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Winter is Coming

So, this has certainly been a year. Almost unbelievably, it’s already December and the semester is quickly winding down. Soon, students and faculty  will retreat to neutral corners for a month to try and get our wind back before the next round starts. At this point, it’s tempting to already start looking towards what comes next…

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Keep it 100

When I’m putting together my syllabi before the start of a new semester, I tell myself, “This is when I’m going to get it right. I’m going to assign just the right amount of reading. I’m going to come up with inventive and engaging lecture topics. And most importantly, I’m going to make sure the…

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It’s Complicated

Last week I showed my students the recent HBO film, All the Way. It stars Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame (although he’ll always be Malcolm’s dad to me) as Lyndon Johnson and presents the struggles of LBJ’s first year in office in a gripping and accessible portrayal. In addition to teaching the regular post-1885…

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Applying a Fresh Coat of Paint

It’s a new day, yes it is. Summer has come and gone, and whether I or my students are ready, a new semester is upon us. On one hand, this is always an exciting time. Whether it’s the same U.S. survey course I’ve taught dozens of times or a class that everyone forgot was on…

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Now, What Have We Learned?

It’s the end of the school year here in Toledo. We’ve just begun to emerge from a Winter that was so long all we needed was a White Walker invasion to cap it off. (Side note: Game of Thrones is back on.) While the weather has improved, the atmosphere on campus still feels noticeably tempestuous,…

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Don’t Read the Comments

Between midterms and various essays, I’ve been doing a lot of grading over the past month.  By “a lot,” I mean enough to make banging my head against a brick wall seem like a not so bad way to unwind by comparison. (Someone remind me to never again turn down the offer of having my…

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Teaching Through Discomfort

“This is a class that will make you uncomfortable.” That’s something I say on the first day in my intro U.S. History courses. I frontload this idea about getting used to discomfort not to warn or scare off students, but to establish a core part of my teaching philosophy and to let my students know…