Why K-12 Teachers Should Attend the American Historical Association’s Annual Meeting

I was just talking about the AHA’s annual meeting with my Teaching History course the other day. When I was starting out in the profession in the mid-1990s it was very rare to see school teachers roaming the halls of the conference hotels.  That is no longer the case.  At the 2013 meeting in New Orleans I met several K-12 teachers who were in the Big Easy to attend sessions on pedagogy and sessions on subjects related to the areas in which they teach.

I have always found conversations with K-12 teachers to be invigorating.  Many of them are better teachers than I am.  They are more creative and think more about student learning than I do.  I remember warmly my seven years as a grader for the Advanced Placement U.S. History exam in San Antonio because I got to spend an entire week at a table with high school teachers–many of them classroom veterans.  I never ceased to pick their brains about how they taught particular subjects. There was a collaborative dimension to those grading sessions that I found educational and enjoyable. I think the AHA meeting could provide a wonderful venue for this kind of collaboration.

Over at the blog of the AHA Dana Schaffer calls our attention to a host of conference sessions that K-12 teachers might find worthwhile.  Here are a few:

Session 71: Teaching Critical Thinking in an Increasingly Digital Age: Strategies, Struggles, and Success Stories 
Session 76: Teaching History to/for STEM Students 
Session 79: Collaborating with Curators, Librarians, and Archivists: A Practicum for Teachers and Faculty 
Breakfast: K-12 Networking Breakfast (Sponsored by The History Channel); free, but advance registration requested 
Session 201: “The Historical Enterprise”: Past, Present, and Future Collaboration between Secondary History Teachers and University History Professors
Session 155: What Should a Twenty-First-Century History Textbook Look Like? 
Session 237: The Feedback Loop: Historians Talk about the Links between Research and Teaching 
Session 238: The Future of AP History: Designing and Assessing a “Best Practices” History Curriculum