This fall I began working as a TA for a History course at my university. One of the opportunities we have as TAs is that we lead our own discussion sections. As a former English and Portuguese teacher I quickly noticed variations in teaching styles. I was an EFL teacher in Brazil for six years, and my job welcomed games, songs, tech projects that would help students engage with the English language in fun but meaningful ways. The same approach worked when I was an instructor of Portuguese here in the US. Teaching History is, however, a very different thing, especially because I was never an undergraduate student in this country and so I could not relate to past experiences as a History major would. My main question after this first History-teaching experience is: How can I blend the best of both worlds (the culture-oriented, hands-on reality of language teaching with the reflective discussions of History) into my teaching? That's what has led me to explore educational technology. Even though I do not teach my own courses yet, having the chance to be with students in small groups provided me with an opportunity to start experimenting with some teaching strategies. For example, I tried to incorporate a few games here and there when the discussion topics allowed me to do it. Students also responded very positively to more student-centered activities, or group competitions that got them to work collaboratively.
To enrich my awareness of teaching practices with tech, and to learn about new pedagogical tools that can help me figure out my future role as a History teacher/professor/lecturer, I have recently started reading and really enjoying Derek Bruff's book Intentional Tech: Principles to Guide the Use of Educational Technology in College Teaching (2019). As my former HASTAC mentor, Derek has introduced me to this particular world of ed tech with which I had worked, but did not know of its vastness in inquiry and educational exploration. I have also began to participate of a reading club on campus about student motivation to become more aware of how I can approach History teaching when (hopefully) the time comes. The HASTAC blog posts have also been very helpful. It would still be extremely beneficial to find some sort of structured learning about all of this. Any ideas on where one could start? Or do you just start by experimenting with new tools and practices? The Spring is coming and I am looking forward to working with, and sharing new teaching strategies.