Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Q&A: Teaching

Last week, in honor of this blog's 2nd birthday/anniversary, I opened up a little Q&A.  It wasn't quite as well received as I'd hoped, but I did get a few good questions... Today is my attempt at answering the first one.  Enjoy!

Well, as a general response, I like teaching literature (as opposed to writing and grammar - which is sad, because so much of standardized testing etc. leans heavily in that direction).  Specifically, I think my favorite unit to teach is Romeo & Juliet in ninth grade.  I've never been a huge Shakespeare fan (terrible, I know), but I love that for most students this is their first exposure to his writing and I get the opportunity to make it seem less intimidating and more fun for them! Some of the activities we do with R&J are: a masquerade ball to read/perform Act 1, Scene 5 where Romeo & Juliet meet, a modern paraphrase assignment of the balcony scene, a "perfect match" interview between students and their parents (usually for extra credit), and competition wedding-vow writing.  I also provide a summary before each act written in today's language and do lots of journaling to help students connect with the work even though it feels so old and outdated.  Usually, my students agree that this is one of their favorite units all year! 

YES, I'm happy to share lesson plans... I really think swapping creative ideas (that work!) is what teaching is all about.  Email me if you are interested in this one, or something else.  :)

I wish I had more freedom in the literature I teach.  While my school is very supportive, I have to work with what we have class-sets of, so I often miss out on popular "modern" young adult fiction etc.  I really feel like my main goal as an English teacher is to make students readers.. So, I'd love to be able to work with books like The Hunger Games etc., that are already really popular with teenagers, in addition to classic literature --- I really think you have to have an appreciation for reading itself before you can fully enjoy most of the classics.

Revolutionary ideas.... I believe learning should be fun, students should feel respected, assignments should be meaningful, and teachers should LOVE what they are doing.  I don't know if any of those are revolutionary, but they pretty much sum up my philosophy of teaching.

For other reflections on teaching, ideas, etc. look here. :)
Thanks Crys for reminding me what I love about my job today (besides summer vacation)!


  1. Thanks :) I also love to teach Romeo and Juliet--we may have to discuss.

    Your philosophy and mine are similar. It always shocks me that there are people who just don't enjoy what they do--especially since I love it so much.

  2. Delurking for the first time (I found your blog ages ago through one of the SUYL posts at Kelly's Korner...I've long forgotten which one) to say that I LOVE your ideas for Romeo and Juliet.

    I am also an English teacher who's not really a fan of Shakespeare - and I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only one! I've taught Hamlet and Macbeth, but never R&J. I told one of my classes that Hamlet was essentially the story of The Lion King, and for the rest of the unit, I got questions like, "So wait...Scar is married to Hamlet's mom?"

    Your teaching philosophy sounds a lot like mine, too. Why teach if you don't love it?

  3. Up until my sophomore year of college I was all set to be a teacher (and my kind of "life goals" will still probably wind up with me "professor-ing" at the university/law school level someday. Hopefully.). One of my favorite experiences was actually in high school where we could do "student teaching" for credit. I was the only one who knew they wanted to do high school not elementary (or so I thought, ha!) so they made an exception and as a junior and a senior I was allowed to "student teach" freshman language arts each year. All of that is the set up to say: Romeo & Juliet was my favorite unit to "teach" too :)


Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!

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