Archive for the ‘Teaching’ category

Teaching “May Term”: Some Reflections

May 30, 2013


teacher writing

Some call it “May Term”… some call it “J term”… if I were a poet, I could come up with a third.  Regardless of your terminology, I’m writing about the “intensive, semester in a few weeks EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME” that many schools have.  “Back in my day” as an undergrad, this was not an option.  However, I’d like to offer a few points of advice from this side of the podium on how to handle teaching an intensive semester-in-a-month class.

1) Cut back – Cut back on everything.  Your Chair will tell you not to.  Your spirit won’t want you to make the class any “easier,” but the bottom line is you have to cut some content.  Students cannot retain in five weeks what they can in fifteen.  Remember the whole “uncoverage” conversation.  I don’t care if you’re teaching World Civ or US history, something’s gotta go.

2) Don’t lament the structure; embrace it.  Initially I found myself frustrated with the smaller class size and the restricted time to develop my ideas.  “I can’t do this…” I said.  “This is too hard…” I said.  But I could do it.  Once I learned to listen to my students (I know, I sound like Mr. Myagi now), I realized they were making different sorts of connections in this format.  Unlike us, these students don’t spend three hours a day working on history.  So when they do for an intensive class, they make unique observations and connections they may not make in a standard semester.

3) Let less be more.  This point is related to the first point, but what I mean is rather than focus on “whole texts” and longer readings (that students frankly cannot finish in the format), try breaking down sources together.  Running a class like this (with three hour meeting blocks), creating a “workshop” style atmosphere can be very beneficial.  While it might seem like you’re covering less “survey” material, the hands on connection points are invaluable and, for some of us, more enjoyable.

To some these might seem like obvious ideas, but I know I had to learn them the  hard way.  Feel free to share this post with friends and colleagues who may be teaching in this format over the summer or for intensive classes next fall.

Any thoughts or ideas you might have, feel free to comment below!


Oklahoma Baptist TT Job

December 26, 2012

Oklahoma Baptist University

Tenure-track Appointment in American History
Spring 2013

Oklahoma Baptist University’s Department of Anthropology, History, and Political Science announces a tenure-track position in American history at the assistant or associate level.

Appointment requires a full load of four courses per semester. Half of that load each semester is generally one section of “Western Civilization,” a two-semester, writing-intensive course team-taught with English literature. Appointment also includes committee service and student advising. Candidates with some expertise in secondary education social studies and geography will receive special consideration.

The successful candidate will assist the department and University in fulfilling its long-range goals for the intellectual and spiritual growth of students. Ph.D. degree is preferred, but qualified ABD applicants will be considered. The department currently includes six full-time faculty members with approximately 100 undergraduate majors and minors in multiple programs.

Oklahoma Baptist University is a private, Christian liberal arts institution with more than 1800 students and 280 faculty and staff on a 200-acre campus in Shawnee, Oklahoma. OBU transforms lives by equipping students to pursue academic excellence, integrate faith with all areas of knowledge, engage a diverse world, and live worthy of the high calling of God in Christ.

Application Process: To apply, complete a faculty application at Submit the application, a curriculum vitae, a statement of teaching philosophy and interests, three letters of recommendation, a sample course syllabus (if available), and evidence of teaching effectiveness (if available) to Human Resource Department, 500 West University, OBU Box 61207, Shawnee, OK 74804. For questions call 405-585-4157. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Review of documents will begin February 15 and will continue until the position is filled.

Bender’s Lost History

February 28, 2012

Admittedly I’m a bit late to the party on this, but a few weeks ago historians took a prominent position in the Chronicle of Higher Education thinking aloud about our profession.  Thomas Bender, historian at NYU, offered some suggestions for retraining graduate students into occupations other than the traditional tenure track professor.  Because, *spoiler alert* there really aren’t enough tenure track jobs available.

It is evident, then, why we need to be paying attention to this discussion as graduate student members of the CFH.  While many of the departments discussed in the article may not see community college teaching as viable options, many of us do.  Similarly, few of us aspire to land at “publish or perish” universities, instead preferring the teaching-friendly and teaching-heavy confines of the liberal arts institutions that spawned our ill-fated desires to pursue this profession.

It leads me to a few questions; first, why does the academy as a whole seem to look down their noses at the teaching-dominant workplaces?  Is there something inherently non-academic about teaching a 4/4 load?  Secondly, what does this mean for those of us who believe in Calling?  Are these articles and statistics a “sign” that we should begin considering other options (the proverbial “door closing”), or are they instead obstacles to test our perseverance in the midst of lifelong refining fire?  I know I’ve mixed my biblical metaphors… but the question remains… what action (if any) should we take?

Greg Jones is the graduate student representative for the Conference on Faith and History.  When he’s not teaching history or blogging about music, he loves to spend time with his wife Jennifer.  They are expecting their first baby in September.

Teaching Persona

September 19, 2011

Here’s an interesting article for those of you out there contemplating teaching as a career. And for some who are in the process of developing your own teaching style.