As a teacher, I love my content, and that is most likely true for most teachers. I am an English nerd. I love a good story, a well written sentence, a gorgeously chosen word. I think it is important for my students to have an understanding of how to communicate effectively both through speaking and writing. I hope to help my students learn to, if not love, at the very least enjoy reading. But more than any of that, I hope to help my students build character and broaden their view of society and the world.
We're starting The Crucible this week. For the past month or so I've been mulling over how I want to approach this play and make it interesting and relevant for my students. I decided that I would approach it as a mirror for high school, social groups, reputations, bullying etc. To start us off, today I had my students write a journal response about reputations and then we had a class discussion.
From the get-go, my students surprised me with their thoughts about reputations and social groups. I had predicted that students would care a lot about what their peers thought of them and about their reputations at school. To my surprise, almost everyone said they worried more about what their teachers thought of them than how their peers viewed them. It was a reminder to me that even the most stubborn and difficult of students still wants their teacher to think well of them. Now, of course, this will not apply to every single teenager that crosses my path, but it was a good reminder to me the majority want to do well.
My 4th period blew me away. In the course of our discussion on reputations, a student made the observation that there is a double standard when it comes to girls and boys. Up until this point I'd been mostly moderating the discussion, but letting the students take it where they wanted. As the class continued to talk about reputations and gender, I noticed it was, with one exception, the boys talking about the girls' collective experience. I found it interesting that the female students in my class had, in essence, surrendered their voice. They were allowing their male peers to describe their female experience. I let it continue for a few moments before I stopped the conversation and asked them two questions.
- Who was doing all the talking? (the boys)
- What/who were they talking about? (the girls' experience)