The American Historical Association Annual Meeting Jan 3-5 2020 New York City Robert B. Caldwell Jr. PhD, Robert.Caldwell@SOWELA.edu School of Arts & Sciences
The AHA’s annual meeting is the largest and most prestigious gathering of historians in the United States. This year’s meeting boasted over 300 sessions with some 4000 attendees from all fields and professions. As a representative of SOWELA, I increased our profile within the history community. I represented SOWELA at presentations, panel discussions, roundtables, receptions, and at the various receptions and informal social events. I met with historians from other community colleges to discuss best teaching practices for community college setting and the latest developments in the field.
The conference included an extensive teaching and learning track this year. Many of the sessions provided practical ideas for me to take straight back to the classroom. In addition to the many content-based panels, I attended two three-hour workshops. One workshop focused on syllabus design, student learning objectives, curriculum scaffolding, and refining assignments and benchmarks to improve outcomes. One panelist presented a method called “Decoding the Disciplines” (http://decodingthedisciplines.org), a process of identifying bottlenecks to “increasing student learning” by “narrowing the gap between expert and novice thinking.” This method might be helpful to our colleagues here at SOWELA and can be applied to any type of instruction. Another presenter offered a problem-based approach to syllabus construction. The panel organizers promised to share materials via Dropbox.
The K-16 educators’ workshop focused on the use of single primary source documents (photos, letters, objects) to alter our understanding of historical events and historical figures. The workshop included was headed by the director of the office of learning and innovation and the educational research specialist at the Library of Congress. The LOC offers classroom materials and professional development to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library’s vast digital collections in their teaching, including lesson plans that meet Common Core standards, state content standards, and the standards of national organizations at http://www.loc.gov/teachers/. Moreover, the conference included a Teaching Resource Fair with hands-on introduction to some of the latest resources for the history classroom.
I also had the pleasure to present at this conference. While I have presented at two previous AHA Annual meetings (in 2014 as a panel presentation, and in 2017 as a poster presentation), this is the first time I represented SOWELA. My presentation was part of the 3-5 minute “lightening round” where I profiled the latest research for my forthcoming book.
SOWELA has my deep appreciation for investing in my teaching and research. Supporting my attendance at this conference demonstrates a clear commitment to professional development and continuous learning, key factors contributing to the constant pursuit of academic excellence.