What did you do after Calvin, and what are you doing now?
I graduated from Calvin College in May of 2009, and I found a teaching job the month after graduation. After teaching for a while, I decided to go to graduate school because I love history and the academic challenge it presents. Even though I am not teaching right now, my love for history is sustained through continuing my own education, and better preparing me for what the Lord has in store. I am studying for an MA in History, specializing in Ethnohistory, which closely aligns with my social/cultural interests.
Upon graduation (which won't be for a couple of years yet), I hope to have a job that allows me to teach history at a higher level. Whether the Lord takes me to high school history or something else, I would still love to share my love for history with students. My life goal is to study toward a PhD and teach at the college level, but that is a long ways off.
What did you learned about teaching from watching your Calvin History professors?
Calvin academics aside, the amount I have taken away from watching our knowledgeable and experienced professors teach has helped me beyond measure. I have been influenced by the story-focused, amicable, and personable
teaching style of Prof. Schoone-Jongen, the laid back and discussion-oriented class management of Prof. Du Mez, the matter-of-factness and completeness of Prof. Katerberg, and the vivacity and intensity of Prof. Howard. In addition, the material that these professors have equipped me with as a teacher on my own has been a great addition to my classes. After only teaching for a month, I have used readings from Prof. Schoone-Jongen and Prof. Du Mez to stimulate class discussion and provide interesting material beyond what the textbook provides.
How did your study at Calvin prepared you to teach History?
Calvin has put plenty of ideas in my head about what history is and how it should be taught. In addition to the influences that have affected me, the debate over historiography, the different perspectives through which history has been written, and the different people who have written history have given me many different angles to approach my history classes. Because I have studied different kinds of histories at Calvin, I am able to approach different lessons in different ways, which benefit different learners in the classroom. For example, my United States history class recently approached the American Industrial Revolution through the lens of the Cult of Domesticity and the ways families were forced to cope with their situations. This allowed students to open their eyes to the "little people" in history and gauge the effects of factory work on the upper and lower classes, as I was exposed to the same kind of history at Calvin.
Any advice you would give students thinking of majoring in History, Secondary Ed?
To those studying History and Secondary Ed at Calvin right now, I can only say a few things: 1) Appreciate your time with Professor Schoone-Jongen. His advice is priceless. 2) Make sure that you take your Ed courses for what they are worth. I did not see their value until I actually had to put them in practice, and have since then realized their immeasurable worth. Finally, 3) Look forward to student teaching! Take it very seriously, and learn as much as you can about balancing your social life with your academic life (among everything else!). It is a difficult balance, but learning that is one of the many things that student teaching will teach you. Learn from your cooperating teacher, learn from your students, learn from your professor, and learn from your seminar. The experiences and advice all those people can give or share with you can only help you in the long run.
Although I miss life at Calvin dearly, I have seen the 'real world' and it is good. Teaching for a living is a real blessing and I am happy where I am in my new career. The lessons that Calvin has taught me have stuck with me, the skills I have developed at Calvin are being put to good use in my career, and the influences I have seen at Calvin have made me a better teacher.