Tips for History Teachers
Excellent history teachers have the ability to make history come alive for their students, create engaging units of study, and help their students apply lessons from the past in their day-to-day lives. The following 10 tips will help today's history teachers accomplish these goals and excel in their chosen profession:
1. Set the Stage
The best history teachers make the past come alive by engaging their students' interest in the subject matter. As you look at a particular historical event that you want to teach to your students, consider what props or visual aides might make the event stand out for them.
2. Create a Context
Make sure that you always provide information about the context of the historical events you are teaching.
3. Use Multimedia
Imagine how you might use technology to enhance what you are teaching. Particularly when you can incorporate technology that your students are already excited about, you have the opportunity to further draw them in to the history you are teaching.
4. Inspire Critical Thinking
Encourage your students to think critically about historical events. Ask them why they think certain events took place, or how they might have responded differently if they had lived during that time. These types of discussions can further help your students to wrap their minds around the material you are teaching.
5. Teach Your Students to Ask Questions
In addition, teach your students how to ask questions, themselves, of the material. Go beyond the basic "Who," "What," "Where," "When," and "How," and encourage your students to explore the "Why" behind historical events and advances.
6. Focus More on Understanding than Rote Memorization
We've all had teachers who cared more about whether we remembered the year of the Spanish Inquisition than the meaning behind the events they were teaching about. Certainly, there is a time and place for the memorization of facts, but make sure that you balance that skill with the broader, and far more important, skill of understanding the full scope of historical events.
7. Model an Appreciation for History
History is a subject where your enthusiasm for the material, as your students' teacher, will greatly impact their willingness to learn.
8. Incorporate Field Trips When Possible
It won't always be possible to take your students to see an actual battlefield or visit a museum whose focus complements something you are teaching. When it is, though, make sure that you incorporate field trips whenever possible. Seeing, touching, and experiencing history first hand will make an indelible impression on your learners.
9. Take Advantage of Online Learning Opportunities
Many museums have online learning modules that students can participate in from any location. Whenever possible, incorporate these opportunities into your teaching of history. In addition, provide extension activities for your students to complete at home, along with their families, using various online resources.
10. Challenge Your Students
Finally, challenge your students to apply what they are learning about historical events in today's context. What can we learn about how to effectively resolve conflict by studying past wars? How can we predict upcoming fluctuations in the economy by studying the past? Always take your students beyond the study of past events and require them to apply what they are learning to their current circumstances. After all, that's what the study of history is all about.