layers of me, and I see different aspects of them.
I aim to merge characteristics of the basketball court and classroom, a project I focused on as a graduate student at U. Penn. Being a coach has made me a better teacher, and vice versa. I try to use my life experiences to students’ advantage. If I’m enjoying myself, they’ll enjoy themselves and achieve as well.
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