Did you know? Teaching American History has partnered with Ashland University to offer week-long graduate summer courses that combine quality teaching with the opportunity to be part of a community of those who love to learn and share America’s past. “For anyone who has taken only an online MAHG course, I would say that classes on campus take it to a whole new level. . . . This is the best intensive professional development experience to date,” says John Giltner. Other MAHG alumni agree with this.
How can one week of marathon away from home be more productive than an online course hosted in your home office and held continuously throughout the eight weeks of the school year?
We designed a marathon week for convenience! Food and lodging is provided. “Instead of all the other chores and chores, you just focus on the story,” says Gina Knowles. Devoted lovers of history and political science work hard, they love it. When you’re on campus, “you literally eat, breathe, and sleep with history for a week with fellow historians,” says Robin Dec. “The discussion never ends. This experience of connecting with other history buffs is impossible to replicate.”
However, certain strategies can help you get the most out of the experience. MAHG alumni give this advice:
Before starting the course:
1. Complete your assigned reading before the start of the week, or as many as you can.. If you have a week or two off between the end of the school year and the start of the course, that’s the perfect time to prepare, says John Talley, as “it’s not that far away to forget stuff.” If not, try reading ahead of time when you finish the school year. Write notes or questions in the margin to help you remember key ideas. You’ll want to reread portions of the reading each night before the next day’s classes. But you can think through the reading more carefully if you read it a second time.
Some alumni add that reading ahead gives you time for afternoon discussions in one of Ashland’s new pubs. We remain evasive on this point, but offer the following from Rusty Eder: “If you read everything ahead of time, it will give you the opportunity to have brilliant conversations with very smart people.”
2. Plan to live in apartments on campus. They are equipped with desks, as well as sofas, dining tables for shared study sessions and semi-private bathrooms. Although there are single rooms in Clayton Hall, you will be more comfortable sharing an apartment with other teachers. You will enjoy and learn from the conversation that develops during study breaks.
3. Bring a few things with you for comfort and convenience (especially if you are driving). The pillows that come with the basic linen set are the new low-cost versions of Styrofoam from the big box store. If you need a pillow of a certain firmness, get your own, says Stacey Moses. The apartment’s kitchenette is stocked with appliances, but you can bring your own coffee maker, favorite mug, bowl and/or cutlery set. Backpack on wheels prevent muscle pain,” says Adena Barnett. “So you can take your books, a printed copy of the course pack, your electronic device, and extra drinks and snacks to class every day.” Walking between apartments and classrooms takes about ten minutes at a leisurely pace, and another five minutes to walk past the dining room to have breakfast before or lunch after. To take advantage of the excellent on-campus recreation facility, bring sportswear or swimwear.
4. After registering for the course, you will have access to board, where you can find reading materials – course packs. Download the course package and print it. Link it at the stationery store or punched up fits in a three ring binder. You will switch between pages and documents during discussions in seminars and when writing essays in open book exams. Once you complete the course, an organized and linked set of documents will help you prepare for a qualifying exam or find sources for a dissertation or capstone. You will also extract from many documents to use in your classes. Don’t worry about the highlights and annotations you add; Clean copies of the papers are available for download at TeachingAmericanHistory.org.
5. Several students recommended buying one copy of key texts and reusing it whenever it is assigned in coursework. Most teachers indicate the text they prefer, and this helps everyone in the class find the passages being discussed. However, if you stick to one text, your notes will pile up in the margins as you revise it. Selections from one text in particular, Federalistappear repeatedly in the course program. Some professors prefer the Signet Classics edition (with an introduction by Charles Kesler); others and many students recommend the Freedom Online Library edition (edited by George W. Carey and James McClellan and published by the Freedom Foundation) as the most complete and authoritative.
During your stay on campus:
1. Seminars are designed as participatory discussions. “Ask questions and leave feedback,” says John Talley. “When you speak, you help the entire class and improve the learning environment,” adds Wesley Hall. Meanwhile, “being busy professors who know how to keep students interested” will help you learn how to communicate that excitement to your students at home, points out Keith Pitrone.
2. “Seize the opportunity talk to amazing faculty and amazing program staff“, says Stacey Moses. Sitting with professors over lunch in the cafeteria or over a cup of coffee during afternoon parties is “a great way to delve deeper into the topics discussed in the classroom,” says Kimberly Rugglesworth. Professors love these interactions, and each of They “want you to succeed and are ready to help you achieve your goals.”
3. The same advice applies to socializing with classmates. “Jump with both feet!” says Moses. Program students often organize study sessions; “If you haven’t heard of it, create it!” “Your classmates are the second-best resource for preparing for final assessment after teachers,” says Barnett.
4. By making friends with other teachers, you exchange pedagogical ideas and learn about other professional development opportunities. “Make as many friendships and friendships as possible with other classmates and teachers, because they will change your life,” says Nicole Keith. MAHG alumni often talk about “lifelong friendships” with colleagues with whom they continue to exchange ideas years later.
5. Josh Halpren advises those who spend a few weeks in the summer:get into a routine that allows time for self-care. Take advantage of Ashland’s amazing sports facilities, occasionally talk about unhistorical things over food and go to sleep. You need to spend most of the day talking and you don’t want to burn out.” Several alumni recommend walking around “the beautiful Ashland campus” or along the nearby Freer Field trail, part of which leads through the shady forest.
6. Coffee breaks fuel study. A coffee shop will be installed next to the MAHG classrooms at the Dwight Shar College of Education during classes. Starbucks-style lattes and other snacks are available at the café. Eagle’s Nest on the first floor of the Student Center.. On a further walk, there Perk in the city center (145 Main Street) offering desserts and lunch specials or Whit’s Frozen Custard. For those looking to take a mid-week break, Ashland’s downtown area also has plenty of shops and restaurants.
7. “Weave yourself into the fabric of Ashland. You get more than you put in, but (first) you have to put in,” Talley says. “If you study for several weeks, do not return home. Stay on campus to stay focused,” he adds. If you need to rest on a Saturday, there are “many houses of the presidents in Ohio to visit,” notes Rhonda Watton, along with sites on Metro and other historical places.
Tammy Hendershot sums it up: The MAHG program gives you more than just a degree; it gives you a “community” with which you learn to see the many connections between the American past and our present experience. This community will support you as you become a more knowledgeable and effective teacher. It can even, in the words of Nilani Jawahar, give you the best inspiration you can have in your work: “a newfound love and appreciation for America.”