I began my teaching career when I was five. Every afternoon I lined up my dolls in front of my mini blackboard and harangued them about vocabulary. I have taught, written, and coached public speaking and debating in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. I have mostly taught ELA to grades 6-12, but also creative writing classes, and public speaking and debate classes. I have taught AP students bound for the Ivy Leagues and Oxford and Cambridge, and have also taught students with significant challenges, such as dyslexia and Aspergers. At the moment I am working with some grade 2's with learning difficulties and it is so exciting watching them learn to read with more confidence. I have taught in credit summer courses in France, Spain, Portugal, England, and Scotland. Combining my love of teaching with my travel addiction made those summers unforgettable.
I agree with Dr Shimi Kang that “Play is the superfood of learning.” I try to combine rigor with fun, preferably using several activities each lesson. When alumni come back to visit, they never fondly reminisce about the punctuation exercises or vocabulary quizzes. It is usually my educational games, like Macbeth musical chairs, or my absurd speaking topics that they become dewy eyed about.
Every time students leave my classroom with broad grins on their faces saying “Thanks for the lesson, Ms Clarke,” that is a shining moment for me. My proudest external achievements occurred when my students won the high school World Individual Public Speaking and Debating Championships in 2004 (Colorado), 2006 (Connecticut), and 2007 (Cape Town).
My degrees are from the United Kingdom; I didn't cross the pond until I was 25. I have a BA (First Class) from the University of Nottingham, an MA in English from the University of Warwick, and a Postgraduate Certificate of Education from the University of Durham.
I have self-published a 300 page history of English literature, crammed with oodles of vibrant graphics. You can download it for free at www.brilliantlylit.education.